Does Chris Johnson Still Have Fantasy Value?

Jul 17, 2014 6:00 AM EST

Chris Johnson went from unanimous fantasy all-star to, uh, some other guy. He used to be a lock as a Top Five pick, but now he's often not found in the Top 20 running backs.  He finished as the No. 8 running back in standard fantasy leagues last year (surprised?), but a lot of those numbers came from big plays by one of the NFL's fastest. He signed with the Jets in the offseason and should compete with a minimum of Chris Ivory for carries. How much value does the man formally known as CJ2K really have left?

Well, we all know Johnson is a game-breaker. There is a certain level of excitement that comes from seeing Chris Johnson on your fantasy roster. You know that, at any second, you could see "Chris Johnson runs for a 75-yard touchdown" because that's just how he is. Johnson isn't really a threat after contact, however. Eric Decker is also a new member of the Jets, which could open up the field a little bit for Johnson to get out in space.

Come opening day, I do expect Johnson to start over Ivory. Ivory should get most of the goal-line work, however, so Johnson's TD totals will likely take a hit. Johnson is also fairly effective in the passing game (42 catches and four receiving TDs last year), and Geno Smith strikes me as a quarterback who will (and should) check down to his running backs often. Expect Johnson to assume a role similar to Bilal Powell last year but with more talent.'s Senior Analyst Jake Ciely currently has Johnson ranked as the 23rd running back as of his most recent rankings. I think 25th is around the floor for Johnson, or the lowest ranking that Johnson should finish in 2014. If Johnson earns the majority of the carries, I could see that ranking going up to about 15th. Johnson is a very tricky player to analyze and, for that matter, draft. He is often inconsistent, but always has the ability to have huge games even with a less-than-average amount of touches. Drafting Johnson really depends on whether or not you have room for a make-or-break player on your roster. If after four or five rounds you find yourself confident in your players' ability to produce consistently each week, then maybe take a chance on Johnson and hope he returns to form. If your roster thus far consists of make-or-break players themselves (e.g. Cam Newton, Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson), then Johnson is probably best to avoid.