December 02, 2011
Over the past three weeks, Tennessee's Chris Johnson has delivered his two best games of the season, as well as his worst. Johnson rushed for 130 yards and one touchdown at Carolina in Week 10, and he gained 190 yards on 23 carries versus Tampa Bay in Week 13 (somehow not scoring). Sandwiched in between those efforts was a 12-carry, 13-yard dud at Atlanta.
The Panthers and Bucs have been the league's most generous teams in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs (26.9 and 25.3 PPG), whereas the Falcons have been among the stingiest (13.7). So we probably shouldn't get too excited about Johnson's big days, nor should we fret too much about the terrible line at Atlanta. He was basically following the script.
With five weeks remaining on the Titans' schedule, CJ is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, he has just one 20-point fantasy week to his credit, and he's only visited the end zone twice. He ranks 28th in per-game fantasy scoring at his position, and 13th over the past five weeks. There's little question that he's been a massive, season-wrecking disappointment.
But this is the NFL, where players and teams rewrite scouting reports each week. If CJ can be trusted to take advantage of solid match-ups, then there's at least a chance he'll finish his season with a binge.
Check the Titans' schedule over the next month:
Week 13 at Buffalo (123.8 rush YPG allowed, 12 TDs, 4.5 YPC, 9th most points against)
Week 14 vs. New Orleans (117.1 YPG, 8 TDs, 5.0 YPC, 12th most fantasy points allowed)
Week 15 at Indianapolis (150.6 YPG, 15 TDs, 4.2 YPC, 3rd)
Week 16 vs. Jacksonville (109.1 YPG, 8 TDs, 4.0 YPC, 22nd)
Johnson's toughest remaining match-up is with a middle-of-the-pack run defense (Jac), so there's nothing too intimidating here. You might recall that in Scott Pianowski's recent look at end-of-season schedule strength, Tennessee actually had the fifth-easiest slate for RBs.
So: Who's expecting this dude to lead your fake team to a fantasy title? I'm assuming you acquired Johnson via trade, because it would've been difficult to claim a playoff spot if he was your first-rounder — not impossible, but rough. Feel free to offer some CJ hype (or anti-hype) in comments.
I'll admit, I did not view this player as a particularly exciting buy-low candidate when the opportunity presented itself, after Johnson's lousy Week 8 performance against the Colts (17 touches, 51 yards). But I'm coming around after last week's 190. He looked uncommonly lively by his recent standards, making more tacklers miss in the second-half against the Bucs than he had all year. (Highlights here, beginning at 1:40). As we head into a must-win stretch, I'm wishing I'd acquired additional shares.
"I've found my groove," Johnson said this week. If true, then his owners may have found theirs, too. Finally. After going groove-less all year.
Photo via US Presswire