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How to handle David Johnson’s injury in Week 9 fantasy football [UPDATE]

David Johnson was a surprise participant in practice Wednesday. We’ll give you the breakdown of his injury status and the fantasy football implications.

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson runs against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

David Johnson injury status update 9:39 a.m.

The Cardinals will NOT be playing running back David Johnson, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He was announced as a game-time decision due to his ankle injury, but he is not quite there yet and will sit out the game. Kenyan Drake will likely start, with Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris getting some work as well. Kliff Kingsbury said it would be a committee approach, but expect Drake to get the bulk of the work.

David Johnson hasn’t played in the Cardinals last two games due to an ankle injury. His absence two weeks ago was a surprise for the fantasy football community, as he played one snap and then sat out the rest of the game against the Giants. Backup running back Chase Edmonds took advantage and put up huge fantasy numbers in his place, scoring three touchdowns and hitting 150 total yards.

Unfortunately for Edmonds, he suffered a hamstring injury the following week against the Saints with Johnson still out. Edmond’s injury pushed the Cardinals to trade for Kenyan Drake from the Dolphins, who, along with Zach Zenner and Alf Morris, are the healthiest running backs for Arizona. And it appeared as if Johnson had little chance to suit up against the 49ers on Thursday night, but he was able to get a limited practice in on Wednesday and is considered questionable to play.

Fantasy football analysis, Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, talking to the press today, said that even if Johnson plays, the backfield will be “running back by committee.” That news by itself is enough to consider benching Johnson in fantasy this week, even if he is active on game night. If the Cardinals were facing a weak defense, we might be okay playing a committee back coming off an injury, but the 49ers are one of the best defenses in the league.

Through seven games, San Francisco has allowed just one touchdown and one game over 100 total yards to a running back, and that was Christian McCaffrey in a 51-13 drubbing. The 49ers rank third in fantasy points allowed to running backs and have one of the most dominant defensive lines in the league.

If Johnson can’t go, Drake would be the most likely to put up valuable fantasy numbers. Drake is a competent receiver, and the 49ers are 10-point favorites, meaning Arizona will likely trail and need to throw. Kyler Murray is also stuck behind a swiss cheese offensive line, and his pass attempts will need to come out quickly to a back like Drake, who can make defenders miss in the open field.

In the end, if Johnson suits up along with Drake, it will be difficult to trust either to be the main target for Murray on those quick hitters. There would be room for one to put up usable PPR numbers, but they could also cancel each other out. If you roster Johnson, hope he takes the extra long week to heal instead of facing the 49ers.