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Tennessee's running back should be on your bench in week 16
Tired of rolling with Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson? Me too.
I’ve held out for as long as I can — you know, until there was one game left in the majority of fantasy football leagues — hoping for the big runs, the string of big games and it just has not happened. Now he’s battling an ankle injury that, while is not expected to keep him out of the Week 16 game against visiting Jacksonville, surely doesn’t give optimism to using arguably fantasy football’s biggest bust of the 2011 season.
As Johnson struggled through the first half of the season, optimists like myself kept saying “just wait until the back half of that schedule and he will go off.” The first seven games he averaged 8.5 fantasy points per game in Athlon’s half-PPR scoring format; the last seven he’s averaged 12.1. A 3.6-point improvement is not the “going off” I was anticipating.
Johnson’s had four games above 100 yards — three coming since Week 10 — but he’s also had nine games below 60 yards — three coming since Week 10.
Last week’s dud against the Indianapolis Colts’ 30th-ranked run defense was the last straw for me — even before news of the ankle injury. And now he faces a Jacksonville team, ranked 14th against the run, which he opened the season against with a nine-carry, 24-yard day. His six catches for 25 yards is the only thing that saved you from a complete bomb from your RB1 in the opening week of the season — and that’s only if you are in PPR leagues.
If you are in PPR leagues, Johnson’s pass-catching abilities have somewhat eased the pain, but not enough to justify how high a draft pick he was in most leagues. He has a career-high 53 catches for 369 yards and no scores.
The only fantasy players probably getting any bang for their draft buck are the ones that drafted early in August while Johnson was in the height of his holdout this summer. They were able to get him in the late second, early third rounds.
Here’s a look at what Johnson’s holdout for $53 million has produced for you in three types of leagues thus far:
Non-PPR: 151.9 (10.85 ppg)
Athlon’s half-PPR: 179.4 (12.8 ppg)
Full-PPR: 205.9 (14.7 ppg)
This is after two years in which he scored 254.9 (15.9 ppg) and 374.7 (23.4 ppg) fantasy points in the Athlon format — and the 254.9 was considered a down year as he was a top-three pick in 2010 drafts.
So starting Johnson against the Jaguars this week comes down to what do you want from him? He’s on a bum ankle that he reportedly is having trouble cutting on, his home field is not the best track to be playing on this time of year and he averages just 12.8 points per game in Athlon’s half-PPR format.
Jacksonville is allowing 16.1 points per game to opposing teams’ lead ball carriers since Week 8. And if it’s worth anything, the only other team Johnson’s faced twice this season is the Colts, who held him to 55 yards last week and 34 in Week 8. So seeing a team a second time didn’t work out too well the first time this season for CJ.
Start Johnson at your own risk, but I’m done waiting on him.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter