Chris Johnson: Fantasy Owners Should Bench CJ2K in Week 3

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2012

Aug 30, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) during warm up prior to the game against the  New Orleans Saints at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE

A few days ago, I told you not to panic over Chris Johnson after one bad performance. Two games into the season, I think it's safe to say you should start panicking.

But don't trade him. Not yet. For now, you're going to have to sit him on your bench and pray he turns it around. 

We'll get to that in a moment, however. For now, let's dwell on just how horrible his start to the season has been.

Johnson has a measly 21 yards on 19 carries. There are 26 players in the NFL who have had at least one carry of 21 yards or more this season, including four quarterbacks and four wide receivers. Brandon Weeden—BRANDON FREAKING WEEDEN!—has more rushing yards (31) than Johnson.

It gets worse.

He has totaled just 79 yards from scrimmage on 29 touches of the ball. Victor Cruz had an 80-yard touchdown reception yesterday. He hasn't sniffed the end zone. There are 128 players in the NFL that have thus far.

What are fantasy owners supposed to do with Johnson at this point?

You can't trade him right now unless you have a crazy Tennessee Titans fan in your league who has "CJ2K" tattooed on his arm and has started Jake Locker on his team the past two weeks. Otherwise, nobody is going to give you equal value for a player who has just 7.9 fantasy points in two weeks.

And it's probably unfair to completely blame Johnson for his slow start. The Titans have gone into the half trailing 21-3 and 17-3 and have abandoned the running game fairly early in games. Johnson has five carries in the second half this season, and just nine carries after the first quarter.

But you can't trust him, either. He just doesn't seem to have the same burst or ability to break tackles that he once possessed. And he's clearly already frustrated, as he took a not-so-subtle dig at the offensive line after Sunday's game.

From Jim Wyatt and John Glennon of The Tennessean:

“The run game ain’t working,” Johnson said. “We just aren’t executing the plays. I don’t know why we’re not.”

He went on to add:

“People need to step up and do their job,” Johnson said. “They don’t need to let people beat them. It don’t matter who the opposing defense is, you can’t let your guy beat you. You just can’t give up plays. You have to make plays like they make plays. I can’t speak for the defense. I can only speak for the offense.”

It's never a good sign when finger-pointing in the media is already happening after Week 2. While I don't necessarily disagree with Johnson, he hasn't exactly looked like a dangerous running back since returning from his holdout, either.

For all of the reasons above, you have to sit him against the Detroit Lions in Week 3. While the Lions were gashed in the running game by the San Francisco 49ers, they also have a dangerous passing game.

Given how quickly the Titans have fallen behind in their first two games, it's not a stretch to think the Lions will put up points on them rather quickly as well. That means—even if the Titans do find some success running the ball early—Johnson could become forgotten about as the Titans play catch-up for a third week in a row. 

So bench him. I don't think you can completely give up on him yet—who knows what he could accomplish if the Titans actually established a running game?—but I don't think you can trust him with a start, either.

And lord knows you probably can't trade him. Well, unless you don't mind paying 50 cents on the dollar or the curator of his fan page is in your league and offers you a sweet trade offer, that is.

Sorry, CJ2K owners, but you're stuck with him. At this point, you might as well see if he can turn things around.


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