As fantasy owners, there are few things that frustrate us more than seeing our backs taken out of a game. This is especially true if said substitution takes place in the holiest of areas, aka the red zone. We use terms like thief and vulture to describe the ones that gobble up those six precious points while our guy, who just spent the last eight plays taking hits at a measly 1/10 point per yard, is now standing on the sidelines. While I can’t say this travesty of fantasy justice is as painful as a root canal or watching your star player go down for the season, it is pretty close.
Now that you have been reminded how brutal that is to watch, I ask, “why is Chris Johnson firmly planted in your Top 10?” With 1,488 total yards, 43 receptions and 10 touchdowns in ‘08, not a single one of those numbers eclipse Steve Slaton’s or LaDainian Tomlinson’s numbers, but both of them have a lower ADP than C.J. Fear of losing carries to Chris Brown and Darren Sproles are common reasons for the lowered value of Slaton and L.T., but stolen carries seems to get overlooked when it comes to Johnson. A common stat used to justify C.J. is the 4.9 yards per carry he had last year. To help put that in perspective, here are some other backs that had an equally high yards per carry in ‘08. Felix Jones, Leon Washington and Jerious Norwood all had high yards per carry, are considered change-of-pace backs, sit the pine in the red zone and are not considered first-round fantasy picks. I ask again, “Why is Chris Johnson firmly planted in your Top 10?”
Let’s look now at what used to be the biggest reason Johnson should not be a first-round pick: LenDale White. Commonly referred to as “Big Fat LenDale White,” the Trojan Chubster showed up to camp this year in the best shape of his career and picked right back up where he left off in ‘08 by gobbling up C.J.’s touchdown in the Hall of Fame game. Add in the fact that White is in a contract year, he will be running hard and possibly picking up extra carries along the way at C.J.’s expense.
By no means am I trying to say that Johnson is a complete bust or that you should avoid drafting him. I am simply saying to draft him right now you have to reach beyond his true value. Johnson is as talented as any other young back in the league, but fantasy football is just as much about opportunities as it is talent. In the Titans backfield as long as “Not So Fat White” is around, Johnson loses almost all the opportunities that matter most.