Where’s The Duke?

Cleveland Browns Training Camp Duke Johnson
Lisa Hahner/CityGalSports

I am biased, so let that preface whatever point(s) I might make within the course of this piece. There has been a crime perpetrated against one of the Browns best offensive weapons over Weeks 1 and 2, and I simply will not stand for it anymore. Duke Johnson Jr is being robbed.

Many of my closest friends and family know my love and devotion for a certain Browns running back. When talking fantasy, I have the rights to DJJ1 all three of my leagues, often keeping or overdrafting the diminutive running back simply to ensure he would be mine. I can’t even mention the name in conversations without getting eye rolls from coworkers/friends/fantasy mates.

With only eight targets in the passing game and eight touches rushing, Johnson needs more run. No running back in the Cleveland backfield has had much success, and with quarterback Tyrod Taylor running a conservative offense, getting the ball to your best playmakers however possible seems to be a good idea. Free agent signee Carlos Hyde has gotten the lions share of touches out of the backfield, but with only getting 2.8 yards per attempt, a change should and would be welcome.

You can look at Johnson’s 2018 numbers and wonder why I want the running back to get more. I get that, with the lone catch on six targets in Week 1, but when you look at the 17 yards on five rush attempts, you see that Duke can be effective, he just needs to be utilized properly. You also need to remember that Week 1 was a slogfest, where no team got much footing and many of the swing passes to Johnson were off target.

One only needs to look at Johnson’s numbers last year to see the talent that could be. Johnson hauled in 74 receptions for 693 yards receiving, fewer catches with more yardage than Le’Veon Bell had. He is not meant to be used between the tackles and should be a focal point in the receiving game, especially with the loss of Josh Gordon. Jarvis Landry was brought in to do what Johnson can, move the chains and be a safety valve for Taylor, but he is and should be called upon to be more of a deeper threat going forward.

This might read like the ramblings of a madman, some crazed fantasy owner ranting about his favorite player not being thrown to. It is, so your inclination is right, but it also comes from the heart of a fan who sees his team on the brink of victory with the hope that small changes to gameplans will push them over the edge. #FreeTheDuke Todd Haley. Bring him home.

  1. One year, my loving wife drafted a fantasy roster for me while I drove. She was reading the names off to me as they came across and she too fell in love with Johnson, calling him DJJ as her form of shorthand. []