Keep an eye on Storm Johnson, Branden Oliver


Oct 5, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Storm Johnson (34) runs the ball as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Jaguars 17-9 at EverBank Field. Johnson finished with a team-high 27 yards on four carries. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a lot of injuries at running back this season, which is generating some complex waiver wire adds of a lot of young unknown running backs.

I’m going to talk about two running backs that you should be paying attention too, Branden Oliver and Storm Johnson. Both running backs are rookies who appeared trapped at the bottom of the depth chart, and now due to injuries they are getting their chance to show what they can do as the lead back.

Oct 5, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Branden Oliver (43) runs while defended by New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris (52) and outside linebacker Quinton Coples (98) and n24#2/ during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to talk about their college metrics and give you my take on what kind of player they are from an NFL and fantasy perspective.

• Branden Oliver RB San Diego Chargers
Oliver was an undrafted free agent from the University of Buffalo who was picked up by the Chargers after the NFL draft. He is short and stout at 5-6 1/2 and 206 pounds, due to his size a lot of people are comparing him to Darren Sproles. After watching him play he reminds of a slower Maurice Jones-Drew.

Despite how short he is, like Jones-Drew he is very thick and runs low to the ground. He’s a good receiver and he runs between the tackles very well displaying excellent patience and vision.

He isn’t very fast, had a 4.62 40-yard dash at the combine, and he’s not going to bust many long gains. Even though he’s not a home run hitter, if he gets plenty of touches he can be very effective. Oliver took advantage of his opportunity last week when Donald Brown left the game with a concussion, rushing for 114 yards with one TD, and four receptions 68 yards and one TD.

Branden Oliver’s Fantasy Value Going Forward
Oliver has a juicy matchup this week against the Oakland Raiders, he is a must start this week as he should put up RB2 to low end RB1 numbers.

For his long term value he will continue to hold a lot a value. Running back Ryan Mathews should be back in a few weeks, along with running back Donald Brown, but he should still receive a lot of touches in passing situations, which is really good for PPR leagues. Oliver should be rostered in all leagues, and should be started in most lineups until Mathews comes back from his injury.

• Storm Johnson RB Jacksonville Jaguars
Storm Johnson from the University of Central Florida was drafted in the 7th round by the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2014 NFL Draft.

He’s a taller back, standing at 6-0 and he has decent size to him weighing 209 pounds. His talent can be best described as a jack of all trades but a master of none, meaning he is good at almost everything but he is not elite at anything either.

He is very comparable to the Bills’ running back Fred Jackson. Due to injuries to Toby Gerhart and under performances from running backs Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson, Johnson is going to get his opportunity for more touches in the near future.

Johnson will experience some challenges from the low quality run blocking from the Jacksonville offensive line and he won’t have as many rushing lanes as we would like him to have. He is going to get some opportunity and if he can flash some talent he could be the next late round running back to gain a starting job.

Storm Johnson’s Fantasy Value Going Forward
Don’t start Storm this week, because we don’t know what his work load will look like and the coaching staff is saying he is going to get his big shot, there is a chance he may only get a limited amount of touches.

Only start Johnson if your are desperate at running back, and you need to fill your lineup. Storm is worth a stash at the end of your bench, there is a good chance that he may flash some of his talent and gain the starting job. He doesn’t have much competition, and Gerhart has been very pedestrian this year at best.

Also, Johnson went to college with Jaguars’ QB Blake Bortles and the chemistry that they had during their college days could rekindle and give Johnson some extra opportunities. If he blows up and you have him at the end of your bench then you won’t have to fight for him on the waiver wire next week and you can focus your waiver wire bids on another position.

I like both running backs, as I think they both can be serviceable if they are given the opportunity and should be highly considered being rostered on your fantasy team. If your have any questions regarding your fantasy teams please message me on Twitter, @bmatz08.