Chris Johnson has a major factor working against his 2013 fantasy football value, and it’s not his inconsistency—it’s his offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains.
The Tennessee Titans fired Chris Palmer from the OC position in November. Johnson had some statistical struggles prior to the firing, starting the season off with a terrible 45 rushing yards on 33 carries in his first three games. He added just nine catches for 63 yards, including a season-high six catches in Week 1 against the New England Patriots.
Prior to Palmer’s firing, however, Johnson turned it around: The burner recorded over 100 total yards in seven of the next eight contests. He totaled 897 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 158 carries (5.6 average) in addition to 17 receptions for 112 yards (6.0 average).
Since Palmer was let go, Johnson has had exactly two runs of 26 yards or longer—and they took place in different games. He had a 26-yard rush against the Houston Texans in Week 13 and a 94-yard sprint against the New York Jets in Week 15.
Johnson’s breakaway ability is why you’ll want to invest in the Titans rusher next year, but under Loggains, a former quarterbacks coach, Tennessee’s featured back has not been impressive. The word featured might even be a bit generous; he has taken 18.3 touches per game under Loggains after averaging 21.9 in the eight games before that.
Aside from the long gain against New York, Johnson received 63 carries for 151 yards. That’s 2.4 yards per carry—and he lost a fumble.
Tennessee scored 13.5 points per game against the Texans and Jets (both at home), Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers (on the road). If it doesn’t drastically improve its offense with the coaching staff that it has or go after a veteran offensive mind this summer—both of which are possible scenarios—there may be even more coaching moves made during the year next season.
Of course, that lack of continuity would likely be problematic for Johnson and the rest of the Titans offense. There’s too much fluidity in this situation to consider Johnson a fantasy first-rounder in 2013.
For more fantasy football analysis, follow Jamal on Twitter: Follow @StatManJ