Fantasy football owners that had the first or second overall pick in drafts got a gut punch in Week 1, as Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson had his day shortened by a wrist injury. He had surgery for a dislocated wrist this past week, and will be out 2-3 months.
Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians said he hopes to have Johnson back by Christmas, and the fastest he can return is mid-November (Week 10) after being placed on IR. Week 10-Week 16 is a wide possible timetable, and the Cardinals could be well out of the playoff race by the latter end of it. At that point bringing Johnson back at all would be a question.
Even with a possible Week 10 return, the fantasy regular season will be winding down when Johnson is back in action. With roster spots at a premium, what should Johnson owners in re-draft leagues do with him?
In the interest of full disclosure, I had the No. 1 pick and I own Johnson in our writer’s league here at GoingFor2. That may inform some of my analysis, and I’ll also offer the course of action I’ve taken.
In leagues with eight or 10 teams, where there should be plenty of waiver wire options, there’s a case for dropping Johnson. I’m not recommending it, but it’s understandable to at least think about it if stashing him in an IR spot is not an option.
In 12 and 14-team leagues, Johnson can’t be dropped until his prognosis and return timetable becomes clear. If he returns to practice and is not activated within the window he can be after that, then Johnson will officially be out for the season and shouldn’t be kept on fantasy rosters outside of keeper/dynasty leagues.
Johnson could return and be a difference maker during the fantasy playoffs. But his current absence makes even making the playoffs a coin-flip proposition for those who drafted him, with carrying an idle roster spot turning that to the negative side.
It’s been brought up elsewhere, but I’m on board with the idea of trying to trade Johnson in single-season leagues. I’ve put it out there in our league that I’m open to offers, to try to get a dialogue going. I don’t know what to expect, but it can’t hurt to dangle Johnson as a trade chip and see if anyone will bite. If I get what I think is a fair offer, I will probably pull the trigger. If I don’t get a fair offer right off the bat, I may counter and try to find a deal that works for both sides. It’s a 16-team league, with an obviously thin waiver wire, so the trade market may be slow as everyone hangs on to any player with any chance to be an asset.
I’m comfortable keeping Johnson if I have to, but the wide range of possible outcomes for him adds a significant layer of risk. Will he be back in Week 10 at full strength? Will he return in Week 16, the last meaningful week in most fantasy leagues? Will he be back somewhere between those two points, maybe on a snap count until further notice?
There are too many questions about Johnson to just hold him, for at least the next eight weeks, and hope for the best in 12 and 14-team leagues. So if you have him, as I do, I’m on the side of seeing what might be out there in a trade.