There’s no telling exactly how the New York Jets will plan to employ newly acquired running back Chris Johnson in the 2014 NFL season. The team found their lead back last season when they traded for New Orleans Saints running back Chris Ivory. He had a decent first season in New York, but due to his violent running style, he will always be considered an injury risk. That is why it was a really smart move for the Jets to pick up Johnson in the offseason. Granted, Johnson is not the same player who ran for 2,000 yards a few years ago, but he still posses some of the home-run ability that made him one of the hottest running backs in the league a few seasons ago.
Many fantasy football owners may not like the idea of drafting a player like Johnson. One look at his statistics from the past couple seasons has shown a sharp decline in Johnson’s numbers. Ever since the 2009 season in which the running back ran for 2,000 yards, the Tennessee Titans chose to use him like an every-down back, which doesn’t exactly fit his playing style. Yes, there was a time in which “CJ2K” was one of the most feared runners in the league, but those days are over now that Johnson is closing in on 30 years old.
The Jets will focus on using Johnson and Ivory as compliments to each other, Ivory will be the big bruiser who can move the chains, and Johnson will be known as the home-run hitter who has the ability to bust out a long touchdown run at any time. No longer will Johnson be relied on for over 200 carries like he was with the Titans. That should only help his numbers with New York. The team is trying to focus on quality, not quantity when it comes to utilizing Johnson.
While it may seem a bit ludicrous as a fantasy owner to draft a guy who you know isn’t going to receive a bulk of the snaps, he is a player who is still worth selecting with a late pick. It may seem a bit unclear at this point, but Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg should be able to pull the very best out of Johnson. Mornhinweg will use Johnson as the main passing down back, which should only increase his value in PPR leagues. Fantasy owners should head into drafts viewing Johnson as a solid RB3 with upside. He is a player who is worth targeting as a good late-round selection.