Stevie Johnson: Your Late-Round Target

Stevie Johnson

This offseason, the Chargers lost 103 targets when Eddie Royal and Seyi Ajirotutu left the team, and Stevie Johnson stands to be the beneficiary. He has potential WR3 upside, but he is certainly worth rostering in best-ball leagues, particularly now while his average draft position is hovering just above the undrafted line.

San Diego is the Land of Opportunity

San Diego signed Stevie Johnson this offseason, after he spent one year with the 49ers. The Chargers likely signed Johnson to be a third wide receiver behind Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd, the role Eddie Royal played before this season. While the fantasy outlook isn’t extraordinary, recent MFL10 ADP suggests Stevie Johnson is being overlooked entirely.

If we look at his contract, per Spotrac, Stevie Johnson is getting paid almost exactly what Malcom Floyd makes this year, and he has a contact right in line with guys like Harry Douglas and Kenny Britt. That’s far from high praise, but it isn’t the league minimum either. Given the salary the Chargers’ offered him, Johnson should be a heavy favorite for the role of the third wide receiver in San Diego. There aren’t too many notable wide receivers on the roster, and the Chargers did not draft a single wide receiver this year. Johnson can safely expect to line up alongside Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd.

StevieStevie Johnson only saw 50 targets in San Francisco’s offense last year, as he was outdone by Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. That said, Johnson had four straight 100-target years with the Bills in the previous seasons, so we know he’s capable of handing a heavy workload. From 2010-2012, Johnson caught at least 75 passes for no less than 1000 yards each season, and the man is only turning 29 this season.

Eddie Royal, whose shoes Johnson is likely set to fill, was targeted 91 times last year and ended with 778 yards and 7 touchdowns. Johnson is 4 inches and 30 pounds larger than Royal, which is reason to believe he’ll play a slightly different role, but Royal’s numbers give us a rough idea of the opportunity available in San Diego.

If we conservatively estimate that Johnson will receive 70 of the missing 103 targets in San Diego, his career catch percentage would put that at just around 40 receptions this year. If instead, we push him closer to 100 targets, assuming the 34-year old Malcom Floyd slows down some this year, Stevie Johnson could catch almost 60 passes in 2015. And that’s assuming a catch percentage based on the accuracy of a hodge-podge of terrible passers Johnson played with in Buffalo, E. J. Manuel and Ryan Fitzpatrick primarily.

With Philip Rivers throwing him the ball, Johnson could quite possibly improve his career catch percentage and flirt with 70-75 catches in a best-case scenario this year. As RotoViz pointed out, Rivers is far and away the best quarterback Johnson will have ever played with, so it is not unreasonable to expect some increased efficiency out of Stevie Johnson in 2015.

Stevie Johnson is unlikely to become a fantasy starter this year, but he’s an ideal late-round target in MFL10s with their bestball format, given his current ADP of 204th overall. Johnson is currently being drafted after players including Justin Hardy, Devante Davis (who went undrafted in last week’s NFL draft), and Miles Austin. None of those wide receivers gives you an upside of 70 catches and 7 touchdowns like Johnson does.

Stevie Johnson, Ideal 19th Round Target

When you’re making a late-round pick in your next MFL10, you should be looking for upside and the possibility of catches and touchdowns out of any receiver you draft. Johnson provides both, if things break right for him this year. If you’re looking for a late-round wide receiver in your next MFL10, take a shot on Stevie Johnson.

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