In 2009, Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson was the clear cut No. 1 running back.
He led the league in carries, rushing yards, yards per game, yards from scrimmage, and he even had the longest rush. He became only the sixth back in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards. If you were fortunate enough to have Johnson in a PPR league, he had 50 receptions too.
He could do no wrong.
On the other hand, if you had Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, you couldn't complain either. He had 1,819 total yards and 18 touchdowns.
Heading into the 2010 season and with the thousands of fantasy drafts that will occur leading up to the opening week of the NFL season, Johnson and Peterson find themselves entangled in a battle for the No. 1 pick in your fantasy draft.
Excluding Johnson's 2009 season, there have been five other 2,000 yard backs and their following seasons were all huge letdowns.
Sure, you may say: How do you repeat a historic achievement in two straight seasons? That isn't my point. The point is, Johnson likely peaked so the question becomes where do his statistics settle at? Does he take a nose-dive down to 1,200 yards and 8 TDs? Or does he slip slightly to 1,750 yards and 12 TDs?
Between O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, and Jamal Lewis, each 2,000 yard back averaged a 50 percent drop in their rushing yards the following season.
Davis skews these statistics a bit since he got injured the next season but that's sort of the point, isn't it? Sanders fared the best, only dropping about 27 percent, but that was his last season before he retired. He might've known it was his time and that his body had enough.
Dickerson and Lewis compare best to Johnson. Dickerson rushed for over 2,000 yards in his second season, Lewis in his third, and Johnson in his second. Between Lewis and Dickerson, there was roughly a 48 percent drop in yards and 33 percent drop in touchdown production.
It's not all negative. Johnson is clearly still the best player on the Titans and it goes without saying that his decline after leading the NFL in carries can only slip so far considering his youth. In addition, Johnson is on a team that has no other serious offensive weapon so they are forced to feed him the ball.
Of all the backs who have rushed for 1,800-plus yards in a season, none of them ever hit their career wall at Johnson's age.
Due to this fact, it is very difficult to then assume he will suffer a dramatic decline.
320 carries for 1,632 yards and 13 touchdowns, two fumbles lost. 41 receptions for 356 yards and one TD. Roughly 278 fantasy points.
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