Chris Johnson: Why Fantasy Owners Should Look to Buy Low on Chris Johnson

Quinn CrettonCorrespondent ISeptember 12, 2012

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 17:  Running back Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans rushes upfield against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFL preseason game August 17, 2012 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Coming off of a disappointing 2011 campaign, Chris Johnson looked to silence his critics in the first game of 2012.

Instead, he carried the ball 11 times for four yards in the Tennessee Titans' 34-13 loss to the Patriots.

With so many fantasy owners already looking to unload Johnson and simply write him off as a bust, the time is right to take a flier on Johnson and see if you can land him for pennies on the dollar.

Though four rushing yards is never acceptable for a starting running back, it's important to keep in mind that the Titans fell behind early and were forced to rely on the passing game in an attempt to create big plays and get the team back into the game.

While it is unlikely that we will ever see Chris Johnson replicate his 2,000-yard season, he is still one of the fastest players in all of football and one of the few true feature backs left in the game.

On a team that should be in close games throughout the season, having a running back that should touch the ball at least 20 times a game is a valuable commodity for every fantasy owner, and Chris Johnson's potential production should not be overlooked based on his struggles in Week 1.

With Jake Locker at quarterback and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer calling the plays, it appears as though Johnson's role in the passing game will increase as the Titans start to spread the offense out with more frequency.

Already in Week 1, fantasy owners saw Chris Johnson's potential as a pass-catcher, as he hauled in six passes for 47 yards. While the yardage may not blow anyone away, the attempt to get him into space and get him five or so more touches a game should equal an extra 500-700 yards as a receiver by the end of the season, which should serve to help make up for even his worst weeks running the football.

With Hall of Fame offensive lineman Mike Munchak as head coach, it can be all but assured that the Titans will look to retool their running game on the fly, replacing struggling linemen if need be.

Though that may affect the overall chemistry of the unit initially, having a coach that is committed to running the football should help Johnson find some consistency in his touches as the season progresses.

For fantasy owners, it's important to remember to have patience early on in the season and to build towards a potential playoff run.

When looking at the potential of trading for Chris Johnson, in the crucial Weeks 14-16, when most fantasy leagues are in their postseason, Johnson has a favorable schedule that includes the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14 and the Green Bay Packers in Week 16, with the New York Jets sandwiched in between.

Although it's important to never take a playoff berth for granted, having a talented running back with strong matchups in those weeks can prove the difference between a disappointing playoff and a fantasy championship.

With all of this said, there are no guarantees in fantasy football.

Chris Johnson may never be the Chris Johnson of old. However, if you're going to take a risk on a player off to a slow start, taking a shot on someone who holds the NFL record for yards from scrimmage in a season is a risk worth taking.