Fantasy Football: Why Chris Johnson Is a Must Start This Week

Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIISeptember 29, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 25:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs the ball against the Denver Broncos at LP Field on September 25, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.   The Titans defeated the Broncos 17 - 14.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

No, I don't think Chris Johnson will break out against the Browns and rush for over 100 yards for the first time this season. What I do think, though, is that he'll amass enough yards rushing and receiving to grab a big number of fantasy points for his owners.

The Browns are ranked 29th in the league right now in rush defense, which does make it likely that CJ2K (now CJ2YPC) will have a much better performance than he has had so far.

However, the real boost to Chris Johnson's fantasy value doesn't come from the lackluster rush defense of Cleveland, it comes from the injury to Kenny Britt.

This may not seem like it makes sense at first, but if you'll hear me out, I think you'll see why Johnson is a must-start this week.

Kenny Britt was, by a pretty wide margin, Matt Hasselbeck's favorite target. With Britt out, Hasselbeck's go to guy is Nate Washington. While Nate Washington is a solid receiver, he has a problem this week against Cleveland: He'll be matched up against Joe Haden.

Cleveland's pass defense is ranked third in the league right now, but don't let that fool you—they aren't that good. Joe Haden, on the other hand, is.

Brandon Marshall, Miami's best receiver, only got four receptions for 43 yards last week because he was constantly covered by Haden. Nate Washington will find himself in that role this week and since Washington is simply not as good as Marshall, Haden may shut him down completely.

With Washington more or less out of the game, Hasselbeck will have to spread the ball around to receivers like Lavelle Hawkins and Damien Williams. However, last week (after Britt went down with an injury) who was Hasselbeck's favorite target after Washington? Chris Johnson.

Hasselbeck targeted Johnson seven times, more than any receiver on the team other than Nate Washington. This week, with Washington covered by Joe Haden, Chris Johnson may very well lead the Titans in receiving yards.

He will also be a favorite target for red-zone passes, which will mean Johnson will probably get his first touchdown of the season this week.

If you combine decent rushing yards (ESPN's simulator is giving him 70 yards this week) with good receiving yards and a couple of touchdowns, Chris Johnson could see a lot of fantasy points this week.

Since Johnson was drafted in the first round by everyone who owns him, I'm guessing most owners don't have a very good third running back to start over a disappointing Chris Johnson. If you own Johnson, don't be swayed by his poor performance so far. Start him this week and rack up a win.