I’m sure all fantasy owners who drafted Chris Johnson in either the first or second round have been utterly disappointed.
Johnson’s production through the first three games was pathetic. To open the season he gave fantasy owners a whopping 5.1 points. Then, he followed that up in weeks two and three with 2.8 points and 2.9 points. In a previous article I had written, I advised owners after Week 2 to let Week 3 be Johnson’s ultimatum. Unfortunately he underperformed again and I wound up benching him, like I assume many other fantasy owners did.
Well, Week 4 Johnson addressed his critics and ran for a solid 141 yards on 25 attempts, averaging about 5.6 yards per carry. He also added 16 receiving yards, totaling his fantasy production at 15.7 points, which is a number you’d expect from a premier back.
Here’s why I think Johnson’s production is back to stay. What came into question following Week 3 wasn’t Johnson’s skill, it was his heart, and everyone knows what he is capable of. There simply wasn’t any other explanation for his poor performances.
I try to think if I were Chris Johnson perhaps this would be my mindset: I already have the big contract I wanted, but I also want to be apart of a team that has a legitimate chance at a championship. I’d rather reserve myself now and save my body for the long-term in hopes of putting me in a better position to be on a winning team down the road, because this year’s team just doesn’t have all the elements of championship caliber team. I can’t say for sure that’s what he thought, but there’s no doubt that something of the sort had to have crossed his mind.
It also seems that when Matt Hasselbeck is at the helm the play scheme changes in favor of Johnson. With Jake Locker sidelined for at least a week or two, this gives offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and head coach Mike Munchak an opportunity to see the chemistry Johnson has with Hasselbeck, and incorporate that play calling into the offensive scheme when Locker is back in the lineup. It isn’t often one player’s injury benefits another player at a different position, but I think that will be the case here.
Though the Titans face some quality defensive teams in the next few weeks in the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers, Johnson's feat on Sunday was impressive considering it was against the 2nd-ranked defense in the league, so there’s no need to worry if the defensive matchups are an issue. As long as the Titans don’t have to play catch up and abandon the running game, in both contests expect solid performances from Johnson.