Chris Johnson: Titans RB Is Smart Fantasy Trade Target

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 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

Chris Johnson might be the worst thing to happen to fantasy owners in the last year. However, this makes him a great candidate for you to complete a cheap trade.

The Tennessee Titans running back was at one point one of the best in the league at his position. Only three years ago, Johnson became the sixth player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. In the two years from 2009-2010, he totaled 28 touchdowns.

His outstanding play carried fantasy owners to championships across the world. However, fans that used a high draft pick on the runner last year and in 2012 have certainly so far been disappointed with his production.

Johnson was taken in the first round of most fantasy drafts this season, with an average selection of 7.3, according to ESPN. In two games, he has produced only 21 rushing yards on 19 carries with no touchdowns. He has added some yardage through the air, but not enough to justify his draft position.

This is enough for many fantasy owners to bail on the talented running back.

Considering he dropped from a top player to 16th among running backs last season, and then down to No. 50 through two games this year, it is not difficult to believe.

Still, there is reason for optimism.

Last season, Johnson started the year with three awful games. He averaged only 2.1 yards over 46 carries.

In the final 13 games of the season, he averaged 4.4 yards per carry. He was still inconsistent, but he added four 100-yard games and ended with a respectable total of 1,047 rushing yards.

Even in his 2,000-yard season, Johnson only had one 100-yard game in his first five before ending the year with 11 straight.

Additionally, the running back has not had much of a chance to succeed this season. In each game, the Titans have trailed by two touchdowns by halftime. This does not leave much room for the running attack to develop.

Defenses have also shown that they have improved tremendously from last season. The San Diego Chargers held Darren McFadden to 32 yards on 15 carries in Week 1, while the Arizona Cardinals needed a big run from cornerback Patrick Peterson to lift its yards per carry against the New England Patriots to 3.2 in Week 2.

Next week, Tennessee faces a Detroit Lions team that allowed 148 rushing yards to Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers. This should give Johnson a better opportunity to shine.

Considering the Titans did not give another running back a single carry against the Chargers, the chance for redemption is there.

After two games, Johnson's value is nowhere near the first-round pick that was spent on him in most leagues. You could be able to acquire him for a player that has been successful early but is unlikely to continue that trend. Players like Alfred Morris or Kevin Smith could be examples of potential trade bait. 

Chris Johnson still has the speed and agility to be a top running back in the league. He was a bad draft pick for many, but he can be a steal if you make the right trade now.