For my third pick I’m going to have to go back to back with another AFC south running back in Chris Johnson. In his rookie season he finished second to Matt Ryan in rookie of the year voting. Instead of falling victim to a sophomore slump the next year he did the exact opposite and ran for 2,006 yards, the fifth most ever in a season. This led to him being the first pick in many fantasy drafts last year and finished the year as the 6th rated fantasy back.
Next to Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson is next in line for the most consistent fantasy back. When a player runs for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns and it’s considered a "disappointment" to his fantasy owners, you know you have an elite running back. We shouldn’t ever expect another 2,000 yard season from him, not that it’s out of the realm of possibility, but a repeat of last year or more seems almost like a lock.
The only thing that isn’t a lock right now is Johnson actually putting on the pads and playing. He is in the middle of what looks like could be a lengthy hold out if he is willing to eat up the $30,000 a day he is fined for not showing up to camp. He has said that he will not play another season like he did last year without a long term contract.
"It won’t happen again," Johnson said. "This is the last time without me having a long-term deal."
Titans’ general manager Mike Reinfeldt countered that by saying, "We told Chris and his agent we are willing to sit down and talk about a contract, but he needs to get into camp before we are willing to do that. That is kind of our position. He needs to be here with the rest of the Titans, getting ready to play games."
If the two sides can reach an agreement, there is one new player who should take some of the load off Johnson’s shoulders in veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck who should bring some order and certainty to the quarterback situation that was anything but last year. A lot like the McNabb signing in Minnesota should open up the running game a bit for Peterson, Hasselbeck should do the same for Johnson and the Titans.
As long as C.J. and the Titans’ brass can bring an end to his hold out, Johnson should be on his way to a fourth consecutive year of being an elite fantasy back.