For the third year in a row Chris Johnson has done it to us again, coming out of the gate with a maddening lack of productivity. The former 2,000-yard rusher, the man who once ran for 14 touchdowns and 11 the next, has yet to score a rushing touchdown. In fact, he's lucky for the one touchdown he has -- a reception off of a broken play where he, to his credit, made several Chiefs defenders miss en route to a 49-yard play in Week 5.
But other than that play he's been statistically soft. He has one game this season with over 4.0 yards per carry and is just now starting to become a bigger player in the passing game (nine catches in his last three). At the beginning of the season you could tell he was trying hard to pick up chunks of yardage but over his last three games he hasn't registered a run longer than 8 yards. Tough matchups (the Jets, Chiefs and at the Seahawks) have played an obvious role along with a lack of work (37 carries total over those games) and an offensive line that hasn't delivered to expectations. It all adds up to a disappointing start.
It doesn't mean he'll finish badly -- in fact, if history is any indication, he's about to pick up the slack. In 2011 he averaged 11.4 Fantasy points per game over his final 10 with six games over 10 Fantasy points. In 2012 he averaged 12.8 Fantasy points per game over his final 10 with seven games over 10 Fantasy points. All but one of the 10 touchdowns he had in those two years came in the final 10 games.
His remaining schedule is favorable. Save for a home matchup vs. the Niners this week and a bye next week, owners could conceivably start Johnson without concern the rest of the way. The Titans have two games against the Jaguars, two against the Colts, road games against the Rams, Raiders and Broncos (the Raiders are actually the stingiest of those three in allowing Fantasy points to running backs and they're not that good). A home game vs. Houston is tucked into Week 17. Only a home game vs. the Cardinals in Week 15 stands out as a risky matchup for Johnson following the bye.
If you're desperate for rushing help the time has come to try and swing a deal for Johnson. The person who has him in your league is very likely frustrated with him and would accept anything resembling a fair deal for him. Give it to him or her. I think Johnson is the perfect guy to trade for if you're sitting at 2-4 or 3-3 and desperate for a boost for the playoff run.
Here are some actual trades involving Johnson in CBSSports.com leagues:
Chris Johnson for Alex Smith: I get this trade if it's a two-quarterback league, but otherwise there's no way someone should sell that low on Johnson. But this is happening -- people are annoyed by Johnson's lack of productivity and are taking what they can get. They don't realize what could be around the corner.
Chris Johnson for Andre Ellington and Denarius Moore: This is the kind of deal a Johnson owner is looking for. In exchange for the disappointing rusher they get a promising sleeper in Ellington and a hot-for-now receiver in Moore. This might even be a bit too much for Johnson but it's affordable enough.
Chris Johnson and Jordan Cameron for Darren McFadden and Rob Gronkowski: This is another even deal though if I'm the owner getting Gronkowski, I better have a good record and a good tight end on my bench ready to use until his eventual return.
Chris Johnson and Eric Decker for Marques Colston and Zac Stacy: Another example of giving up on Johnson, and doing so without doing your homework! Colston has struggled this season and Stacy -- while impressive in two starts -- isn't exactly delivering massive Fantasy stats. The Rams' upcoming schedule is also a problem. Expect better than this.
Our Trade Value Chart is designed to assist you in making fair trades in your standard-scoring or PPR league. The values assigned to the players below are a long-term measurement of their Fantasy value. By adding two players' values you could determine what one player you might be able to get in return. This list should also work as a "Rest of Season" Rankings.