CJ2Dumb And The Wrath Of Sean
Photo By: Don McPeak / US PRESSWIRE
Please Note – To truly appreciate this article please first read, “Yeah, I Want Cheesy Poofs! – How I’ve Missed You Arian Foster.”
For someone who runs their own fantasy football blog and has played this crazy game for over 20 years, you would think I was past acting like a child when things didn’t go my way. Usually true, and while I thought I’d seen it all by the start of last year, one Chris Johnson set the frustration bar at an all-time high.
Truthfully, while Johnson was flipping horrible, a decent part of the frustration comes from the fact that I passed on Arian Foster for him.
Anyway, with the first pick in the draft and Foster battling a hamstring injury coupled with possible maturity issues, my Dad (nickname Reddog) and I decided to go with Johnson, who was fresh off his holdout.
I know what your saying, “you were asking for it, never take a player coming off a long holdout.”
True, but then again, this was a lockout shortened offseason and it’s debatable that all the players around the league would be subject to conditioning problems in this unique season.
On With the Season
Well as we know things started out horribly slow for Johnson, but that was understandable because he did have little time to work in training camp. Our reasoning for selecting him had more to do with his weak run schedule down the stretch, and that Adrian Peterson tends to struggle in December.
As mid-season rolled around, I figured Johnson would be getting into form for a second half run and expected him to start showing life after the teams week six bye.
Panic Is The Order Of The Day
While I was clearly disappointed with Johnson’s performance week seven against the Texans as he posted ten carries for 18 yards, it wasn’t until I saw the film breakdown that I was truly concerned. Last season I started watching Game Rewind from NFL.com and while I still have a long way to go to have a solid grasp of what I’m watching, it was clear Johnson still had a lack of burst and especially fell short on effort.
Then it got worse as Brian Baldinger of NFL Playbook broke down a couple plays from the game with All-22 film and I could actually see the full field. It had to be the first play (link below) that came as a complete shock to me, as I still can’t understand why a burner like Johnson wouldn’t at least try to bounce to the outside with no one to beat except safety Daniel Manning.
Effort was more of an issue than I had realized and while many fantasy owners would chalk up his struggles to off-season conditioning, in my heart I now felt otherwise.
After showing this same film above to Reddog, it was clear that our confidence in Johnson turning things around was shaken, no matter if he had an easy run schedule coming. The final test was the following week against the Colts; if he couldn’t turn it around then, it was going to be hard to keep him in the lineup or on our team for that matter.
Things weren’t much better and by the fourth-quarter Johnson was benched in favor of Javon Ringer. The film breakdown was still uncomplimentary as Baldinger, questioned if Johnson was the right running back to start on this team.
At that point, it was past time to explore trade options, but we looked around and my Uncle Mike (team name Canucks, nicknames Can Cluck, Can Uck), was open to a deal sending Ahmad Bradshaw to us. Keep in mind the previous Sunday Bradshaw left the field early because of a foot injury.
While the Giants were saying his foot was a little sore, and he might be questionable for the up-coming game, we were open to making a move. At this point, Reddog was so frustrated with Johnson lack of effort that he wanted him gone. I did as well, but wanted to see Bradshaw practice first.
Well, I ended up agreeing with Reddog on Wednesday night to make the move even though Bradshaw was a little nicked up and the deal was done.
From Bad To Worse To Flat Out Ridiculous
Waking up on Thursday morning, I was happy at least Johnson was behind us and we could get on with the rest of the season. Oh how wrong I was, as that morning the Giants reported that Bradshaw’s issue was more than soreness and that he had a cracked bone in his foot, that could finish his season.
My Uncle Mike said that if Bradshaw was announced to be done for the year by Friday he would redo the deal and while that was generous, I figured it was unlikely because the Giants would want to see if he got better for a playoff run.
Then, on Saturday news broke out that the Titans were rumored to be considering releasing Johnson in March if he didn’t get things going.
Now maybe this really went down or maybe it didn’t, but I find it interesting that the first game after this rumor Johnson started playing with a greater sense of urgency.
This really pissed me off because I figured the only thing he played for was the money and not for any real love of the game. Maybe that’s harsh to accuse him of but I’m not really sure what else to call it.
Leaving The League And Then Coming Back
For a day or two I actually came unglued, accusing my Uncle of foul play on the chat line, and ripping Reddog for wanting to make the move for Bradshaw so soon. Immature? Absolutely, and I’m ashamed and surprised that I let my emotions go that far over a freaking fantasy team!
Watching this unfold was all to much for me to handle so I told Reddog to run the team and I was stepping away for awhile. After a couple of weeks, I came back and we managed to make the playoffs. Ironically the final week of the regular season, the last playoff spot came down to us and my Uncle Mike.
Maybe it was karma, but in that final week Johnson did nothing against the Saints and we sealed the victory over him by using his beloved Seahawks defense as they shutdown the Rams on Monday night football.
Looking Back On It All
By seasons end I had to apologies to Reddog for having some heated words in the middle of the year. Unprofessional for sure but there just seems to be something about playing in a league with family and long time rivals that brings out the best or the worst in me.
Would I draft Johnson again? Actually, I would because in my mind a talented player can always bounce back, but I can promise you it will never be in the first round again. No, after watching Johnson’s lack of effort, before his contract was supposedly dangled in his face, I can’t say he won’t go the way of others like Randy Moss and shutdown at some point in his career once more.
Will he do it in 2012? I sure hope not because his ADP seems to have him still going in the middle of the first round despite all the struggles he had a year ago. I’m willing to believe his upside will be good enough to be in the top ten runners this year, but you won’t find him that high in my rankings.
What does concern me is that for the past three seasons (even in his 2,000 yard campaign) he’s been an inconsistent weekly runner without Vince Young as his quarterback. While Jake Locker presents some problems with his legs, he’s not the dynamic weapon on the ground that Young had the potential to be.
Will teams use a spy on Locker for his running ability? Likely not the case, and that means an extra defensive player for Johnson to worry about.
Besides, look at the Titans recent drafting of Kendall Wright and it clear to see this team envisions the future of the offense as a passing team. If Johnson is ever to be a top five stud again, it will have to come with around 75 receptions a season. It could happen, but I will believe it when I see it, and even then I don’t trust him, because of previous effort issues.
Needless to say, Johnson is by far the most frustrating player I’ve ever had and ever will have for that matter. Throw the issues I’ve had with Foster into the mix, and the fact that he went off after he recovered from his hamstring, and it doesn’t get any worse.
Perhaps that’s what you have to respect about fantasy football, it always keeps you guessing and even over 20 years of playing this game, I’m fascinated by the good and bad things I learn every year, and how I react to them.