Has Chris Johnson hit the wall?
That’s the million-dollar question. After tearing up the league in his first eight games with 879 total yards (715 rushing, 164 receiving) and 6 TDs (5 rushing) Johnson figuratively ran into a wall in Week 10 when he faced the Bears. They held him to 8 yards on 14 carries with an additional 15 yards on two receptions. He followed that dismal performance up with a mediocre 64 yards on 17 carries with 24 yards on four catches vs. Jacksonville. Prior to those games he had only been held below 74 rushing yards once, but he scored 2 TDs that game.
Will the slump continue? Yes and No. He will likely struggle this week when he faces a fierce Jets Run D. They are fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed at 81.3 yards with an average of 3.4 yards per carry. Additionally, they have only allowed seven rushing TDs. The NFL is a copycat league and the Titans have been pressed the most the past couple of weeks when their ground game was limited. Their opponents have been trying to take away the Titans’ rushing attack, forcing Kerry Collins to beat them with his arm. It is no coincidence Collins’ best performances have come as Johnson has struggled. Collins recent strong play will garner the Jets’ attention, but their game plan will be to stop Johnson and LenDale White.
The road gets much smoother the next three weeks for Johnson and the Titans. He goes against Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston. Detroit has surpassed Kansas City as the worst run D at 171.5 yards per game, and have allowed 17 rushing TDs. Cleveland (145.2 ypg prior to Monday Night’s contest against Buffalo) and Houston (132.5 ypg) are in the bottom quarter of the league in Run D. So Johnson should get his mojo back heading into the Fantasy Super Bowl (Week 16). He does face a stiff matchup that week against the Steelers (first in the league with 68.9 ypg) so you might want to have an alternative for the biggest game of the year. If you are in a league that plays all 17 weeks, Johnson finishes up with a nice matchup with Indianapolis (138.5 ypg).
To answer the question, I do not think he hit a wall. Teams have altered their defensive scheme in an attempt to slow the rushing attack to hand the Titans their first loss. Like any good team the Titans have adjusted. Johnson has two more games in which he could struggle, but he has four games left against teams who just don’t have the personnel to slow him down. Look for Johnson to keep on churning.