Dolphins’ Duke Johnson can be fantasy football lottery ticket



If you want to win a lottery pot, you have to buy a ticket. That’s just how the lottery works. 

Sure, it might not work out. It is quite possible you lose. But if you happen to grab a winner, you could win really big. 

Nabbing a potential bell-cow running back on the waiver wire is much like picking up a lottery ticket. Yes, it might not pay off. But boy, if it is does … 

We’ve seen some potential RB jackpots before. Last season, those who picked up James Robinson won huge. Early on this year, there was Elijah Mitchell. He hasn’t paid out huge dividends, but he has provided some boosts when healthy. 

We’ve also seen some misses. Adrian Peterson didn’t work in Tennessee, though D’Onta Foreman has paid back a small amount. Alex Collins was a completely wasted ticket, but Rashaad Penny still could end up paying back something. 

This week, there is another lotto ticket on the waiver wire: Dolphins running back Duke Johnson. 

The seven-year veteran started the season on the Jacksonville practice squad, after previous stops through the years with the Browns and Texans. He was signed to Miami’s practice squad in October, after an injury to backfield-committee member Malcolm Brown. 

Duke Johnson celebrates during the Dolphins' 31-24 win over the Jets.
Duke Johnson celebrates during the Dolphins’ 31-24 win over the Jets.
Getty Images

He had seen just four carries all season — all in a Week 11 game vs. the Jets. That is until Sunday. With starter Myles Gaskin and backup Salvon Ahmed fresh off the COVID list, and recently added third-down back Phillip Lindsay still on the COVID list and dealing with an ankle injury, it was Johnson’s time to shine. 

The Duke made the most of it. He easily outpaced Gaskin, 22 carries to 10. He also racked up 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns, to Gaskins’ 54 rushing yards (30 of which came on one carry). 

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So, is Duke going to be a winning lotto ticket to kick off the fantasy playoffs? That is uncertain, but what is certain is we are not opposed to getting a ticket to that lottery. 

But not all lotto tickets are created equal. This particular ticket likely doesn’t have a huge payoff, at least not this season. 

The Dolphins next two games are against the Saints and Titans. Entering Week 15, those just happen to be the two stingiest defenses against opposing fantasy running backs — and that was before the Saints stifled Leonard Fournette and the entire Buccaneers offense and the Titans held Steelers rookie Najee Harris to the lowest PPR output of his career. 

Duke Johnson rushed for a career-high 107 yards against the Jets.
Duke Johnson rushed for a career-high 107 yards against the Jets.
Getty Images

Yet, we can’t completely ignore the potential prize. Johnson historically has been a great receiving back — having at least 40 receptions every season before 2020, including 74 in 2017. So he can be used in the passing game if the Dolphins are wise enough to do so. 

That potential makes him worthy of a roster add, provided you have an expendable player. But it doesn’t make him a starter. Grab him and stash him in case next week is as COVID chaotic as this one.

Time to play 

Tyler Huntley QB, Ravens 

With Lamar Jackson dealing with an ankle injury, and as well as Huntley has performed, he is worth adding as insurance in case Jackson misses more time. Think of him as a QB handcuff. 

Samaje Perine RB, Bengals 

Joe Mixon left the Broncos game late. If he misses time, Perine should absorb the majority of his touches. 

Ronald Jones II RB, Buccaneers 

Similarly, Leonard Fournette left Sunday night’s game with a hamstring problem. Jones could become a workhorse with Fournette expected out a week or two. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown WR, Lions 

Has at least eight catches and 70 yards in three straight games. He is startable. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown
Amon-Ra St. Brown

Gabriel Davis WR, Bills 

Four TDs in the past three games. As long as Emmanuel Sanders is out, feel free to use Davis. 

Playtime is over 

Cam Newton QB, Panthers 

Don’t be fooled by his decent fantasy outing at Buffalo. Plus, he faces the Bucs and Saints in the next two weeks. 

Jared Goff QB, Lions 

Don’t be fooled by his decent fantasy outing vs. the Cardinals. He has been bad on the road all year, and Detroit isn’t home again until Week 18. 

Tom Brady QB, Buccaneers 

With Chris Godwin done for the year and Mike Evans questionable for Sunday, Brady isn’t an automatic start. 

Ameer Abdullah RB, Panthers 

Had a decent game Sunday, but Chuba Hubbard will still get most of the work. Abdullah is a DFS flier, not a seasonal playoff starter. 

Amari Cooper WR, Cowboys 

Has single-digit PPR output in half his games this year. Is averaging just 10.8 since Week 2. Bench him.


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