Matt Leinart is at quarterback for the Houston Texans this week, and perhaps the remainder of the season as Matt Schaub went on injured reserve with a foot injury. And as one key starter goes down, another is expected to return this week in receiver Andre Johnson.
Johnson was on a torrid pace at the start of the 2011 season before a hamstring injury sidelined him for six games. Now he is back and he should pick up right where he left off.
Johnson had three straight games over 17 points — 19, 18.8 and 17.1 — before the hamstring injury shortened his season during a Week 4 game against Pittsburgh. In that game, he had caught four of five targets for 36 yards before leaving in the second quarter.
Now the Texans, and the passing game with Johnson in particular, get a Jacksonville defense ravaged by injuries. Three of the Jaguars’ defensive starters have been placed on injured reserve in the last two weeks, including two defensive backs and a linebacker, and three defensive linemen are likely out against Houston. That means easier matchups for Johnson and more time for Leinart.
Backup cornerbacks Will Middleton and Ashton Youboty, who was signed off the street less than two weeks ago, are expected to start against the Texans, according to reports.
In 14 career games against the Jaguars, Johnson has 85 catches for 1,118 yards and six scores — 6.1 catches, 79.9 yards and .4 TDs per game or 13.4 fantasy points per meeting.
If more evidence were needed as to how important Johnson is to the Texans’ passing game, just look at the targets and catches numbers.
Johnson has 37 targets and 25 catches for 352 yards and two scores through three and half games played. Jacoby Jones has 44 targets, 21 catches for 377 yards and two scores in 10 games, including seven starts. Kevin Walter has 35 targets, 25 catches, 298 yards and two scores in nine games, including eight starts. Despite being gone for six-plus weeks, Johnson still leads the team in catches and yards, is tied for the TD lead and Jones has just seven more targets.
Moral of the story: When Johnson’s out there, they get him the ball and he produces.
Start Johnson with confidence in Week 12.