GLENDALE, Ariz. — David Johnson’s popularity went up a notch or seven last season when, as the Cardinals’ starting running back, he set all kinds of franchise and NFL records.
In just his second NFL season, Johnson established a Cardinals record for yards from scrimmage, with 2,118 (1,239 rushing and 879 receiving), while his 20 total touchdowns were also a franchise-best mark.
His 20 touchdowns also led the NFL, and in 2016 he became the first player in league history to tally at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of their first 15 games to start a season.
And, if not for an injury in Week 17, Johnson may have become the third player in NFL history to finish with 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season, with Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig the only other players to have done so.
It was the kind of season that put the former third-round pick out of Northern Iowa on the national radar.
Chances are Johnson carried a good many teams to fantasy football glory last year, so should not shock anyone that the league featured the Cardinals’ running back in a recent fantasy football commercial.
For Johnson, who has been a fairly understated star, the chance to be part of the ad is something he enjoyed.
“It was a good time,” Johnson said. “Me and Mike Evans had a good time doing that fantasy commercial.
“Meeting new people, people that do that for a living, commercials and stuff like that.”
Johnson, who said he thinks he’s a pretty good actor but knows he has room to improve given it was his first time, explained it was shot in Florida.
“For 10 seconds it took about three hours, that’s all I’ve got to say,” he admitted. “It was a long time out in the [humidity] of Miami.”
A dry heat, it is not.
Johnson said his role in the commercial came about through his marketing agent, and that he was asked to be part of the commercial did not surprise him given how popular fantasy football has become.
Also, back in May, Johnson was named by the NFLPA as the game’s next marketing star, topping the list of the Rising 50.
And if Johnson produces as he did last season, his star will only continue to rise — both on the field, where the Cardinals plan on building the offense around him, and off it, for fantasy general managers across the world.
Plenty of people are counting on the 25-year-old, who enjoys the attention that has come with his fantasy stardom, and understands the role fantasy football plays in how fans get to know the game and its players.
“There’s pressure on me, but I don’t really feel it as far as the fantasy thing,” Johnson said. “More of my pressure is helping out the team, doing what I can to help, help out the younger running backs. Doing what I can to help the offense.”
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