Against the New England Patriots' lackluster secondary, starting Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson would usually be a no-brainer.
However, in the wake of his thigh injury, that assessment does not quite fit heading into the teams' Week 10 contest.
Johnson sat out practice on Wednesday before returning Thursday. He says he will be adding thigh pads for extra protection, but does that help to make him a must-start?
The Bills have other talent at the wide receiver position. Donald Jones in particular has been waiting for a chance to prove his worth and this game could be his perfect opportunity. Jones has 26 catches for 306 yards and three touchdowns this season, including six catches for 65 yards against a stingy Houston Texans defense in Week 9.
Johnson has not been living up to expectations this season as it is. He has just four touchdowns through eight games and 416 yards receiving. The once blossoming connection between Johnson and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has fallen by the wayside, as Johnson has zero games of 100 yards receiving this season.
The Bills are a quick-strike passing attack that utilizes Johnson's burst and acceleration to find holes in the defense. It is unknown if he will possess that skill set while hampered by a thigh injury and this situation seems like a scary one.
Johnson has been nothing more than a WR2 all season, now he is a WR3 or Flex option at best. Tight end Scott Chandler and Jones are both much stronger options this week.
New England ranks 28th in the league, allowing 281 passing yards per game, so it is impossible to count out Johnson completely. However, we also cannot forget Johnson's lack of production when healthy against the Patriots in Week 4.
In that contest, Johnson had only two catches for 23 yards and zero touchdowns. If a healthy Johnson struggled so mightily, it is impossible to deem a hampered Johnson as a must-start in Week 10.
Buy or Sell Verdict: Hard Sell