Fantasy Football Injury Reaction: Kerryon Johnson placed on IR; Ty Johnson ready to step up?
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Kerryon Johnson's season has likely come to an abrupt and early end for the second year in a row. The Lions announced Tuesday he has been placed on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on his right knee. The procedure effectively ends Johnson's Fantasy season, though he could possibly return in Week 16 or 17 if his recovery goes well.
A year ago, Johnson's rookie season ended with a trip to IR after 10 games due to a left knee sprain, so that could be two season-ending injuries, one for each knee. He heads to the IR having rushed 92 times for 308 yards and two touchdowns, while adding nine receptions for 126 yards and a score in what was supposed to be a breakout season, and this puts a serious shadow over his prospects even in Dynasty and keeper formats. It also puts the Lions in quite a bind moving forward this season, as the Lions had given 63.0% of all running back carries and 42.4% of all targets for the position to Johnson.
However, they aren't totally stuck. Converted collegiate receiver J.D. McKissic has been effective as a pass catcher when given a chance, while sixth-round rookie Ty Johnson has been taking on a larger role in recent weeks, playing 64% of the snaps in Week 7 following the injury.
Ty Johnson hasn't exactly shined so far in his NFL career, rushing for just 83 yards on his 23 carries. However, he was a hyper-efficient runner in college, averaging 7.6 yards per carry over four seasons. He never got more than 137 carries in any season, however, and at 210 pounds, he's probably fringe-y as far as every-down size. McKissic should still see plenty of time in passing situations, but as things stand, Johnson figures to have a significant opportunity to be the primary runner for the Lions.
That should make Ty Johnson one of the top priorities on waivers heading into Week 8, if not the top priority, especially with the Giants and Raiders on the schedule in the next two weeks. The Lions only have two running backs on the roster, and though they seem likely to add someone - Paul Perkins was added to the practice squad a few days ago and they could always bring back C.J. Anderson - expect Ty Johnson to get the first chance. He'll be worth a sizable FAAB investment, while McKissic will be worth adding as well, especially in PPR leagues - though it's worth noting that Matthew Stafford has gone away from throwing to his running backs quite as much so far this season.
All in all, there is an opportunity here for Johnson, and he has the kind of athletic profile that could lead to some splash plays if he gets the room to run. He won't make the kind of impact we were hoping to get from Kerryon Johnson, but he doesn't need to have that kind of role to be a valuable waiver-wire add.
Assuming the Lions don't go out and make a move to add a significant name - and outside of Kenyan Drake, is there really anyone available? - expect Ty Johnson and McKissic to split the work moving forward. It's not what the Lions were hoping to see this season, but they'll have to make the best of a bad scenario, and it's one Fantasy players might be able to squeeze some value out of.
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