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Prop Bet of the Day: Houston is all in on David Johnson

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Prop: David Johnson OVER 1,174.5 rushing + receiving yards (-110, FOXBet)

After dealing DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, Houston head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien was berated harder than Michael Scott at the Dunder Mifflin roast. Many thought Hopkins should have fetched at least a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but it was clear O’Brien still thinks highly of Johnson, who fell out of favor in Arizona after an injury-riddled 2019 season. However, Johnson is now the lead back in Houston, giving him the fresh start he desperately needs. And if he can stay healthy, I’m convinced he’ll do some nice things in 2020.

  • Houston’s offensive line is far from perfect, but it’s no longer the disastrous unit it was before the team acquired Laremy Tunsil. The left tackle’s presence stabilized the entire group, allowing them to look mediocre in 2019, which was actually a major improvement over years prior. Last season, Carlos Hyde plodded his way to 1,070 rushing yards behind that line, and Johnson still has more to offer a team as a runner than Hyde does. I have him projected to rush for more than 1,000 yards over 15 games in 2020. Obviously, his health is a major question mark. But early reports suggest Johnson is feeling good heading into the year.
  • In six games as Arizona’s lead back in 2019, Johnson racked up 30 receptions for 315 yards as a receiver out of the backfield. That number, combined with the 1,042 yards I have him projected to rush for, would allow him to blow this total out of the water. And while it’s not quite as simple as that, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which Johnson doesn’t finish the year with at least 400 receiving yards. He is one of the game’s premiere pass-catching backs, which means Houston would be foolish not to give him ample time on the field on third downs. Sure, backup Duke Johnson is also a remarkable weapon in the receiving game, but you don’t trade for a guy and then minimize his strengths.
  • While this narrative has been beaten like a dead horse, O’Brien really would benefit from Johnson turning in a good season, so I do expect him to really ride him into the ground this year. If Johnson struggles to produce, or even stay healthy, a good season for Hopkins could be enough for O’Brien to lose his job. There’s just so much riding on this specific situation, so it’s hard to imagine O’Brien not giving Johnson every possible opportunity to succeed.

Considering how low this total is, the reality is that this is a bet on Johnson’s ability to stay healthy. I think there's a reasonable chance he hits this mark in as little as 14 games, so I’m taking a shot on it. I even think it’s worth sprinkling a little on Johnson to win Comeback Player of the Year at +3000.

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