Pictured: lost hope

Soon Chris Johnson’s plunge into irrelevancy won’t even be notable. We’ll just shrug, and conclude that he’s eroded so thoroughly that his record-setting 2009 season was very much an outlier, and far from the norm. He simply won’t matter any more after a fade that’s reached its peak and has been brewing for a full season now.

And when that day comes, it’ll be the saddest statement of all. But it’ll take a while getting here for fantasy owners since Johnson was almost universally drafted in the first round, and now despite the glimpse of life he showed with a season-high 24 rushing yards in Week 3 (seriously), he’s still averaging 1.4 yards per carry. For the ultimate perspective on how crushingly crappy Johnson’s 45 rushing yards thus far is, Jake Locker — you know, the guy who hands Johnson the ball — has 67 yards, 31 of which came on one scramble this past Sunday.

I’ve visited and re-visited this topic several times over the first few weeks. What should the Chris Johnson owner do? Benching him is too painful given where he was drafted, but that may be the only option remaining now, especially in the immediate future with the Titans visiting Houston and opposing the Texans’ tough run defense this weekend. Full disclosure: I’m a CJ1.4YPC owner too, and am the self-elected chair of the support group.

For some more insight on the suggested strategy for Johnson going forward and his possible status as a buy-low candidate, I talked to Rotoworld‘s Chris Wesseling. We also meandered through the other sources of your running back anger/frustration/tears, discussing the early struggles and likely future production of Darren McFadden and Shonn Greene, and if Ahmad Bradshaw owners still actually own an RB2.

1. What’s the best course of action right now for Chris Johnson owners?

I think you have to stay the course right now because his trade value is in the tank. Johnson can’t be trusted as a fantasy starter, but I’m going to stick him on my bench and wait for signs that he’s turning it around. Last week’s game was slightly encouraging in that he broke a few tackles and turned the corner a few times. It’s at least a pulse from him, though the offensive line remains a mess. I’d probably explore the market if he has a breakout game.

2. Johnson’s current trade value has obviously plummeted since the beginning of the season. Is he a good buy-low candidate? Or has his value fallen so far that giving up anything of even remote significance is unwise?

From the offers I’ve seen including part-time RBs and fleeting WR3 candidates, I wouldn’t mind buying a lottery ticket for pennies on the dollar. If the price is a reliable starting fantasy back, though, I’d balk at it.

3. There was concern about Darren McFadden too prior to this past Sunday, and for most of his owners he likely still hasn’t quite wiped the stink away from his first two weeks. Was Week 3 a better reflection of what we can expect? Or will there be more growing pains with Oakland’s new zone-blocking scheme?

I don’t expect him to produce at last year’s pre-injury level, but he’s been a prime buy-low candidate after facing shut-down run defenses the first two weeks. My only concern is that the Raiders offensive line is still getting their technique and timing down in the zone-blocking scheme. Bottom line: I think McFadden will be fine.

4. Another interesting situation lies in the Giants’ backfield. How concerned should an Ahmad Bradshaw owner be if they were beaten to Andre Brown on the waiver wire? Bradshaw’s value as an RB2 could fade quickly.

Bradshaw owners should be extremely concerned. He looked old and slow in the first game, and Brown has been excellent the past two weeks. From my perspective, this offense runs better with Brown in the game. Bradshaw is no longer a strong RB2 option.

5. Lastly, Shonn Greene continues to be a source of frustration after averaging 2.8 yards per carry over the first three weeks. How much longer should his owners hold on?

Bail. He hasn’t shown burst in two years, the run blocking is subpar, the offense is generally a mess, Greene is losing carries to Bilal Powell, and the Jets signed Jonathan Grimes off the Texans practice squad. Greene’s carries are only going to go down.