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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
Packers WR Randall Cobb: 'I don't plan on missing a game'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:44 pm ET) Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb missed the final training camp practice Tuesday due to his sprained right shoulder. However, Cobb feels his time away from the field will be minimal, per PackersNews.com.

“I don’t plan on missing a game,” Cobb said. "I'm doing everything in my power to get back before then, but we still don't know severity. We've still got to get a lot of the swelling out. It definitely is a lot better then what we all thought it was in the beginning."


Cowboys get roster down to 75 players
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:32 pm ET) The Cowboys pared down their roster to 75 players on Tuesday by releasing four and giving injury designations to six, according to the team's official website.

The Cowboys waived linebacker Jonathan Brown, wide receivers Antwan Goodley and David Porter and and tight end Brandon Barden. They also waived/injured defensive end Kenneth Boatright, running back Michael Hill and offensive tackle R.J. Dill.

Dallas also placed Orlando Scandrick on IR, Chaz Green on the PUP list and Mark Nzeocha on the NFI list.


Chiefs' Reid says TE Travis Kelce has 'slightly sprained ankle'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:27 pm ET) Chiefs coach Andy Reid delivered some good news Tuesday regarding the status of tight end Travis Kelce, who left practice Monday due to an injury.

"Travis has a slightly sprained ankle,” Reid said, per the team's official website. “It's not a high ankle sprain. There's a chance if we were playing a regular season game, he'd have a pretty good shot of playing.

“It looks like he got his foot caught in the grass. He just tweaked his ankle a little bit. I think he’s lucky the grass gave way a little bit. That’s what happened.”

The Chiefs open the season Sept. 13 against the Texans, which gives Kelce a little less than two weeks to get ready for the start of the 2015 campaign.

Kelce had a breakout season in 2014, totaling 67 catches for 862 yards and five touchdowns. He is expected to play a key role again in the Chiefs' passing game this season.


Browns backup QB Johnny Manziel expects to be ready for opener
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:05 pm ET) Browns backup quarterback Johnny Manziel said Tuesday he will be ready for the season opener against the Jets. The second-year quarterback missed last week's preseason game due to tendinitis in his right throwing elbow.

"It's something I've dealt with ever season since my freshman year at (Texas) A&M,'' he said, per Cleveland.com.

Manziel added he is confident the soreness will dissipate once he starts throwing less and doesn't feel the injury will negatively impact his career.


Falcons' Quinn says LB Brooks Reed (groin) might need surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:48 pm ET) Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed will get a second opinion on the groin injury that has sidelined him for most of the summer, coach Dan Quinn said Tuesday.

Quinn added surgery might be an option for the veteran linebacker, who signed a five-year deal with Atlanta in March.

“We certainly are concerned,” Quinn said. “We’re just trying to get it right in terms of him getting the strength back to feel like it’s just in the right spot. It certainly is (a concern) for us. He’s got such toughness and edge-setting pressure. So we’re just trying to get him where he’s feeling at his best.”


Saints place DE Anthony Spencer on injured reserve
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:38 pm ET) The Saints have placed defensive end Anthony Spencer on the season-ending injured reserve list, per ESPN.com.

Spencer is dealing with an unspecified injury that has kept him sidelined since the team's first preseason contest. He is coming off a serious knee injury in 2013. 

Spencer has 33 sacks in eight NFL seasons, including 11 in 2012, when he made the Pro Bowl as a member of the Cowboys. 


Panthers cut seven, place WR Benjamin on IR
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:24 pm ET) The Panthers reached the NFL's 75-man limit Tuesday thanks to a series of moves, including placing star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin on the season-ending injured reserve list with a knee injury, per a team release. 

Carolina waived WR Jarrett Boykin, DT Kenny Horsley, S Robert Lester and WR De'Andre Presley, placed OT Davonte Wallace and CB Melvin White on the waived/injured list and reached an injury settlement with DT Micanor Regis.


Steelers give WR Antonio Brown $2 million raise
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(2:14 pm ET) Thanks to some creative math, the Steelers were able to give star receiver Antonio Brown a $2 million bonus for his season, per NFL.com insider Ian Rapoport. 

Brown had considered holding out this season, but reported to camp. The Steelers were able to restructure some contracts and find the extra money, and now Brown will make $8 million this season. 

Brown caught 129 passes for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.


Jets TE Jace Amaro (shoulder) placed on season-ending IR
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:50 pm ET) The Jets announced Tuesday they have placed tight end Jace Amaro on the season-ending injured reserve list due to a torm labrum in his shoulder, per the Daily News.

Amaro will undergo surgery later this week, according to Jets coach Todd Bowles. Amaro had four receptions for 38 yards and two touchdowns last season. 


Rams trim roster by 13 players
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:34 pm ET) The Rams reached the NFL's 75-man roster limit Tuesday with the release of 13 players, per ESPN.com, who include: OT Steven Baker, OT Travis Bond, CB Imoan Claiborne, S Jay Hughes, LB Keshaun Malone, LS Tyler Ott, K/P Michael Palardy, WR Tyler Slavin, TE Brad Smelley (waived/injured), LB Korey Toomer (waived/injured), C David Wang, WR Damian Williams (contract terminated) and DT Doug Worthington.

CB E.J. Gaines (foot) was placed on injured reserve. The Rams had previously waived/injured receiver Isiah Ferguson but he reverted to injured reserve with a torn ACL.


 
 
 
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