You’re relieved now, Calvin Johnson owner. You feel much better about your place in the world, and your reason for being. You weren’t sure what you had done to deserve the punishment of the last two weeks and the threat of Johnson not playing yesterday, but it’s over now, and you’re safe.
But there’s still something missing despite Johnson’s seven receptions for 129 yards yesterday, a yardage total that ties Megatron for the Week 9 lead with Julio Jones prior to tonight’s game. You can’t quite wrap your mind around it, so sit with me in silence, and it’ll come back.
Is it his receptions? No, because despite a lowly 67 fantasy points which places Johnson in 18th (!!!) behind Andre Roberts (!!!!!!!), he has 48 receptions, and he had 47 at this point last year. Although he’s infamously struggled in two recent games, overall he’s still received the same usage and targets.
Is it his yardage? No, because even with that lack of fantasy production, Johnson’s receiving yardage is down only mildly. It currently sits at 767 yards, and he’s maintained an average of 95.9 per game despite three weeks with less than 60. The booming has outweighed the busting, and last year through eight games he had 801 yards at 100.1 per game.
We’ve been through this, but the repetition serves as a reminder. Johnson has been frustrating during several recent weeks with his lack of production in those games tied to both his knee problems, and his difficult matchups against Richard Sherman and most importantly Charles Tillman, he of the force that makes humans fumble everything. But you draft receivers — even elite, first-round receivers — knowing that it’s a volatile week-to-week position with inconsistent production. A.J. Green is only one game removed from being held to a single catch for six yards. Shut downs quite literally happen to the best of us — or them.
No, what’s still the most concerning about Johnson is his lack of scoring, a problem that remains even after his solid outing yesterday when he still didn’t catch a football while standing in the opposing end zone. Here are more numbers you’ve heard often, but now they’re getting a little worse: Johnson only has one touchdown reception this year, and last year through half the season he had 11.
That’s why his fantasy production has lagged, as that massive difference represents a gap of 35 fantasy points. So what’s up with the drop off? Is it the product of a lack of red-zone targets? Or could it simply be a reflection of a struggling Lions offense earlier this season?
Maybe. Or maybe there’s a even simpler reason that could be connected to Johnson’s health, and that bastard knee.
Why doesn’t Calvin Johnson have more TD’s? He’s been tackled at or inside the 2-yard line 5 times, including four at the 1-yard line.
— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) November 5, 2012
So yeah. Wow.
That Megatron nickname wasn’t just given to him because sportswriters and bloggers live in parental basements and play with action figures. That’s true, but Johnson earned the moniker by having a rare blend of bulk, speed, and raw strength. Right now, we’re seeing his fantasy production when one of those elements (the last one) is at least partially taken away, and he’s unable to muscle across the goal-line in key situations.
And now the links part of the links post…
- How great was Doug Martin’s fantasy output yesterday? He had the best game for a running back since 2003, when a fellow named Clinton Portis had 218 rushing yards and five touchdowns. [Jamey Eisenberg]
- Kevin Ogletree is still a solid flex play, and an efficient one. Despite leading the Cowboys in receiving yards last night, he still only appeared in 20 of Dallas’ 57 offensive snaps. [Mike Clay]
- We’ll surely have about 18 more posts as the injury carnage from yesterday is assessed, but for now here’s the latest. [Mike Stroup]
- Unbelievably, Charles Tillman forced four fumbles yesterday. [Chicago Sun-Times]
- Presented without comment: Terry Bradshaw said Reggie Bush was running “like he was chasing a bucket of chicken.” [USA Today]