There weren’t many more disappointing players last year than Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. Not only did he prove that the CJ2K moniker could go away, but he barely mustered up enough rushing yards (1,047) even to be called CJ1K.
I don’t see a 2009 repeat, but can he return to 2008 or 2010 form?
Besides his career-low rushing number last year—which was somewhat offset by his career-high 57 catches and 418 receiving yards, giving him a respectable 1,465 total yards—there were a few things in play that frustrated non-PPR fantasy owners.
After averaging 4.9 and 5.6 yards per carry in his first two seasons, Johnson has declined the past two years. In 2010 he managed 4.3 yards per carry, but last year he was down to a very marginal 4.0 YPC. That’s simply not cutting it for one of the game’s most electric backs.
The other area that suffered, and this really resonated with fantasy owners, was his touchdown decline. In his first three seasons in the league, Johnson combined for 10, 16 and 12 touchdowns, respectively. He has always been a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
Last year, however, he managed to score just four rushing touchdowns, and for the first time in his career, he didn’t add a receiving score.
Another indication of his mediocre season was his lack of 100-yard games. After combining for 20 the past two seasons, he manged just four, matching his rookie-year total.
The early preseason results show that he could be back on track.
He scored on a pair of 14-yard touchdown runs in Friday’s win over Tampa Bay. He struggled in Tennessee's opener, but his performance over the Buccaneers was a good sign that he continues to have that special burst to which nobody else can lay claim.
Chris Johnson is not a top-three running back anymore, but he’s in the top five in my book and definitely deserving of a first-round fantasy pick.
Even if he doesn’t reclaim his CJ2K status.
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