A week ago, Chris Johnson showed us that he’s still capable of not being a crushing, bitter disappointment, and the reason why we hate ourselves every Sunday. He had 141 rushing yards on 5.6 yards per carry against the Texans, one of the league’s best run defenses.
What was even more impressive is that he did that during a game when Jake Locker went down in the Titans’ first offensive series, and he did it during a game when Houston basically became the big, annoying brother who gives little brother noogies and headlocks and such while tell stories of a urinating incident in pre-school.
The Titans lost 38-14, and were down by three touchdowns at halftime, making it a game when typically the ball would have been taken from Johnson’s hands. To further emphasize how absurd Johnson’s Week 4 output was despite the talent we all know he has somewhere, prior to that game he only had 45 rushing yards on the season, meaning 75 percent of his rushing yards thus far came last week.
So surely since he tore apart an elite rushing defense you can feel safe starting him now, and you can welcome that warm and fuzzy sensation you have about a running back who still isn’t playing up to his awful nickname, right? Well, no. But you likely don’t have a choice.
Assuming that a pattern will repeat itself in two straight weeks is an old fantasy mind trick that almost inevitably leads to diminished returns. We know the Texans are very good against the run, and we know that for a number of reasons, but leading the list is the fact that they still haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown.
But here’s what we know about the Vikings, the Titans’ opponent today, and a defense that equals or maybe exceeds the Texans in terms of their strength against the run.
- They’ve only allowed one rushing touchdown, and it wasn’t to a running back. It was to Matthew Stafford last week, and that was only his fourth career rushing TD. So yeah, we’re still waiting on that first RB touchdown against Minnesota, and we’re also still waiting for Johnson’s first touchdown of any kind after he only had four last year.
- The longest run the Vikings have allowed this year was only for 15 yards. Johnson’s longest run thus far is just a 19 yarder, which is miniscule for an RB with elite breakaway speed.
- The Vikings have held running backs to an average of 52.8 yards per game, which includes very mediocre games — at least by their standards — from Frank Gore (63 yards), and Maurice Jones-Drew (77 yards).
I’d heavily consider benching Johnson, despite what he did last week in a poor matchup. The odds of a repeat performance during an equally awful matchup are slim, especially with Kenny Britt still out.
But I understand if your desire to get some kind of return for your steep first-round investment is too strong, and bye weeks may also be a factor, as a couple depth options to potentially slot in are sitting out (Mikel Leshoure, Doug Martin).
Just enter today bracing for more pain, and then prepare to do whatever it is that you do to celebrate great accomplishments in life if Johnson even comes close to repeating Week 4. Clothes are optional.