The unexpected fall from grace that has hit the Detroit Lions offense has had many fantasy implications. The biggest being Calvin Johnson falling from the “Elite” wide receiver category into the mid-level starter tier. I wrote a Buy Low article on Johnson a few weeks ago and practiced what I preached. I gave up Matt Forte and Steve Johnson for the coveted Megatron. I was in need of an upgrade at wide receiver and had a stable full of running backs, so I let it fly. Hindsight is 20/20, and I may have bought too early.
The sputtering Lions offense has puzzled many fantasy gurus, as Matt Stafford and Johnson have only connected for 1 touchdown through 6 games. Many thought, including myself, that the bye week would be dedicated to showcasing Megatron against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. Boy we were wrong. Johnson didn’t have a reception in the first half, and ended up with only 3 for 34 yards. It was a pitiful showing.
Sure, you say, “Johnson has topped the 100 yard mark 3 times this year, and that’s great by most receivers’ standards.” This is true, but you didn’t draft Johnson according to those standards. You bought a guy who was coming off a 2011 campaign with 16 touchdowns and 1,681 yards. A fantasy player’s value is relative to what you had to give up for him. You gave a first round pick for a guy who was going to produce 10-12 touchdowns and 1,400 yards, right? Well, through 7 weeks he has 592 yards and only 1 touchdown.
When you are looking down the top producing wide receivers this year, you find Johnson slotted with mid-level receivers like Randall Cobb (435 yards, 3 TDs), Miles Austin (428 yards, 4 TDs), and Percy Harvin (577 yards, 2 TDs). Like I mentioned before, this production can surely help you win your week, but owners drafted Johnson to dominate their league on a weekly basis.
With all of this being said, my fantasy panic alarm hasn’t gone off yet. I am still confident Johnson and Stafford will start connecting. I wouldn’t expect anymore 34 yard games. The next 4 opponents are all outside the top 10 in least receiving yards allowed. Whether it is blind faith or the notion that the Lions will ultimately figure out how to get Johnson more involved, especially in the end zone, I don’t think Johnson will end the year as a mid-level starter. For NFL teams, you are what your record is. For Johnson, you are what your stats are, and surprisingly, that’s not an elite wide out through 7 weeks.
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