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Chris Johnson To See Less Carries in 2010? | NFL Fantasy Football Rankings

Tennessee Titans v Seattle Seahawks

The 2009 fantasy football season watched a few second year backs fall on their face. Players like Matt Forte and Steve Slaton both had bust seasons and will see their fantasy value drop because of it. While these runners failed to live up to expectations, Titans running back Chris Johnson became the most valuable football player in all of fantasy, in his second year. For the season, Johnson totaled 2,509 all purpose yards (NFL record) and 16 touchdowns. This was a fabulous season and will no doubt make this running back the clear top pick in just about every fantasy football draft for 2010.

A Price To Pay

Last summer, one of the hot topics in fantasy was if Falcons running back Michael Turner would touch the football less because of his big work load in 2008. Turner rushed the football 376 times in ’08, but he only had six receptions in the passing game. This gave Turner 382 touches (Adrian Peterson had 384) for the year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons

A high work load made the Falcons coaching staff concerned about over using their star runner for fear that they might cut his career short. In the end, Turner suffered an ankle injury in week ten and failed to make a full recovery, missing most of the second half of the fantasy season. I don’t believe Turner’s injury had anything to do with his workload from ’08, but he did have a rather slow start to the season. At times, Turner actually looked much slower than he did just the year before. While Turner touched the football 382 times in the ’08 season, Johnson touched the football 408 (358 carries, 50 receptions) total times. If fantasy owners were concerned about Turner coming into 2009, shouldn’t they be concerned about Johnson for 2010?

A Lesson From Eddie George

In the past, I’ve knocked Titans’ head coach Jeff Fisher for being a coach that runs his tail backs into early retirement. In 2001, Titans star running back Eddie George suffered a foot injury at the Pro Bowl and was hobbled for a decent amount of the offseason. George touched the football a ridiculous 453 times in the 2000 season and coming off a foot problem, touched the football 352 times in 2001.

Titans v Texans

After those two season George came back in 2002 only to touch the football another 379 times and that was his last truly productive fantasy season in the NFL.

2002 was George’s seventh year in the NFL, and he went on to play two more years but clearly wasn’t the same player.

While George’s career was cut short, it looks like coach Fisher is ready to learn from his mistake of over using George and not repeating that with Johnson.

At this time, the team is exploring ways of how to utilize Johnson more in the passing game and use him less in the running game. More touches out of the backfield would limit the amount of hits Johnson would take from defensive linemen.

Fantasy Football Impact

I wouldn’t be surprised if 2009 was the greatest season in Johnson’s NFL career. From a yardage stand point, no running back has ever totaled the amount of scrimmage yards Johnson had in ’09 and it could be awhile before someone breaks that record.

Expect Johnson’s fantasy production to be down from last year but that doesn’t mean he’s not the clear top player in fantasy football. This young running back is the most explosive player in the NFL and can lead your fantasy team to victories and a championship.

As long as the Titans have a good offeseason in free agency and the draft, I fully expect this team to make a run at the playoffs in 2010. This means that Johnson should produce well for your team all year long.

Some day, down the line, Johnson will lose a bit of his speed and explosion as all players do, but ’10 is not the year.

NFL Fantasy Football Player Rankings writer Sean E. Douglas:

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