Last season, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson drove fantasy owners nuts with his erratic play. He produced only 108 yards on 42 carries in his first three games. Those are terrible numbers for a player fantasy owners draft in the second or third round. His output did improve as the season progressed. He finished with 1,243 yards and six touchdowns on 276 carries.
The one big highlight of that season came on Dec. 17 at the expense of the New York Jets. Everybody honored the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims. Johnson expressed his condolences by having the victims’ names written all over his shoes and running a career-best 94 yards for a touchdown.
However, Johnson’s production is nowhere close to his 2009 season, where he ran for 2,006 yards and became the sixth person in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards. Part of the blame was last season, the offense was more balanced. Johnson’s personal goal remains to repeat his 2,000-yard performance. Can he do it in 2013?
This season, new coach Mike Munchak wants Johnson to have more receptions, as he did in 2011 (57) and 2009 (50). He’ll be a double threat running and catching the ball. History shows that he’s adept at both options. Munchak’s new philosophy emphasizes the run, which makes Johnson ecstatic. The team has signed guard Andy Levitre and drafted another guard in Chance Womack to boost the offensive line and help make bigger holes for Johnson to run.
The hitch is the Titans brought Shonn Greene from the Jets to be Johnson’s backup. While Johnson remains the lead back, Greene will take away some goal line situations. These changes definitely show Johnson’s fantasy numbers this season will be better than last season’s, but not by much. 1,340 yards, 280 carries and seven touchdowns sounds about right. Select him in the third round or later.