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2012 Draft Prep: Johnson will shine this season

Senior Fantasy Writer
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We used to talk about Andre Johnson piling up stats. Catches, yards and touchdowns were the only things that mattered regarding the Texans receiver, who was once considered the best in the NFL. But now Johnson is being discussed with different numbers – age and injuries.

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Fantasy owners are concerned that at 31 years old he's near the end of his career, especially since he's starting to look fragile. Going back to last year, Johnson has dealt with hamstring problems, which cost him nine games in 2011, offseason knee surgery and an injured groin in training camp. He even had to leave the third preseason game against New Orleans when he got the wind knocked out of him.

Johnson hasn't helped his Fantasy value this offseason by not being 100 percent healthy, but I'm not concerned. I'm expecting a big year for Johnson and the prediction here is he will remain a Top 3 Fantasy receiver.

Calvin Johnson is clearly the No. 1 Fantasy receiver, and Julio Jones has emerged as the No. 2 option. But Andre Johnson is a close third and he will rebound for a big year in 2012. He's ready to prove wrong all the naysayers who think he's done.

"It's fun. I laugh at it," Johnson told the media in Houston. "I don't feel old at all. … I'm ready to go at it again. I missed a lot of time (in 2011) and I feel like I have a lot to prove. I want to show people that I can still play at a high level. To just hear some of the things about me getting old and stuff like that, that's just like a challenge. Like I said, I laugh at it, and I'm excited about this upcoming season."

We're excited for Johnson as well and he could emerge with tremendous Fantasy value if he falls into Round 3 or later. I'm not afraid of him getting hurt even though he hasn't been able to play 16 games each of the past two years.

Last year, Johnson was limited to just seven games due to the hamstring problems. He also missed three games in 2010 and in May he had the arthroscopic surgery on his knee before hurting his groin.

I get the argument that his best days are behind him, but I'll take my chances with Johnson in most leagues with a Round 2 pick. Prior to getting hurt last year, Johnson had 21 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns in his first three games (an average of 14 Fantasy points a week in standard leagues). He also had 13 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games, both with T.J. Yates at quarterback. And in 2010 when he missed three games he still finished with 86 catches, 1,216 catches and eight touchdowns.

Matt Schaub (foot) will return this season, which will help Johnson. He also has no real threat for targets, and Johnson has averaged at least 10 targets a game from 2006-10. Sure, the Texans are a run-first team with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, but Johnson had 162 Fantasy points (12.5 points a week) in 2010 during Foster's breakout season.

Fear Johnson if you want because of his injury history, but just keep in mind what he's capable of doing when healthy. I have no problem taking a risk on him because the rewards should be outstanding. His teammates also recognize his greatness and are counting on him for a big year.

"He's so important to the whole organization," fellow receiver Kevin Walter told the Houston Chronicle. "We need him out here."

Johnson might be near the end of his run as an elite receiver, which is fine. But the epitaph won't be written this year. Johnson is going to have a great season in 2012 and he will return as a Top 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Malcolm Floyd goes deep for two receptions
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:27 pm ET) Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd caught just two passes Sunday, but he made them count in a 22-10 win over the Bills in Week 3.

Floyd brought in both of his passes for 49 yards, the two longest plays of the game for either team. He finished with two receptions on four targets for 98 yards.

Floyd has had an inconsistent role through three games, as he failed to catch a pass in Week 2. He has six receptions for 148 yards and one touchdown through three games, with the Chargers set to take on the Jaguars in Week 4. 


Eli Manning throws two touchdowns in Week 3 win
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:25 pm ET) Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw a pair of touchdowns, and New York earned its first victory of the season during a 30-17 win Week 3 vs. Houston. Manning completed 21 of 28 passes for 234 yards and no touchdowns, finishing with a 123.2 quarterback rating.

He put New York up 7-0 after connecting with Victor Cruz on a 26-yard touchdown pass with 3:21 left in the second quarter. He then gave the Giants a 27-10 lead in the fourth quarter after connecting with Daniel Fells for a 9-yard touchdown with 9:25 left.

Manning almost had a lengthy touchdown pass late in the first quarter, but Cruz couldn't outrun the defense and was dragged down after a 61-yard gain. On the previous drive, Larry Donnell fumbled down inside the 5-yard line after catching a 6-yard pass from Manning.

Manning didn't throw an interception for the first time in eight games dating back to last season. The Giants are back in action Thursday at Washington.


Brian Hoyer good, but not good enough in Week 3
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:24 pm ET) Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer did everything right Sunday against Baltimore - until the game was on the line.

Hoyer missed on his last three attempts, including a short throw over the middle that would have allowed his team to run out the clock. But he still finished 19 of 25 for 290 yards and a 4-yard scoring strike to Miles Austin in the back of the end zone with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

His performance began strong and got better. He completed 6 of 7 for 85 yards in the first quarter, including a 43-yarder to speedster Travis Benjamin, and was 17 of 19 for 214 yards by the end of the third. His 71-yard bomb to Taylor Gabriel with nine minutes remaining in the game could have put his team firmly in control, but poor execution and a missed field goal wrecked that opportunity.

Hoyer and the Browns will have plenty of time to regroup - they are now on their bye week.


Keenan Allen silent in victory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:22 pm ET) Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen played through a groin injury Sunday against the Bills, but didn't make much of an impact in the 22-10 win in Week 3.

Allen got the start but was targeted just twice in the passing game, good for just fifth-most on the team. He hauled in both of those passes thrown his way for just 17 yards, his lowest total since Week 2 of his rookie season.

Allen has struggled to make an impact through three games, hauling in just 12 passes for 109 yards. He will look for more success in Week 4 against the Jaguars. 


Randall Cobb can't get open Week 3
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:21 pm ET) Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb couldn't get open Week 3 against the Lions.

Cobb caught just three passes for 29 yards during the contest. He was targeted six times, which ranked second on the team. The Packers offense was held in check throughout the game, and no player really broke out. Cobb will look for more Week 4 against Chicago. 


Jordy Nelson held in check Week 3
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:16 pm ET) Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson was held in check Week 3 against the Lions.

Nelson led the team in receiving yards and catches, but both figures were off his normal dominant numbers. Nelson hauled in five balls for 59 yards. He was also targeted a team-high seven times. The Lions did a solid job against Nelson most of the game, making it tough for Rodgers to get the ball to his best option. 

Nelson will look for more Week 4 against the Bears. 


Branden Oliver sees first NFL work
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4:15 pm ET) Chargers running back Branden Oliver saw the first work of his career Sunday, in a 22-10 win over the Bills in Week 3.

Oliver saw action as the team's backup running back, after Danny Woodhead was forced out with an ankle injury. Oliver carried the ball three times for 11 yards.

Oliver could see a bigger workload next week, if Woodhead is forced to sit out. The Chargers take on the Jaguars in Week 4. 


Joe Flacco comes in big in crunch time for defeat of Browns
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:15 pm ET) Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco put up mediocre numbers Sunday in Cleveland, but one perfect pass all but sealed a victory.

Flacco hit wide receiver Steve Smith with a pinpoint strike for 33 yards with just over a minute remaining to set up the game-winning field goal. He hit Smith in stride to allow him to leave the field happy despite having completed just 19 of 31 passes for 217 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The veteran did hit on 10 consecutive throws in the second half. He managed to pass for just 86 yards before intermission, though he did find fullback/tight end Kyle Juszczyk for a 9-yard score six minutes into the second quarter. His interception came off a wounded duck when he was hit on a pass early in the fourth quarter, but it resulted in no points.

Flacco will seek more heroics when his team hosts Carolina in Week 4.


Alfred Blue gets close to first career TD Week 3
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:14 pm ET) Texans rookie running back Alfred Blue filled in admirably for the injured Arian Foster in his first career start Week 3 at N.Y. Giants. Unfortunately, his effort was not enough in a 30-17 loss.

Blue finished with 78 rushing yards on 13 carries and added one catch for 10 yards. Though, Blue only had 30 rushing yards on 10 carries before breaking loose for a 46-yard gain with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter. 

Blue also came close to his first career touchdown late in the fourth quarter. However, he was stopped for no gain at the Giants' 1-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick scrambled for a 1-yard score.

The Texans return to action Week 4 vs. Buffalo.


Packers backup rushers do little Week 3
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(4:13 pm ET) The Packers backup running did little Week 3 against the Lions.

James Starks actually led the team in rushing despite receiving just eight carries. He gained 38 yards. DuJuan Harris also got three carries, but only gained 2 yards. 

They'll take on the Bears Week 4. 


 
 
 
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