Fantasy Football Sleepers 2011: Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills

Nick SeroCorrespondent IIIAugust 9, 2011

MIAMI - DECEMBER 19:  Receiver Steve Johnson #13 of the Buffalo Bills catches a pass  against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Miami, Florida.The Bills defeated the Dolphins 17-14.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

He was the only viable fantasy option in Buffalo last season, and ended the year as the 10th-best receiver in fantasy football. That’s better than DeSean Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald and Marques Colston. For some reason, however, all three of those receivers are being drafted before Steve Johnson.  

We’re not knocking those three receivers, because if were looking at them from a purely athletic ability and skill standpoint, Steve Johnson can’t touch those perennial Pro Bowlers. But in fantasy football, it doesn’t matter how good you are sometimes, but how bad the parts around you are.

Steve Johnson is being drafted as the No. 20 wide receiver and is usually gone by the sixth round in standard leagues. Why would a young, up-and-coming receiver coming off a strong year drop so far in this year’s draft?

We think it is a Buffalo bias, and we understand that mentality. You shouldn’t totally dismiss Steve Johnson as a one-hit wonder though. Even if there is a track record of that happening in Buffalo.

Last year Steve Johnson emerged as a true fantasy star, and was even more valuable in PPR leagues. His consistent numbers on a daily basis made him a phenomenal pickup, likely through waivers. Some may think that Johnson isn’t going to surprise defenses again this season like he did last year, and we have to disagree.

If Johnson had fallen off at the end of the season we would agree, the best kept secret is now more likely a fantasy bust. Johnson didn’t see his stat lines drop though, and posted consistent numbers every single game. This year, Johnson will actually have the chance to spend an entire offseason with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. 

This offseason may be shorter than usual, and the ongoing training camps and preseason games will likely be less crisp than in recent memory. Last year, the Bills’ offense may have actually been far worse off going in to the season, however.

Trent Edwards took nearly all of the first team snaps in the Bills’ preseason games and training camp. Now, Fitzpatrick has been given a full vote of confidence from his coaching staff and will have the chance to work with his starting receivers for a month before the season.

Head Coach Chan Gailey is very good offensive mind, specializing in spread offenses and working with wide receivers. He has already said that he expects Steve Johnson to not only live up to the hype, but to surpass it. So far this offseason the Bills have been working on moving Johnson all over the field in order to reduce the pressure opposing defenses will surely put on him.

Johnson is going to drop some passes, if you followed his Twitter account last season you got read all about them. He will also be the only viable receiving target on the team, as the Bills are currently shopping their No. 2 receiver, Lee Evans, for a trade. 

We like Johnson in all PPR leagues, and expect him to get close if not surpass his 10 touchdowns a year ago. You can pick up Johnson in the sixth round of your draft, but to be safe we suggest drafting him in the fifth. Sure, you’re going to take some heat from the other guys in the room, but you will be laughing all the way to the bank when Johnson helps you win your league.


See all of our fantasy football sleepers here.

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