.
We are finally beginning to see some signs that the owners and the players will come to some sort of a resolution in the near future. NFL and fantasy football fans have to be tickled pink about the potential lifting of the lockout.
.
Well for Tennessee Titans fans and Chris Johnson fantasy owners, the days of worrying could just keep on rolling. Chris Johnson is once again threatening to lock out if he doesn’t get a long term deal. He has stated that he won’t take a short-term fix like last year. He wants to get paid like the elite back that he is, and is will to sit out if the Titans don’t open up their checkbooks.
.
You know what? He’s right. He is one of the best players in the league and he should be paid as such. He has averaged over 1500 rushing yards in his three seasons to go along with over 300 receiving yards per year and 12 total touchdowns. It’s not like his CJ2K season was his only productive one. He has double-digit touchdowns in all three years and at least 1488 total yards.
.
Losing a talent like that, especially without a capable backup and a rookie quarterback would be a disaster. The Titans might as well start printing their logos on brown paper bags for their fans.
.
I don’t think it will get to that point. Jake Locker won’t be getting paid like previous first round picks. That is an issue that will be settled when an agreement is reached. There will be more revenue from the additional Thursday night games. I think there will be some wiggle room that will allow the Titans to take care of their best player. If he were 28 or 29 they may be hesitant, but he’ll only be 26 when and if the season starts. Johnson will get a nice signing bonus and a long-term deal that he probably won’t see the end of.
.
Bottom line is he’ll get paid and get the love he’s looking for from the organization, so  he’ll be happy. The team will get the revenue from jersey sales, tickets, etc. so they will be happy. Most importantly Titans fans and fantasy football owners will be happy that they can focus on football and not financials.
.
.
Also check out:


.
Obviously the state of the NFL is in complete turmoil. Will there be a season? Hard to say, but we have to still prepare like there will be one. We continue our series of analyzing the number one pick in 2011 fantasy football drafts with Tennessee’s Chris Johnson.
.
Calling Chris Johnson’s 2010 season a disappointment doesn’t give enough credit to the 1609 total yards (1364 rushing, 245 receiving) he amassed or the 12 touchdowns (11 rushing) he scored. Those are unbelievable numbers. They are along the lines of the 1488 total yards (1228 rushing, 260 receiving) and ten touchdowns (nine rushing) he posted as a rookie. However, when you compare them to the 2509 total yards (2006 rushing, 503 receiving) and 16 touchdowns (14 rushing) he posted in 2010 or the 2500 rushing yards he spoke of heading into last year, and I can see where you were a little let down.
.
The Titans were a mess last year. So much so that both Vince Young and Jeff Fisher were sent packing. With order presumably restored, Chris Johnson and the Titans look to get back on track. They’ll need to figure out the quarterback situation, but it’s hard to imagine it being any worse than last year. Especially with Kenny Britt developing into a big game receiver. Defenses won’t simply be able to stuff the box on CJ2K.
.
What I like about taking Johnson first is that he produced the monster year like Arian Foster did last year, has the explosiveness of Jamaal Charles, and the track record of Adrian Peterson. In three years he’s averaging 1868.7 total yards and 12.7 touchdowns. He has 24 100 yard games. He is tied with Rondel Melendez for the fastest 40 time in NFL Combine history. He has had at least 43 catches in each of his first three years, making him even more valuable in PPR leagues.
.
If 1609 total yards and 12 touchdowns is a down year, then what could he do if he bounces back? Personally I would love to have the third pick in fantasy drafts. With Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, and Chris Johnson, how can you go wrong? Depending on the Titans’ quarterback situation next year, I would have a hard time not selecting CJ2K number one in 2011 fantasy football drafts.
.
.
Also check out:


.
The fantasy playoffs are underway in the majority of leagues as the Colts and Titans kicked off the action last night.
.
Having players go in the Thursday night games gives you a little bit of advantage. If your players do good, you can perhaps be a little more cautions with your team. If your players failed to put up good numbers, perhaps you will want to take a bigger risk, hoping for a bigger reward to make up for it. You also get a feel for your match-up depending on how your opponents players did. Let’s take a look at how fantasy owners will be feeling about their players.
.
Quarterbacks:   If you started Peyton Manning (319 yards, two TDs), which is roughly 99.9 percent of his owners, you are off to a great start. You can’t ask for much more than 300+ and a pair of scores without a pick. If you went with Kerry Collins (244 yards, three TDs) I want proof. Seriously though, heck of a call. You can’t be happier with your results.
.
Running Backs: If you went with Chris Johnson (179 total yards, TD), which also is virtually everybody who owns him, you are off and running (pun intended). He came in with a juicy match-up, and he shrugged off his recent slump and delivered when you needed it the most. It does help to have a competent QB. If you rode the Javarris James (49 yards, TD) train, kudos to you. Donald Brown (62 total yards) had just enough total yardage to keep him from being a bust if he was in your lineup. continue reading »


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

Let the debates begin. Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson…who is the number one pick in fantasy football? The Titans and Chris Johnson have agreed to rework Johnson’s contract to give him a little extra incentive to report to camp. ESPN is calling it a short-term fix to quell the holdout threat. They will continue to work on a long-term deal.

 

Johnson had 2509 total yards (2006 rushing) and 16 TDs (14 rushing). Peterson, who is largely viewed as the #2 fantasy player (though I actually have AP ranked #1) had 1819 total yards (1383 rushing) and 18 TDs (all rushing). I just feel Johnson will be utilized less after his heavy workload and Peterson will be utilized more in 2010.

 

Either way, Chris Johnson is one of the top fantasy options and I’m glad that we won’t have to worry about a holdout. Keeper league owners should be celebrating in the streets.

You can’t truly evaluate the Titans until you know what is going to happen with Chris Johnson. That said, like the Titans the show must go on with or without him.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
The Titans tackle the Colts and Texans at home in Weeks 14 and 15, followed by a road match-up against Kansas City. You have to love the fantasy championship match-up (assuming Chris Johnson plays).

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
Chris Johnson – I actually assume that he’s going to miss some camp at the very least with the holdout, which will have a negative impact on the season. I can’t, in good faith, give him anything short of a five star rating as long as there is the possibility that he’ll play. That’s how good he is.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Vince Young – As long as he doesn’t make any more dumb decisions off the field, I think he should have a solid season on the field. I expect him to contribute more in the rushing game than last year, particularly around the goal line. If he can limit the mistakes in the passing game, he could be a decent spot starter and backup fantasy QB.

 

Titans Defense/Secondary – To say the Titans were ravaged by injuries on defesnse last year would be putting it mildly. If they can stay healthy, along with the addition of Derrick Morgan, the Titans should be much-improved on defense.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Javon Ringer – If Chris Johnson does sit out, Ringer could move up a star. It would be a RBBC though to replace the premier RB in the league. If Johnson plays, you can push Ringer down to a one star. I expect he’ll get less touches than last year, but I don’t see anyone taking significant carries from Johnson.

 

Kenny Britt, Justin Gage & Nate Washington – This is a run first team with a QB with questionable accuracy so it’s hard to bank on the WRs. Britt is the one with the most potential. He has good size and speed, and had flashes last year. Washington is the best deep threat and Gage will likely play the slot position.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
LeGarrette Blount – Blount only has value if Johnson holds out.

 

Damian Williams – He’s probably a year or two from being relevant for fantasy teams, but is someone to mention in case of injury to one of the top three WRs.

 

Bo Scaife and Jared Cook – Scaife is the Titan TE to own, but he is limited by Cook’s presence and his inability to score TDs.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

 

Chris Johnson said yesterday that despite skipping offseason workouts he doesn’t have a problem with the Titans. Of course, today he tweets “Just got off the phn w/ my agent & its not gd news I’m feeling lk @Revis24 rt now at least dey offering him something dey not offering me nothing”. That doesn’t sound like  somebody without some animosity. This situation could get ugly if it drags on.

 


Marshawn Lynch attended his first offseason workout today for the Buffalo Bills. Lynch is third on the depth chart at this point behind Fred Jackson and rookie C.J. Spiller. The odds of a trade, perhaps to Seattle, remain high at this point.

 


Pierre signed his one-year tender yesterday. A long-term deal is in negotiations. With Mike Bell in Philly, PT could put up some serious fantasy numbers without costing you too high of a draft pick. Of course, he’ll have to stay healthy.

 

Finally, Ryan Moats signed with the Vikings. He gives the Vikings a veteran presence following Chester Taylor’s departure. He’ll compete for backup duty with Albert Young (12 career carries), Ian Johnson (practice squad last year), and rookie Tobey Gerhart.

 

Photos courtesy of Icon SMI

 

If Chris Johnson is one of your fantasy football keepers, you may want to cross your fingers that a deal gets done soon. The last thing you want for the #1 player in fantasy football is for a stalemate to ensue. A holdout could put a major damper on his chances to repeat as the number one fantasy back.

 

I actually had him slated as the number two fantasy back simply because I expect a lighter workload in 2010 for Johnson. I also think defenses will come up with better game plans to slow him down a bit.

 

If he misses any portion of training camp, I may have to bump him down a few notches, especially after the news that Michael Turner is in excellent shape. The NFL Odds that a running back sustains an injury increases when he doesn’t get the proper conditioning heading into the season. When you rely on your speed as much as Johnson does, the likelihood of a hamstring injury is even greater.

 

So should you think about trading Johnson? I wouldn’t necessarily go that far. Not unless you get one of those Godfather type offers that you just can’t refuse. He’s young, and elite talent, and plays for an NFL team that should continue to improve in the years to come. So don’t panic now, but this is situation to monitor throughout the summer.

 

Image courtesy of Icon SMI

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week.  Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers - You have to play him because he’s taking on St. Louis, but there is a good chance that this game gets out of hand early and the Pack let Ryan Grant handle the heavy lifting.

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans - Johnson has a tough matchup this week playing the Jets on the road.  You can’t bench your first-round pick in Week 3, especially after his monster performance against the Texans, but expect something closer to his Week 1 numbers.

Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions - It seems like I’m picking on the second-year backs in the early going.  I’ll pile on with Kevin Smith.  I don’t like his matchup against Washington.  If he’s not active in the passing game, it will be a long day for his fantasy owners.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs - Bowe faces the Eagles this week.  That ought to be a lot of fun, especially after they got crushed by the Saints.  You almost have to play him, but don’t pencil him in for too many points.

Chad Ochocinco, WR, Cincinnati Bengals - Ocho gets to go up against the Steelers this week.  It’s a home game for the Bengals, but still a tough draw.  Carson Palmer will have his hands full.  Ocho and Palmer were both impressive against Green Bay, but the Steelers are going to be fired up after falling to the Bears.

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week.  Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Quarterback
Matt Schaub
- Schaub opens the season at home against the New York Jets, who look to have much improved defense under Rex Ryan.  The Jets are going to put a lot of pressure on the Texans.  Schaub is dealing with a sprained ankle, and with his injury history, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were knocked out of the game.

Running Backs
Chris Johnson 
- I know it’s tough to bench your #1 pick, but Johnson will have his work cut out for him facing the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Steelers should be fired up to defend their title at home.  Johnson had a nice game against the Steelers at home last year (16 carries for 69 yards, TD), but playing in Pittsburgh is a different story.

Darren McFadden - Many are expecting Run DMC to make a big step forward in 2009.  While I agree with them, I don’t see it happening this week.  The Chargers’ defense was awful last year.  They want to make a statement to the NFL that they’re back.  The Chargers offense is so high-powered that the Raiders will likely being playing from behind, limiting the opportunities for McFadden to showcase his talents.  Finally, it’s not clear how the Raiders are going to split up their carries.  I’d look elsewhere for my RB2.

Wide Receiver
Dwayne Bowe
- Kansas City is a mess.  Facing Baltimore is no way for Todd Haley to get off to a fast start.  Bowe will get plenty of Raven attention, and with either a injured Cassel or a backup QB under Center, I just don’t like Bowe’s prospects.

Braylon Edwards - Braylon is a guy that I expect to bounce back in 2009, but whoever wins the starting gig is going to be under heavy pressure.  If Edwards still has a problem holding on to the football, it could be a long game for the former Wolverine.

Frank Gore running
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Frank Gore is one of those guys I’ll likely never own.  Not that I dislike him, but usually someone is willing to take him before I am willing to pull the trigger on him.  He had a solid year last year, but 1409 total yards (1036 rushing, 373 receiving) and 8 TDs don’t quite add up for a guy taken in the top seven or so.  Of course he did miss two games, but I won’t give him a pardon since they were during the fantasy playoffs in Weeks 15 & 16.  He is still worthy of first round pick, particularly in PPR leagues as he 52.3 receptions the past three years (although it’s declined each year).  The Niners did draft Glen Coffee (Alabama) in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft.  It’s a same assumption that he will shoulder some of the load.  Couple that with a QB battle between Shaun Hill and Alex Smith and I just as soon take one of the big WRs (Fitz or Andre Johnson) or Clinton Portis if he’s available at the bottom of the first round.

The Niners have a decent schedule.  They open the season and the fantasy playoffs (Week 14) with Arizona.  They face the Rams in Week 4.  Unfortunately they face them again Week 17 when it doesn’t matter to most fantasy owners.  Their fantasy playoff schedule is solid with the aforementioned tilt with Arizona, a clash with Philly in Week 15, and the Detroit Lions in the fantasy football championship game.  You have to love that.  Of course, if he misses the title game like last year, it’s a moot point. 

Like I said Gore will be taken in the first round in most drafts.  If he stays healthy he should earn his keep.  I’m projecting him to have 1600 total yards and 7 TDs.


Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties