Before you get all bent out of shape, I’m not saying that you need to bench Andre Johnson for the Houston Texans‘ water boy. Johnson leading the NFL in targets is no fluke, and with the narrative out of the Texans camp seeming pointing in a positive direction when regarding his Week 2 concussion, you’ve probably left him in your starting lineup and not thought twice about it.
But what if you play in a weekly fantasy league, where you assemble a new team on a weekly basis? Should you invest top dollar (Yahoo! has him projected as the third-best fantasy receiver, while ESPN ranks him inside the top-10 as well) in the veteran as he travels to face the Baltimore Ravens defense this week?
I’m bucking the trend and saying no. Listen, I understand the argument for Johnson, and in the long term, I’m with you. But in a one-week vacuum, there are upwards of 15 wide receivers I’d rather have, and that is without taking their price tag into consideration.
Johnson is a great talent, but with the NFL buckling down on its concussion policy, you at least have to consider him a risk to not finish this game, even if he does start it. The Ravens play a physical brand of football, and are now an underrated unit after Peyton Manning torched them in a standalone Week 1 game.
Even if we assume (and you know what they say about assuming) Johnson starts and ends this game with a clean bill of health, I’m not overly optimistic on him proving worthy of the WR1 label.
The Texans make their money running the ball, and with a healthy Arian Foster and Ben Tate, there is no reason to think they will stray from that game plan. Matt Schaub is a capable NFL quarterback, but using Manning’s historic seven-touchdown performance as a reason to trust Schaub this week isn’t a reasonable argument.
This season, Houston tight ends have been targeted 20 times (14 catches for five touchdowns) with an aDOT (average depth of target) of 7.5 yards. This reflects that Schaub is willing to check down to Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham when the Texans are in need of a few yards and aren’t running the ball.
So if Johnson isn’t going to see many short targets (the running backs have seen 16 targets with an aDOT of -2.01), surely he is the team’s top playmaker down the field, right?
Rookie DeAndre Hopkins actually holds that title, as he has been targeted 19 times (the same number of targets Wes Welker has thus far) with an aDOT that is 30 percent higher than that of Johnson. Yes, Johnson is getting a lot of looks, but it seems that the Texans have identified specialists that they prefer when it comes to racking up the fantasy points. Daniels, Graham and Hopkins all average more standard points per snap this season than Johnson.
Johnson has scored twice (the same number of times Jeremy Kerley has found paydirt) in his last 15 games, playoffs included, and isn’t fully healthy. That doesn’t sound like a wide receiver trending in the right direction, let alone a player I want leading my team this week. This is going to be a great game, but one I’m not looking at for tremendous fantasy value.