Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions reportedly played through a concussion in the second half of the Week 4 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Though the Lions are denying it, Johnson was apparently shaken up by the hit, raising questions for fantasy owners about his status going forward.
Johnson got hit helmet-to-helmet by Minnesota’s Chad Greenway on the Lions’ TD drive in the fourth quarter but returned to the game. Megatron finished with five catches and 54 yards. All five of his catches came before the hit from Greenway, including four in the first half.
Still, the significantly ineffective Johnson could put fantasy owners in a bit of a predicament moving forward, especially since the Lions’ bye week was last week, leaving no additional rest for the potentially injured star receiver.
He is not on the Lions injury report this week.
In regular Yahoo! fantasy leagues, Johnson was projected to be the highest scoring WR and fourth-highest scoring player, regardless of position. He was projected higher than QBs Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Three RBs projected higher than the standout receiver.
Johnson was projected to hit almost 220 points with over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns. With 423 receiving yards this season, he has averaged over 12 points per week. He is projected to rack up over 56 points in the next four weeks, but that was "pre-concussion."
Fantasy owners are in a bit of a bind with Johnson’s status and should watch this week’s contest against the Philadelphia Eagles very carefully. When he is healthy, Johnson is a must-start and there is little reason to believe he wouldn’t be effective.
The sixth-year receiver has missed just three games in his career and hasn’t missed one since the 2009-10 season. Coming off a career year last season, Johnson hasn’t disappointed so far, except for the Lions’ inability to find the end zone.
The Lions are tied for 24th in the league in touchdowns with nine, with five of those coming through the air. Only one of those TDs belongs to the Georgia Tech product.
A large part of Johnson’s effectiveness is the trust his QB Matthew Stafford has in his ability to corral jump balls. At 6’5”, he is a great red-zone threat, but the Lions have struggled inside the 20.
According to NFLstatpages.com, the Lions have had 16 drives into the red zone. They have scored on 12 of those drives but have notched just eight touchdowns. Their 75-percent red-zone scoring ranks them 29th in the NFL.
This makes the potential injury to Johnson even more important to fantasy owners of not only Megatron, but the rest of the Lions offense.
Johnson is projected by ESPN to be the top-performing receiver in Week 6 and is a must-start this weekend. However, his status should be monitored from week to week.
The Lions will do everything they can to avoid sitting their best offensive weapon and so should fantasy owners. The Eagles are 19th in the NFL against WRs, giving up 18.6 points per game.
The last time Megatron faced the Eagles was in Week 2 of 2010. He went for five catches, 50 yards and a touchdown. If that’s the case this week, it won’t exactly be a stellar week from Johnson, but fantasy owners won’t be kicking themselves over it, either.
Another split to consider: Johnson is performing better in all statistical categories when on the road. He has seven more catches, nearly 100 more yards and also caught his only touchdown on the road this season.
The Lions travel to Philly this weekend.
It will be interesting to see the game plan with Johnson this Sunday. How many routes will Johnson run towards the safeties? Will he lose any snaps? Will the team be more cautious of him in the red zone?
Johnson is a must-start this weekend and with upcoming games against Chicago (21st against WRs) and Seattle (25th), he has favorable matchups in the near future. However, fantasy owners should be wary of his effectiveness and role moving forward with the Lions' bye week behind them.