Through six weeks of the 2013 NFL regular season, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson hasn't been himself. There have been explosive performances sprinkled in between, but for the most part, Megatron has battled injuries and inconsistency during Detroit's 4-2 start.
The question is, how will Johnson fare against the Cincinnati Bengals during Week 7?
Matched up against one of the best and most well-rounded defensive units in the league, it's easy to believe Johnson will run into problems. The Bengals have done an excellent job against the likes of Tom Brady, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers in 2013 and could have similar success versus Detroit.
In the end, look for Johnson to finish with seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Thus far, Johnson has caught 24 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns through five appearances. Those are hardly numbers to complain about, but with two 100-plus-yard performances have also come three games with less than 50 gained.
It doesn't help that Johnson was feeling sore after the Browns' game.
Schwartz on CJ's knee: "He was sore after the game but he’s been sore after practice. It’s too soon to really know if it was any worse"— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 14, 2013
Johnson missed Week 5 with a knee injury and returned with three catches for 25 yards against the Cleveland Browns.
Johnson is under more pressure than any other wide receiver after posting a record-setting 2012 campaign. After catching 122 passes for 1,964 yards and five touchdowns in 2012 and posting 96 receptions for 1,681 yards and 16 scores the year prior, many expected Johnson to continue his tear through the NFL.
As for why you should believe in Megatron moving forward, it's all about opportunity.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson is active today. Since 2011, Johnson leads the league in targets (395), Rec yds (3,957) and Rec 1st downs (185).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 13, 2013
Johnson has 48 targets through five appearances in 2013.
Is Calvin Johnson still the best wide receiver in the NFL?
Johnson's inability to turn those targets into exceptional production is concerning to fantasy football owners across the country. Many have trusted Johnson to be a consistently dominant player, but early in the season, he's failed to be that force.
Just don't forget this is the same player who topped 100 yards receiving in eight consecutive games after an uneven start in 2012.
During Week 7, Johnson will face a tough task with a Bengals defense that ranks No. 9 in the NFL in pass defense. With a deep and opportunistic defensive backfield, Cincinnati could give Megatron trouble as he looks for openings.
With the running game set to face the Bengals' smothering front seven, however, Matthew Stafford will be forced to air it out early and often. The clear benefactor will be Megatron.