Few players have frustrated fantasy football owners more over the past two seasons than Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. While his inconsistent production has destroyed lineups, he should be a safe play in Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills.
It has often seemed like picking the winning lottery numbers would be easier than figuring out when Johnson would actually produce like an elite running back. But since owners had to use a high draft pick to acquire him, it's tough to leave him on the bench.
Johnson is coming off a solid performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, gaining 91 yards on 19 carries and catching four passes for 23 yards. It's the type of production owners would like to see from him on a weekly basis.
His lackluster numbers aren't all his fault, of course. The Titans offensive line hasn't been able to open rushing lanes on a consistent basis, something Johnson hasn't been afraid to point out over the last few seasons. But he praised the front five after the Steelers game (via John Glennon of The Tennessean):
They did a tremendous job, getting on those guys up front and pushing them back and giving me some room to run. If I’m not doing what I have to do and they’re doing what they have to, it’s not going to work. And if I’m doing what I need to do and they’re not, it’s going to work either. So we need each other.
While the offensive line has been an issue, Johnson hasn't illustrated the same explosiveness either. He's been more tentative in the backfield, not making the same quick one-cut moves that made him unstoppable during his 2,000-yard campaign.
Against Pittsburgh, his runs looked a lot more fluid, a sign that things might finally be falling back into place. If he can string together two strong games in a row, his fantasy owners won't have as many headaches when putting their lineup together each week.
He has a great chance to do exactly that against the Bills on Sunday. Buffalo ranks dead last in rush-yards allowed at nearly 175 per game, and the team's defense has also given up more rushing touchdowns than any other team.
Johnson has also had a lot of success in his previous meetings with the Bills. In two starts, he's rushed for 285 yards and four touchdowns. It's the highest amount of yards per game he has against any opponent he's faced at least twice.
It all adds up to another good outing for Johnson, which would be his third in his last four games. He might not have turned the corner quite yet, but it seems like he's getting close. Play him with confidence in Week 7.
Projection: 17 fantasy points