D’Ernest Johnson Is the Top Fantasy Waiver Wire Target Over Demetric Felton Amid Browns RB Injuries
Getty Images. Pictured: Browns RBs D’Ernest Johnson and Demetric Felton
- Which Browns running back should you target on the fantasy waiver wire: D'Ernest Johnson or Demetric Felton?
- Our analysts weigh in on what to expect from both on Thursday night with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt sidelined with injuries.
The Browns will be without their two-headed monster duo in the backfield on Thursday Night Football.
With Nick Chubb (calf) ruled out for their Week 7 NFL matchup against the Broncos — and Kareem Hunt (calf) already slated to miss “several weeks” after suffering a calf injury of his own this past Sunday — the Browns will turn to backups D’Ernest Johnson and Demetric Felton on the short week.
Johnson and Felton are widely available in fantasy football leagues, but which of the two should you target? We asked our analysts to weigh in on what to expect from both this Thursday night.
How To Target D’Ernest Johnson & Demetric Felton On Fantasy Waiver Wire
Chris Raybon: Johnson has been effective in limited career action, averaging 4.9 yards per carry on 40 carries and 9.2 yards per catch on 10 catches. In his only extended action, he rushed for 95 yards in 13 carries (7.3 yards per carry) in Week 4 against Dallas last season.
I’d treat Johnson as the top priority add for this week, as he should end up ranking as an RB1 due to bye weeks.
Johnson’s Browns are home favorites against the Broncos, who rank 20th in Football Outsiders’ run-defense DVOA. The Browns also have a banged up starting quarterback in Baker Mayfield (questionable- shoulder), making this a perfect scenario from a workload, matchup and game script standpoint.
Felton is a “sexier” player in terms of skill set, but there’s a lot more uncertainty with him than his teammate Johnson.
Felton can play both RB and WR, but has played mostly WR thus far. On a short practice week, it’s questionable just how ready they can get him for a big workload at RB, so I’d treat him as an RB3/FLEX play at best — he’s capable of splash plays, but this could be a situation like the 49ers a few weeks ago, where it’s all hands on deck in the running game rather than using rookies.
Johnson will likely be a one-week rental for fantasy owners, as the Browns have a long week after this, but I’d still spend 20% or so of your FAAB on him given his locked-in role heading into Thursday.
Former Ram John Kelly, who has a couple of double-digit-carry games in his career, was also added from the practice squad and could operate as the RB2 over Felton on a short week.
Sean Koerner: Johnson is the most likely back to absorb the touches left behind by Chubb and Hunt.
This is Johnson’s third season on the Browns and they likely trust him to carry the load for at least one game. When Chubb went down in Week 4 last season, Johnson stepped up for 13/95/0 on the ground. And in Week 5, he chipped in 8/32/0 on the ground.
I’m projecting him for 13-14 carries on Thursday with two receptions, which puts him in the RB16-20 range.
The Browns used Felton as a wide receiver in training camp, but he’s certainly capable of handling 8-10 carries if needed. He has a wide range of outcomes, but I’m projecting him for 6-10 touches on Thursday.
The Browns also added John Kelly, who could also chip in a few touches.
Johnson is the best bet for TNF, and if you are desperate, certainly put in a bid for the one-week rental — how much depends on your record, how desperate you are at RB and how much you expect your league to bid.
Felton has the highest upside of the two, but also the lower floor. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being the RB who draws the most FAAB in leagues, making Johnson my preferred add.
Samantha Previte: Johnson would likely take over more work on the ground that would have otherwise gone to Chubb as the only pure rusher of the he and Felton.
Johnson should be the preferred waiver add of the pair, though I would temper expectations: He saw just one rush for two yards and caught a pass for seven yards in Week 6 with Chubb sidelined. He also disappointed fantasy managers last year after many spent significant amounts of their FAAB on him.
Felton, who has dual eligibility as a running back and receiver, has yet to record a rushing attempt all year and will likely see more of the passing-down work that Hunt usually takes. Felton will undoubtedly carry more value in PPR formats.
Both can be considered one-week fill-ins based on volume alone for desperate managers with six teams on bye. I would consider Johnson a medium-to-high priority and Felton a low-to-medium priority, though slightly higher in PPR formats.