Dynasty League Football


Storm Johnson: Dynasty Target


When watching the UCF Knights in 2013, there was one player who consistently made me say “wow,” and it wasn’t Blake Bortles. It was a player who should be a top target when looking for late round rookie picks who can make a dynasty impact at the running back position. His name is Storm Johnson.

After Johnson was finally picked at #222 overall by Jacksonville in the 2014 NFL Draft, I could not help but feel he had been overlooked. This has been a theme throughout his college career – it is hard not to be forgotten when you have transferred, played in the same backfield as a quarterback selected at #3 overall and also shared time in your final collegiate year with bruising freshman William Stanback (Stanback had 105 carries to Johnson’s 213 in 2013). This was part of the reason why he fell to the seventh round and why he sat behind the big names such as Carlos Hyde, Bishop Sankey and Jeremy Hill in most rookie running back rankings before the draft (9th at DLF and 13th on both NFL and CBS). However, I believe he is worthy of being in the conversation as a top rookie back and potential starter in this league –  he couldn’t have landed in a better spot than Jacksonville.

What Makes Storm Special?

Instincts and ability to see the whole of the field are two things I value highly in a college running back. Much like in the NFL, many backs are put in great situations to have production at the college level, but this production does not translate to the next level unless they have the ability to do the little things at the position that will lead to continued success. Johnson does those things, and also has outstanding instincts and a feel for the game. Every running back has his own distinct style, but he is a player that is both effective and exciting to watch. The first thing that pops out to you when watching him is the quick feet and ability to make people miss. For a relatively tall player (six feet) he stays extremely low to the ground and his agility is at times mesmerizing.

[inlinead]His game against Louisville last year was a real breakout moment for me. Plays like this 20 yard catch-and-run showcased the awareness, agility, vision and acceleration that were also evident throughout the rest of the game. He finished the night with 18 carries for 109 yards, four catches for 79 yards and a touchdown as both a runner and receiver. Johnson has very good hands and is a great option out of the backfield in the screen game and passing situations. He excels at eluding tacklers in one-on-one situations in open space and that ability will serve him well in the pass-happy NFL for a newly-bolstered Jaguars’ passing attack.

Another aspect of Johnson’s game that stands out is the way he carries the ball exclusively in his right hand, but uses his left as a ‘feeler’ or what I like to call a ‘get off me’ hand. He will put the left hand on his own blocker’s backs to allow them to finish their blocks and open up lanes for him. This technique, along with his great peripheral vision and ability to see cutback lanes, allow him to make plays out of nothing. However, this is an area where opinions on him may differ. Where I use the expression “make plays out of nothing,” others may dislike a runner who ‘dances’ instead of heading north and south. If you, like me, are looking for a player with the slipperiness and elusiveness to make people miss in tight spaces when it seems they should be bottled up, he is a player to target.

Why Did He Fall So Far?

Despite my fascination with Johnson, he is far from perfect (as evidenced by his late selection). Fumbles have been a big problem (eight in the last two years according to NFL.com), and as David Wilson and Stevan Ridley have both shown recently (along with many other young runners in the past), ball security issues can get you off the field and into the doghouse. However, this problem is fixable. Adrian Peterson is a great example of a predominantly right-handed toter who uses his left hand to throw opponents out of the way. Peterson, like Johnson, had fumbling problems coming into the league and in his early years that were highly publicised, but ball security is something that can be taught and he has had only six fumbles since 2010 compared to 13 fumbles in his first three years.

One area where Johnson doesn’t excel is his top-end speed. He is not a blazer and he may get caught from behind on occasion. While speed is huge advantage in this league, I don’t see it as essential to playing the running back position well. In fact, faster backs can often rely too much on their speed and miss out on big opportunities that present themselves when patience and setting up blockers would be a better choice. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in acceleration and the intelligence to use his speed well. Like many young backs, at times he also fails to show the discipline and decisiveness required to head straight upfield, and may instead bounce runs outside. If he stays inside, he is a much more effective runner.

Invest in Storm

Even though he was drafted in the seventh round, Johnson ended up in one of the best situations of all the rookie running backs when he was selected to be reunited with his UCF teammate Bortles in Jacksonville. In a backfield where the other players competing for touches are Toby Gerhart, Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson, he will have a real chance to make an immediate impact if he can prove in the next few months he is worthy of a roster spot. Johnson will not cost much in your rookie draft, but do not be surprised if he ends up getting his chance to have a fantasy impact next year and beyond. I recommend heading over to Johnson’s page on Draft Breakdown or checking out our ORANGE Report and judging for yourself, but if you only have a few minutes, enjoy some highlights.

Follow James on Twitter @JS_Football for Rookie Draft Talk and Storm Johnson Gifs

James Simpson
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Kevin Dummer
9 years ago

This should be on the premium side.

Reply to  Kevin Dummer
9 years ago

Yeah, the article title doesn’t give it away at all.

Reply to  Kevin Dummer
9 years ago

Its amazing to me how many of you want EVERY article on the premium side. You do realize that non subscribers outnumber subscibers? If there werent articles like this for free Tons of people would come here and use the forums that help everyone. If you post a question on the forums should we the non subscribers charge you for our opinions?

Reply to  Bubba
9 years ago

It’s a very careful balance between premium and free. One that we try to walk the line on in such a way that provides value for all of you. Of course, we would like ALL of our readers and visitors that have come to trust DLF to support us with a subscription. There are so many hours that are put into this site, that your support for a premium subscription goes a long way toward sustaining momentum, investing in infrastructure and trying to push the site forward to give you readers (premium AND free) information to help you in your leagues and as a coach.

We know that only a fraction of our readers will end up as subscribers so we also want to have good information for those that don’t … in hopes that one day that they will choose to support what we’re doing here. It’s a tough model to get right but we like our balance.

At the very least we would ask that EVERY reader sign up in our forum and make our community THE place to be for fantasy.

And if you haven’t subscribed yet, please consider it. It’s a small price to pay to say “Hey, I like what you guys are doing and thanks for your dedication to the format”. Yes, we know a lot of information can be found for free on the Internet … but DLF was started as a passion to give all of us a place to go, a place to belong to … a place to join others to talk about dynasty.

Support us if you can. But if you can’t or won’t … we’ll still be here for you!

Reply to  Jeff Haverlack
9 years ago

These comments showcase the very reasons I will be a subscriber by the end of May. By reading the free articles, I see that careful research and thought goes into all articles posted here. $20 for exclusive rights to all content would give these guys no way to advertise their talent.

Michael Franchino
Reply to  Edgy68
9 years ago

20 bucks is a small price to pay for some worth while material. If you cant play the 20 dollars can you really play FF?

d.w. Ruud
9 years ago

Admittingly, this is the only tape I’ve seen on Storm; however I cam away with one observation. The kid never carries the ball with his left hand. He’ll need to learn how to use his body to protect the ball.

Wupper Valley
9 years ago

The kid ran ALL OVER Clowney against SC… watch the cut-up on YT. It is indeed quite amazing.

Ron Mexico
9 years ago

He is somewhat skinny and not very fast. He will be Gerhart’s backup for a year or two and probably nothing more.

Reply to  Ron Mexico
9 years ago

Totally agree – the kid isn’t that good.

9 years ago

With 7 picks in the first 3 rounds of my rookie draft this year, I can definitely see this guy heading to my taxi squad. Same question marks for me, but the kid does have impressive acceleration and vision. You can’t find a diamond in the rough without picking up a few lumps of coal. That’s what makes dynasty so much fun!

BTW, I think you guys are doing a great job balancing the content between free and premium. When I first found DLF I spent about 2 months poking around as a “freeloader”, then I decided I would spend the 20 bucks and try out the premium side. Recently renewed for another year and I have not been disappointed!

Reply to  Jeff
9 years ago

Thank you for the support Jeff, very much appreciated. We think the cost is minimal for the amount of work that all of us put in. As I said earlier, if for no other reason just to support the dedication that we put to this format and having a forum to assemble every coach interested in Dynasty to talk about it … support us. We know information is free all over the Net, but everyone here is working their butts off to try and bring meaning to it all for anyone interested.

It has actually changed my views on how I support other sites now. If I see a site dedicated to one of my passions that is well done, I now support it monetarily simply to say “thanks” for having a good site. Without that, most all of these worthwhile sites would not exist.

Thanks again!

BAM Nation
9 years ago

I grabbed him in the late 2nd of two 16 team leagues – so happy enough with that.

I think he has more upside than a lot of other players going ahead of him.

Slick M.
9 years ago

Storm represents good value. Definitely have him at back end of my top 10. What I really like is his pass catching ability. In today’s NFL there is a premium on this skill and alot o this year’s top rookies do not possess it. Also his situation is good in Jax.
He is your classic upside late round rookie pick.

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