Stevie Johnson Injury: How Is Bills' Ryan Fitzpatrick's Fantasy Stock Affected?

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIISeptember 20, 2011

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills throws a pass during an NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The 2-0 Buffalo Bills are easily the biggest early surprise of the 2011 NFL season.

One of the keys to the team's early success has been the electric connection between receiver Stevie Johnson and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Despite being hampered by a nagging groin injury, Johnson has hauled in 12 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns so far this season.

But the fourth-year wideout was clearly bothered by the injury during Sunday's comeback win over the Oakland Raiders.

Johnson finished that contest with eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown, but said after the game that he was in serious pain.

Fitzpatrick has been a fantasy gold mine thus far, as the Harvard grad has completed 45 of 71 passes (63.4 percent) for 472 yards, with seven touchdowns and one interception.

His 109.6 quarterback rating is off the charts and he has displayed poise and leadership in the pocket while leading the Bills.

The most impressive thing about Fitzpatrick is how smart he has been with the ball. Yeah, sure he went to Harvard, but book smarts don't always account for instinct when it comes to the quarterback position.

While Johnson was slowed on Sunday, Fitzpatrick still found him eight times, but he also opened up his arsenal and hit unheralded second-year man David Nelson 10 times for 83 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

Nelson has turned from an undrafted nobody into a big, physical, reliable target.

If Johnson does end up missing time—and it is unclear if he will at this point—expect Nelson to lead the Bills in receptions.

Fitzpatrick now trusts him fully, and will look to get the 6'5" receiver involved even more.

Even if Johnson doesn't miss games, groin injuries are difficult to play through. He will be slowed, which means his fantasy stock could drop.

In fact, it might be best if the Bills force him to sit until he's fully healed, or else it will almost certainly bother him all year.

For some reason I don't get the feeling Fitzpatrick will suffer with Johnson slowed or on the bench.

Roscoe Parrish looks like he'll miss time with an ankle injury as well, but there is something about Fitzpatrick that tells me he'll soldier through and find ways to move the Bills' offense.

Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will certainly see more carries—and probably more passes out of the backfield—but I still think Fitzpatrick will get things done.