Houston Texans: 5 Biggest X-Factors entering the 2020 season

Gareon Conley #22, Lonnie Johnson #32 (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Gareon Conley #22, Lonnie Johnson #32 (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Duke Johnson, Houston Texans
Duke Johnson #25 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

1. Duke Johnson — Running Back

Duke Johnson may never be a full-time featured running back in the NFL, but his ability to play multiple roles in the Houston Texans offense makes him one of the most elusive players around. Though he carries a similar skill set to the newly-acquired David Johnson, having two players that are both capable of making plays out of the backfield keeps defenses constantly guessing.

In limited snaps throughout 2019, Johnson graded out as the 15th highest-graded running back overall and surprisingly has the fifth-highest pure running score in the NFL. Johnson’s 4.9 yards per carry was ninth in the league among running backs and actually one spot higher than Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers.

As mentioned earlier with Darren Fells, having a plentiful group of pass catchers is always bound to leave at least one player open who can do damage in the open field. On 44 catches, Johnson attained 361 yards out of the backfield at 9.3 yards per catch, proving his overall versatility. It remains unclear how teams will respond to having both David and Duke Johnson playing somewhat similar roles, or if they will play at the same time in certain packages, but he is an invaluable asset nonetheless.

Pro Football Focus declared David Johnson the least elusive starting running back with NFL experience, which might ultimately pave the way for Duke to increase his snap count or overall playing time.

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Overall, Duke Johnson is a significantly underrated playmaker for the Houston Texans and remains the biggest X-factor on the roster for the 2020 season.