Fantasy Football Buy or Sell: Steve Johnson
After three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, Steve Johnson was a huge disappointment to Buffalo Bills fans and fantasy football owners everywhere. Johnson caught just 52 balls in 2013 to go with 597 yards and three touchdowns, and he finished the season 56th among receivers in fantasy points in standard scoring leagues.
This offseason, the Bills shipped Johnson off to the San Francisco 49ers. Will a change of scenery help Johnson bounce back? Or should fantasy owners ignore the veteran receiver completely?
Unless I’m taking a late-round flier in a 16-team league or deeper, I’m not buying Stevie.
Living in upstate New York, I’ve had the pleasure (more like displeasure if I’m being honest) of watching pretty much every Bills game over the last decade. Being a fantasy football writer for over a year now, I’ve also had the pleasure — ahem — of rewatching most of his 2013 snaps on film. I’ve seen a lot of Johnson.
When I think of Johnson, two things immediately pop into my mind. First, he’s really good at getting open out of the slot. He’s extremely quick off the snap and he’s very elusive. Second, he has bricks for hands, especially in pressure situations. Johnson has the tendency of getting himself wide open and then dropping cupcake passes, especially with the game on the line.
With all of that out on the table, why shouldn’t you buy into a Johnson revival in San Francisco?
First, he does his best work out of the slot and over the middle of the field. In San Francisco, they have a guy named Vernon Davis who dominates that portion of the field. Davis is a much more talented player than Johnson, and he has an excellent rapport with Colin Kaepernick.
Second, the 49ers don’t throw the ball around a ton and Johnson, at best, is the fourth option. Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin are stalwarts on the outside and like I mentioned above, Davis owns the middle. Unless one of those three guys go down, can you really expect a ton of targets to go Johnson’s way?
Third, if he drops a few key passes early in the season, is he going to be able to stay on the field? When he was in Buffalo, the Bills had so little talent at wide receiver that even when he let them down they’d have to turn to him again because they had nobody else. That’s not the case in San Francisco though. If he fails to come through in key situations, they’re talented enough that they can phase them out of their offense completely if they feel necessary.
I’m not getting anywhere close to Stevie in 2014, and based on ADP, most other fantasy owners are right there with me. According to fantasypros.com, Johnson is the 63rd receiver being taken in drafts and you can have him in the 21st round. Unless you’re in a 16-team league or deeper, Johnson should be entirely off your radar.