Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson failed to finish as the top scoring wide receiver in fantasy football last year for the first time since 2010, but he had another excellent season with 84 receptions for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider had a right knee issue that caused him to miss two games and he also played with a lingering finger issue. “Megatron” has been limited to this point in offseason work, but big things should be expected from him again this year.
Despite reportedly having to have his knee drained every week last season and essentially playing with nine good fingers, Johnson still finished in the top-10 of the league in touchdowns and yards per catch (17.8; third) as well as ninth among wide receivers in targets (156; 11.1 per game). Better health this year could yield improved numbers.
The Lions threw the ball 39.6 times per game last year (fifth-most in the league), and even if new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi brings a more balanced approach Matthew Stafford should be dropping back plenty again this year.
Johnson may see more single coverage this year, with the additions of wide receiver Golden Tate in free agency and tight end Eric Ebron in May’s draft to help divert defensive attention.
Johnson has only missed six games in seven NFL seasons, but the cumulative effect of multiple minor issues, and the possibility of recurrence, could become a concern as he enters his age-29 season.
Johnson has usually been far and away the No. 1 option for Stafford, due to a lack of other proven options, but the presence of Tate and Ebron makes a reduction in his target volume likely this year.
Johnson is likely to still be the first wide receiver off the board in fantasy drafts this year, but his reign as the clear-cut No. 1 option at the position is over. He is also no longer a guaranteed first-round pick, depending on your league format and size, due to the depth available at wide receiver. Fantasy owners know what they’re getting with Johnson, and he’s a stud that can be built around, but if he puts together another season like 2012 (122 receptions for 1,964 yards) ever again I’ll be shocked.
Bye Week : Week 9
Projected Round: First Round
Auction Value: $51 (ESPN.com)
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.