Peanut butter and jelly, hot dogs and baseball, spaghetti and meatballs. In case you somehow weren’t aware, these are things that go together. However, there seems to be something missing from this list, isn’t there?
Oh, now I remember. Early season struggles and running back Chris Johnson.
We’ve seen it happen three straight seasons now, and it continues to frustrate the heck out of fantasy owners. Whether it’s the matchups, him, the team, whatever the case may be, Johnson just seems to consistently get off to an incredibly slow start each and every year. 2013 has been no different at all, as Johnson is averaging an ugly 3.1 yards per carry, and his only touchdown of the season came on a fluky, shovel pass that went the distance. In fact, in his last three contests, Johnson has carried the ball 37 times, only to rush for 71 yards. That is just flat out atrocious. He’s been bad, folks. Looking for the home run play, hesitating, rather than taking what’s given and making something out of it. However, as bad as he’s been, we have seen this before. He starts off as one of the worst backs in the league, but as the season progresses, he heats up, ultimately finishing as a top-20 fantasy back. So, of course, assuming this is set to happen again, fantasy owners may want to do the unthinkable.
That’s right. Buy low.
Don’t get me wrong. Johnson has been horrible, but he still remains one of the most talented backs in the league once he gets going. And I’m not making excuses, but games against Pittsburgh, Houston, San Diego, New York Jets, Kansas City and Seattle certainly don’t help matters. Four of those defenses rank in the bottom five in fantasy points allowed to running backs per contest (KC, SD, SEA, NYJ). Luckily for CJ(?)K, most of his tough matchups are behind him, and it gets a little bit easier down the road. He faces a relatively tough 49ers defense this week, but their run defense hasn’t been as stout as in year’s past, currently allowing 112 rushing yards per contest and seven scores. Let’s take a look at some of Johnson’s matchups coming up.
FPPG to RBs
If he doesn’t pick it up over the next three or four weeks, owners can officially start panicking. Johnson can’t blame his offensive line like in year’s past. The Titans brought in guard Andy Levitre via free agency, and drafted a mammoth of a lineman in Chance Wormack last April. Every offseason move this team has made has been to improve the running game, so it’s up to Johnson now to start producing. An encouraging sign is the fact that Johnson is starting to become more of a part of the passing game, as the back has caught seven balls over the last two games. The pass-catching bonus was something that was missing during the first few weeks of the season.
The running back position as a whole has been rather ugly, so if you can acquire a guy with the skills and opportunity of Johnson, go for it. Just make sure you don’t overpay.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.