Calvin Johnson: Fantasy Draft Value, Red Flags and Predictions for Lions WR

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2012

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the game against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field on November 24, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

This just in: Calvin Johnson is really, really, really good at football, and you should try to draft him for your fantasy-football squad.

Well, thanks for reading, folks, I think I'll call it a day.

In all seriousness, Johnson was a beast in 2011, and fantasy owners have taken notice. His Average Draft Position in ESPN snake drafts is 7.5, meaning if you want him this year, you'll have to take him with a first-round pick.

So is he worth a selection that high? Does a player with his immense talent actually have any red flags? Is it safe to assume he can repeat his epic 2011 production?

Ah, see, that's why I'm here. There are always questions to be answered, even with a player as talented as Johnson. Let's take a closer look at the player they call Megatron.


Fantasy Strengths

Not since Randy Moss caught 23 receiving touchdowns in 2007 have we seen a more dominant season than the one Megatron put together in 2011.

There is no reason to think that Johnson can't repeat a 2011 season that saw him catch 96 passes for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. Teams can do whatever they like, but as Megatron has shown, rolling coverages to his side or double-teaming him doesn't slow him down.

Johnson had just four weeks last year when he finished with fewer than double-digit fantasy points, and he had 16 or more fantasy points nine times. Nine times! It doesn't get much better than that for wide receivers.

If I need to sell you on the virtues of Johnson, well, I hope you have nice furnishings in that rock you've been living under.


Fantasy Red Flags

No, appearing on the cover of Madden isn't a red flag. Curses aren't real, folks, and Johnson doesn't often miss games. Yes, he battles injuries that have hobbled him in the past, but over the past two years he has 2,801 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns.

So no, I'm not worried about him getting hurt.

But I am worried about the possibility that Matthew Stafford might go down with an injury. He left Saturday night's game with a left-hand injury (though he said he would have kept playing if it were a regular-season game), and he missed 19 games to injuries in 2009 and 2010.

Sure, he made it through 2012 unscathed. But if Stafford goes down, Johnson's fantasy value will take a hit. Megatron still put up solid numbers in 2010 despite Stafford playing just three games, but without his starting quarterback, you can't expect a repeat of his epic 2011 numbers, either.


Film Study

Go ahead, double-team him—it won't work. He is simply amazing.


Draft Day Value

He's worth a first-round pick, no two ways about it. He's not only head-and-shoulders above any wide receivers you might find—in standard-scoring leagues, he had 44 more fantasy points than the next best receiver, Jordy Nelson—but he also scored the 11th-most points overall and had more points than all but two running backs (Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy).

Plus, in a year marked by so many question marks at running back, Johnson's value only increases. After Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy and perhaps Chris Johnson, which running back do you really feel comfortable drafting with a first-round pick?

For my money, Johnson should be the seventh player off the board behind Foster, Rice, McCoy, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. You can find nice values at running back in the second and third rounds, and if you play your matchups correctly during the season, you can wait on quarterbacks and draft two solid performers in the middle rounds.


Tweet That Says It All

Game recognize game. Tell them what it is, Barry Sanders:

Some of you are asking who my favorite player in the game is right now. I'm gonna have to go with Calvin Johnson. Strong work ethic.

— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) August 23, 2012

Listen, if No. 20 digs your game, you know you're special. I know they have the whole Lions connection going, but honestly, is there a more breathtaking player to watch than Megatron?



Games Catches Yards Touchdowns
15 88 1,450 14


Yes, I think he'll see a slight dip in production this season. Only one receiver in NFL history has ever caught 15 touchdown passes or more in consecutive seasons (Jerry Rice in 1986 and 1987), so I'd be surprised if Johnson had 16 again. 

But he also has an elite quarterback (Stafford) throwing him passes, in an offense that threw the ball more times last year (666 attempts) than any other team in the NFL and was fourth in yards per game (300.9).

His combination of size, strength, athleticism, speed and consistency is rare, if not unprecedented, and at 26 years of age he's in his prime. If he's available to you in the bottom half of the first round, you best think very long and hard about selecting him.

Megatron will dominate once more in 2012.


Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets have an ADP of one.

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