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Should You Start Calvin Johnson?

Calvin Johnson was hyped as the next great playmaking receiver when he camp out of college, and at times he’s shown that ability for the Lions. For all the talent Johnson has, it is health for both, himself and his quarterbacks that have hurt his fantasy numbers thus far.

Last season Johnson was plagued by various injuries and in week one of the 2010 season his quarterback Matthew Stafford injured his throwing shoulder. While it is still unknown how long Stafford will be out, we do know he won’t be back for at least a few weeks.

In that time fantasy owners must decide if Johnson is worth starting with the limp armed Shaun Hill under center.

Positives For Starting Johnson

Johnson’s best season in the NFL came in 2008 and that year he had a revolving door at quarterback. The Lions failed to win a game but Johnson still managed to post over 1,300 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.

Not only did Johnson have one of the best fantasy seasons for a receiver, but he produced on a consistent basis. This is important to note as just last week Johnson would have posted close to 80 yards and a touchdown if his score would have counted in Chicago. All of Johnson’s production against the Bears came with Hill under center as he didn’t have a catch in the first half with Stafford throwing.

Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson walks off the field after the Chicago Bears intercepted the ball during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Chicago, September 12, 2010. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Concern’s For Starting Johnson

I would tend to agree with those annalists that say Johnson isn’t as well polished a receiver as options like Larry Fitzgerald or Brandon Marshall. Those receivers are better route runners and don’t need to rely on the deep ball as much.

Still, Johnson has shown he can be effective with undesirable options throwing the football.

Fantasy Outlook

Unless you have a great option as depth for your squad, I would continue using Johnson with confidence. The fact that he produced well in 2008 and had a solid second half last week should let you know he can produce without Stafford.

My biggest concern for Johnson’s fantasy production is more so if  Johnson himself is injured. In Johnson’s rookie year, he had a back injury and had problems producing. Last season he suffered a knee injury and struggled to get back on the field, playing at a high level.

As long as Johnson is healthy he should still be a productive fantasy option this season, even when Stafford isn’t on the field.

More 2010 NFL Fantasy Football Player Rankings

Waiver Wire Pickups | Weekly Player Rankings | Start’em – Sit’em Lineup Advice | FF Injury Status Reports

NFL fantasy football player rankings writer Sean E. Douglas:

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