Don’t hurt us, Chris Johnson. Because you don’t have to hurt us, and you don’t have to make us cry. Don’t follow up this year’s +190 yard performance with a 23-yard day shortly thereafter just as you did last year, returning to your previous level of suck. We can’t take any more pain. For now, we love Chris again, even though an awful sitcom repeatedly told us why we should hate Chris.
There were so many compelling and rich story lines from the glut of early games today, with nine games kicking off at 1 p.m. ET, and then only two later in the afternoon. There was Drew Brees continuing in his effort to be Drew Brees every week, with four touchdown passes in just the first half against the Bucs. And Adrian Peterson remaining something that isn’t human with his 153 rushing yards and two touchdowns, making us forget that those numbers are still supposed to be absurd from a running back playing in just his seventh game following his recovery from ACL surgery.
But we focused on three notable fantasy developments, starting with Johnson’s lastest Sunday jog.
Hello again, really good Chris Johnson
I’m not sure if the crater that now sits where Ralph Wilson Stadium once was in Buffalo is a result of the continued resurgence of Chris Johnson, or the Bills’ still inept play from their linebackers. And you know, quite selfishly, I don’t really care, and I’m glad to willfully live in denial even though it was probably far more of the latter than the former.
There will be tough days for Johnson ahead still, as despite his overall brilliance today there were still plenty of runs spent doing delicate backfield tip-toeing, instead of ramming straight ahead and just picking up what the damn play is blocked for, please for the love of god. But we’ll save those irate rantings for another day. CJ401K owners have endured enough hardship and heartache.
So take your good news today, and hold it high proudly. Johnson rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 carries, an incredible average of 10.8 yards per carry. That included some vintage CJ breakaway burst on his 83-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and that yardage on that single run in a Week 7 game represented 16.7 percent of his rushing yards on the season thus far. And about that overall rushing total: it now sits at 496, which is where Johnson’s rushing total should reside in Week 7.
Normally, you’d shrug your shoulders at such a number, and consider it to be routine for a running back with Johnson’s talent. But there’s nothing normal about this season for Johnson, as he’s still arrived at that respectable figure despite having just 42 yards over his first three games. While there are two unfavorable matchups set to greet Johnson prior to Tennessee’s Week 11 bye with the Titans hosting Chicago and then traveling to Miami, those are his only two true remaining land mines, especially with Houston (Week 13) looking much more inviting now on the ground with Brian Cushing gone. Only three of the Titans’ remaining nine opponents rank in the top half of the league against the run.
Aaron Rodgers isn’t so crappy after all
In proof of either our collective short-term memories as society slowly decays due to repeated Gangnam Style parodies that numb the brain, or how much fantasy football controls football watching, I saw several tweets in the middle of this afternoon’s games declaring that Aaron Rodgers is BACK BABY. They came despite the fact that less than a week ago Rodgers threw six touchdown passes against the Texans defense, the same secondary that still employs Daniel Manning and Johnathan Joseph.
But that’s immaterial, really, because what’s important for us is that for the second straight week, Rodgers — who was the first overall pick in many leagues — played like a first overall pick, and not just a really, really good quarterback. The latter isn’t sufficient, while the former only is if Rodgers does it every week. ‘Tis a tough life in a fantasy-dominated marketplace, Aaron, but hey, at least you still have your tramp stamps.
Rodgers only had seven incompletions on his 37 pass attempts today against the Rams, a mark that stood at only two midway through the third quarter, and one of his misfires (or at least that’s how it will show up on his stat line) was actually a spike. His yardage has overall been lacking a bit, so you’ll have to excuse Rodgers for not being on a record-breaking pace for the second straight year. But his output this afternoon is encouraging on that front, as he threw for 342 yards, his second straight +300 yard game. Even after last week’s 338-yard outburst, Rodgers was still on pace for 4,352 yards, which is significantly below his 4,642 last year.
What’s most promising for Rodgers owners is the Packers getting back to being the Packers over the past two weeks, and doing all of the scoring all of the time through the air (of their 22 total touchdowns, only two have come on the ground). Much of the worry about Rodgers early was generated by his lack of scoring over the first three weeks, when he had only three TD passes. Well, with his three today he’s now had 17 over his last four games, and 20 overall. How many did he have last year at this time? 20.
Josh Freeman would like to be your discounted value quarterback
You’re forgiven for not trusting Josh Freeman back in August, even though he was given some massive human beefcake in the form of Carl Nicks to protect his blindside, and even though he was given a deep option during free agency in Vincent Jackson, and even though his backfield was significantly upgraded with the addition of Doug Martin, a first-round pick.
Trust is a difficult fantasy commodity to acquire, and Freeman had very few avenues to pursue while trying to make that transaction with you. When a quarterback throws 22 picks in just his second full season as a starter after chucking just six the year before, that happens. We wanted to like you, Josh, honest. We all tried really, really hard because of the upside you showed in 2010, and because of Jackson, and because we just wanted to believe. But alas, Freeman was on average the 131st overall pick in NFL.com leagues, coming off the board over 100 picks later than, say, Cam Newton.
Let’s stick with that Newton example, and do a little experiment here. Now, I realize that there are sky highs and hellish lows on any given week, and handpicking one week to compare two quarterbacks is often slanted and unfair. With that disclaimer out of the way, take a gander at the striking difference between the production of Newton and Freeman today within the context of their vastly different draft positions and values (Newton was drafted 10th overall on average in NFL.com leagues).
Freeman vs. Saints: 420 passing yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 9 rushing yards = 28 fantasy points
Newton vs. Cowboys: 233 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 64 rushing yards = 18 fantasy points
As is often the case, Newton was saved by his legs. But Freeman, who came off the board over 12 rounds later, easily outproduced him, and this is now the second straight week that he’s taken advantage of an ideal matchup after he had 328 passing yards last week against the Chiefs. But I care little about what defense Freeman is opposing when he’s averaged 11.3 yards per pass attempt over his last two games, as that’s an impressive clip against any NFL opponent.
Earlier this week when we rolled out our weekly composite rankings, a commentor asked if he should bench Matthew Stafford — who’s up against the Bears tomorrow night — in favor of Freeman. In a vacuum, that decision should be easy since Stafford has been struggling, and his matchup is far less favorable than Freeman’s. But we’re all humans around here — or at last I assume most of you are — and Stafford is similar to Newton in terms of the massive draft investment required to obtain his fake services, making the decision to bench him a difficult one for the stubborn among us.
When the matchup is right, though, just do it. Close your eyes, make a few clicks, and do it. Freeman has another game against the Saints this year, and it’s in Week 15 during the fantasy playoffs. Will your cojones be large enough then? Don’t you dare piss off the Palin.