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Dynasty Rookie Draft Advice: Theo Johnson (2024 Fantasy Football)

Dynasty Rookie Draft Advice: Theo Johnson (2024 Fantasy Football)

This is what we’ve been waiting for, fantasy football enthusiasts. The NFL Draft is under way, and we finally get to see where the rookie prospects are going to launch their professional careers. And NFL Draft landing spots allow us to start to zero in on fantasy football and dynasty rookie draft pick values.

Throughout the draft, we’ll take a closer look at fantasy-relevant prospects, giving you an overview of their strengths and weaknesses, and assessing their fantasy value in both redraft and dynasty formats.

Let’s dig in.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Fantasy Football Rookie Draft Outlook

Fitz’s Fantasy Football Outlook

The New York Giants have selected Theo Johnson of Penn State with the seventh pick of the fourth round.

Johnson put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine, clocking a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash at 6-6, 259 pounds. He also had a 39 ½-inch vertical jump and posted a Relative Athletic Score of 9.93, ninth-best of 1,141 tight ends to have recorded a RAS since 1987, according to RAS pioneer Kent Lee Platte. The 23-year-old Johnson has nearly ideal size for an NFL tight end, and his athleticism gives him immense potential.

Despite that dreamy combination of size and athleticism, Johnson’s college numbers were pedestrian. He topped out at 34 catches for 341 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games last year. He hasn’t shown much as a route-runner, and he’s not a particularly effective blocker.

Giants TE Darren Waller is reportedly contemplating retirement. If Waller does indeed decide to call it quits, Johnson could help tag-team the TE position for the Giants along with third-year man Daniel Bellinger. It would be overly aggressive to project Johnson as a starter, and it’s hard to see him being fantasy-relevant as a rookie in light of his modest statistical output at Penn State.

In dynasty, I have Johnson ranked TE6 among rookies and TE30 overall. He’s likely to come off the board somewhere in the latter part of the third round of 1QB rookie drafts and in the fourth round of superflex rookie drafts.

Johnson’s predraft FantasyPros Expert Consensus ranking was TE51 in half-point PPR formats, and he had a predraft Underdog best-ball ADP of TE38. I have Johnson ranked TE47 for redraft.

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Thor’s NFL Draft Profile & Player Comp

Theo Johnson (Penn State)

6060/259 | RAS: 9.93
Player comparison: Albert Okwuegbunam

Johnson is a hot name right now after lighting it up during pre-draft testing. Over the full gamut of tests, Johnson’s 9.93 RAS slotted No. 8 amongst all TE prospects to go through the pre-draft process since 1987.

For all his gifts, the late-blooming Canadien never bloomed in Penn State’s 12-personnel offense. Johnson enters the NFL much as like arrived on campus in State College – as a fascinating ball-of-clay (Johnson went from a zero-star recruit to a four-star recruit during his senior year of high school, largely on the basis of his summer camp testing).

Johnson played 1,740 snaps across four seasons but left PSU with less than 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards despite his made-in-a-lab frame/athleticism combo. He would disappear for full games at a time.

I have two theories for why Johnson didn’t pan out at Penn State. Getting to the bottom of this paradox is key to his draft evaluation.

Theory 1) Theo Johnson was used incorrectly at Penn State.

Johnson, on tape, is very much a north-south athlete – his incredible forty and split showings were not surprises. It’s absolutely possible that he could develop into a down-the-seam problem in the NFL. But let’s call a spade a spade: That’s a theoretical idea.

Penn State’s conservative passing attack didn’t afford Johnson opportunities to stretch his legs downfield. Last season, he was targeted 30 times within nine yards of the line of scrimmage – and only five times 20+ yards downfield. Johnson caught a total of five such balls over the last two years as a starter. This was an egregious use of his skillset (and perhaps, nodding to next year at this time, a damning indictment of PSU QB Drew Allar). Johnson ran a heavy dose of straightforward, get-the-ball-out-quick routes in the short area that categorically did not suite Johnson’s skillset. Johnson’s two-worst athletic tests were the 3-cone and the bench press. Frankly, his 69th-percentile showing in the 3-cone was a surprise – and his 93rd-percentile shuttle was outright stunning – because he doesn’t fluidly change directions in pads. Johnson, for all his rawness, did convert 7-of-34 catches into touchdowns last year to lead the team. And, amongst the TE group, he also had the best Senior Bowl showing as a receiver.

Theory 2) Theo Johnson – athletic gifts and all – is a mediocre football player.

Johnson’s limited role last season led to an 18th-percentile aDOT. That makes sense. What doesn’t make as much sense is the 44th-percentile YAC/Rec. Shouldn’t an athletic freak, shuttled the ball quickly in the short, at least… finish above-average in the FBS in yards after the catch at the TE position?

Isn’t that… sort of the point of those throws, to those kinds of players? Johnson finished last season with two broken tackles, tied for lowest amongst my top-15 TE. Again… shouldn’t this type of player at least acquit himself decently in this area?

On tape, Johnson is a big moose after the catch, all straightforward north-south movement. Zero nuance. An easy target for defenders to put in the crosshairs and light up.

And yes, he telegraphs his routes off the line like he’s putting his cards face up on the flop. But I’m not even going to linger on that, as you could explain that away both by Johnson’s inexperience, and by the elementary-school concepts he was being asked to run – a blindfolded defender would have had a roughly one-in-three chance of guessing where he was headed pre-snap if he knew a pass was coming.

But even if Johnson was used incorrectly (he was) in a bad passing offense (it was), does that explain away the totality of the lack of collegiate production for a player who was on the field and saw targets? For you to like Johnson, you’d better answer yes – because he’s a terrible blocker. His technique is poor, his play strength is mediocre, and the half-hearted effort he gave on those reps does not exactly suggest dogged work to come in either area.

Beyond the above – and moving entirely off-the-field – Johnson faced questions during the pre-draft process over an incident at a frat house one year ago. Johnson didn’t have a wristband required for admittance to a party, so he was asked to leave. According to court documents, Johnson punched the person who asked in the face, a scene that was caught on surveillance footage. Johnson was charged with two misdemeanors.

Whichever team takes Johnson needs to be aware that it is not only taking a developmental prospect, but likely one with a capped ceiling. But if Theory 1 is ultimately proven correct, there’s absolutely big-play receiving utility that could be untapped at the next level.

Check out more NFL Draft profiles and player comps from Thor in our 2024 NFL Draft Guide partner-arrow

Dynasty Rookie Draft Rankings

Our analysts provide their latest rookie draft rankings below. And also check out our expert consensus dynasty rookie draft rankings!

More Dynasty Rookie Draft Advice

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