For now, the news that Tennessee RB Chris Johnson wants to break up the “Smash and Dash” partnership with LenDale White so he can adopt the nickname “Every Coach’s Dream” is nothing more than an amusing diversion. It won’t be so funny later this year, when Johnson becomes every fantasy owner’s nightmare.
Personally, Johnson’s focus on himself bodes well for my prediction in the NFL.com Fantasy preview magazine. Despite the fact that Johnson rushed for 1,228 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie last season, he was my pick in the magazine to be the biggest potential fantasy disappointment in 2009.
Johnson’s big-play ability and solid rookie performance has made him a consensus top 10 fantasy draft pick. NFL.com’s own Michael Fabiano took him with the sixth overall pick in our experts’ mock draft in the magazine. FYI, I drafted Houston RB Steve Slaton six picks later, and I am confident Slaton puts up better fantasy numbers than Johnson.
Picking Johnson as a potential disappointment was based in part on the idea that things can’t get much better for him. He’s still got White taking away carries at the goal line, and the Titans have not improved the receiving corps enough to keep defenses honest. Back in April, Johnson indicated he was going to skip the team’s voluntary offseason workouts. He did end up attending, but the idea that a second-year guy who could be a big star even considered opting out of these workouts is worrisome to me.
First of all, if he were every coach’s dream, then he’d be leading the charge in the offseason workouts. And if he were every coach’s dream, he wouldn’t want to be called “every coach’s dream.”
So buyer beware. Johnson is too good to ignore when your fantasy draft rolls around, but consider other options if you can.
– Craig Ellenport