I remember this Chris Johnson. This is the Chris Johnson who could take any run or reception to the house in a blink of the eye (a very slow eye-blink, but still a blink). This week he broke out for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. That is vintage 2009 CJ2K. And the two vultured touchdowns by Jamie Harper are vintage 2008, but he got into the end zone twice, which hasn’t happened for a while. Of course he was playing the Buffalo Bills, whose run defense is just profoundly awful. But where are we here? The Bills are the worst run defense in the league without question, but does that negate what Johnson did? Well, to some extent it has to. If I beat my 8th grade nephew 20 to 2 in a game of one-on-one, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to take on Chris Paul, but we also have seen some life out of Johnson lately.
In the last four weeks he’s run 77 times for 451 yards for 5.9 yards per carry. The problem with Johnson is he never really looked like he was running all that hard. He just glided past defenders like they were in slow motion. But recently, or as I like to call it, his putrid period, he was no longer getting by people and would go down with the flick of a finger. The reasons for this are surely many. His new contract, his holdout, post-2k syndrome, desire, line play, and so on and so forth.
So what does this nice stretch of games tell us? Well, look back to last season at a nice four games from week 10 through 13 and you’ll see where he rushed 85 times for 486 yards for 5.7 yards per carry. And the last game of that period he ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns against none other than the Buffalo Bills. His next game he rushed 11 times for 23 yards against the Saints.
Will history repeat itself? Most likely not, since he faces the almost as bad as the Bills run defense of the Indianapolis Colts, but then he gets Chicago and Miami, where history may rear its ugly head. He still has skills, there is absolutely no doubt about that, but I can’t trust him to be consistent and if you can trade him for someone who is, go for it.
Adrian Peterson – So Adrian Peterson is pretty good at football. His day against the Cardinals was his best on the season with 153 yards rushing and a touchdown, his first since week one, but he’s looked that good all year. It’s still amazing to see just how hard and well he’s running, so soon after blowing his knee out, but he’s a freak of nature.
Robert Griffin III – With 113 completions in 189 attempts, RGIII leads the league in completion percentage at 70.4%. This comes with his best wide receiver and tight end both getting injured. This week against the Giants he showed both his passing and rushing prowess and he went 20 for 28 for 258 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 89 yards on nine attempts. These are the stats of a great quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers completed 30 of 37 passes for an amazing 81% completion percentage on his way to 342 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t reach quite that efficiency last season in any one game. There is no doubt he is the same fantasy juggernaut he’s always been.
Randall Cobb/Jordy Nelson – This week Cobb and Nelson were the beneficiaries of Rodgers accuracy and in many ways the addition of Cobb makes this offense even better than last season. Jennings is a very good receiver, but Cobb at his best, can play everywhere on the field, even at tailback, and be a nightmare for defensive coordinators as he was on Sunday when he totaled 108 yards and two touchdowns. In the last three games he has caught 19 of 22 targets for 273 yards and three touchdowns.
And Nelson looks every bit the number one receiver that he is. The speed, routes, hands, coupled with Rodgers makes for a deadly combo. In the last two games, he has had 21 targets, and caught 17 for 243 yards and four touchdowns.
Victor Cruz – Cruz is relentless in his production. This season he is tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns with seven, fourth in total yards with 627, third in receptions with 50 and just had the game winning 77 yard touchdown reception against the Redskins. So that’s not all that shabby for an undrafted free agent.
C.J. Spiller/Fred Jackson – Fred Spiller gained 222 total yards against the Titans in week seven and also found the end zone. This guy is the best running back in the league by far. Wait, those are two guys? Oh, whoops. And they split touches evenly? I see. Spiller is the more explosive back, but Jackson is also a top player? And together they make one great back, but separately they are just two very good fantasy backs? Well, that’s kind of sad.
Arian Foster – Foster is a connoisseur of touchdowns. He collects and savors them each week. Even when he had 17 attempts for 29 yards last week, he collected two touchdowns during his travels in the red zone. This week he also unearthed two more touchdowns, which puts him at nine rushing and one receiving touchdown for the season. He leads the league in touchdowns and is on pace for 22. You drafted him number one for a reason.
Alfred Morris -- He didn’t have a huge fantasy day because he didn’t get into the end zone, but he did have his third 100 yard rushing game out of his last four, going for 120 yards on 22 carries. That puts him at 658 rushing yards on the season, just one yard behind Arian Foster for the league lead.
Josh Freeman/Vincent Jackson – Most of the time, when the matchup is as good as the Buccaneers had with the Saints, the outcome is underwhelming. This time, it met and exceeded expectations. Freeman threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns, with 216 yards and one touchdown going to Vincent Jackson. That’s back-to-back huge games for Freeman and five touchdowns for Jackson in his last five games. They aren’t as good as these numbers, but with good matchups, as you can see, they can break through their ceiling.
Drew Brees – Drew Brees had 313 yards and four touchdowns. That’s an insanely productive game, especially since he had that line at halftime! Unfortunately that might have gotten his fantasy owners a little too excited for a 600 yard eight touchdown game, but he only added 64 passing yards in the second half. A tale of two halves to be sure, but the total numbers still constitute a happy ending for his fantasy owners.
Doug Martin – Martin totaled 122 yards and a touchdown on 19 touches against the Saints. After a slow start, he has rushed for 194 yards on 37 carries in the last three games for a 5.2 per carry average and has seven receptions for 101 yards. After LeGarrette Blount’s poor performance this week, hopefully he’ll win the goal line carries back as well.
Jonathan Dwyer – Coming into the Sunday night game Dwyer was traveling along at a 24 attempts for 74 yards pace, which put him at an unhealthy 2.9 yards per carry. So naturally he runs 17 times for 122 yards against the Bengals. He ran some guys over and hit some well blocked holes with authority, especially in the fourth quarter as the Steelers man-handled the Bengals, but since this isn’t what the Steelers are anymore, you just can’t expect smash mouth running like this all that often.
LaRod Stephens-Howling - After carrying the ball 11 times for 22 yards against the Buffalo Bills porous run defense, it would have been insanity to use him in fantasy against Minnesota, one of the top run defenses in the league. So of course he totals 149 yards and a touchdown against them. He’s always shown elusiveness, but he’s a tiny fella at 5’7” 185 pounds and in no way fits the every down back mold. William Powell fumbled early in the game, which gave him his opportunity. So we’ll see how it goes from here, but they face the 49ers next, which is a scary proposition.
Rob Gronkowski – Gronk had gone a whole two games without a touchdown, so he had to make up for it with two touchdowns today. I didn’t know Gronk was that adept at math. This guy isn’t slowing down anytime soon it seems. He already has 32 touchdowns in his first 39 games. Randy Moss had 35 in his first 39.