The player formally known as CJ2k has found a new home. NFL Free Agency is in full force. Ex-Tennessee Titan Chris Johnson has agreed to terms with the New York Jets signing a two year contract reportedly worth up to $9 million. In Johnson the Jets have added a true speed threat which was missing from their backfield last season. The three-time Pro Bowler still holds the 40-yard dash record with the 4.24 second time he posted during the 2008 Indianapolis scouting combine. The Jets now have a formidable backfield made up of Johnson, Chris Ivory, and Bilal Powell. This will not only take the pressure off Geno Smith/Mike Vick’s shoulders, but it may also help the Jets make a playoff push in 2014.
Chris Johnson was most commonly referred to as CJ2k due to the spectacular season he had in 2009, his second year in the league. That season Johnson racked up a remarkable 2,006 rushing yards on 358 carries. He not only finished the season with a 5.6 yard rushing average, but he also added 16 total touchdowns making him a fantasy stud. Unfortunately for Johnson, over the next five seasons his nickname slowly shifted from CJ2k to CJ1k. While many look at this as a bad thing, I’m here to say that averaging 1,000 yards a season is no laughing matter. One thing that can’t be argued is that Johnson undoubtedly set the bar too high for himself early in his career. Most people talk about how he has never been the same since his impressive 2,000 yard season, but very few mention how he is the only running back in the NFL who has rushed for over 1,000 yards each of the past six seasons. He hasn’t missed a single game due to injury and he has scored 50 rushing TDs in his six year career. Last season Johnson combined for over 1,400 yards (receiving and rushing) while accumulating ten total touchdowns. To put Johnson’s 2013 season in perspective, he had more rushing yards than Knowshon Moreno, Reggie Bush, and C.J. Spiller. These stats shouldn’t be ignored.
Looking at the facts, Johnson is still a productive player. The question becomes how productive can he be on the Jets who now have three capable running backs. Chris Ivory was a very good back for the Jets last season. He gained over 800 yards on the ground while maintaining a 4.6 yard per carry average. Bilal Powell wasn’t far behind him with almost 700 yards rushing and 4.0 yards per carry average. Both are great in the running game, but what they lack is a presence in the passing game. Ivory finished last season with a whopping two receptions and Powell caught 36 passes for only 272 yards. On top of that, neither scored a touchdown in the passing game. In steps Chris Johnson. Yes the Jets paid Johnson more money than any free agent on the market this off-season, but despite what many analysts are saying, this doesn’t mean he is becoming the bell cow back for the Jets in 2014. Powell and Ivory are going to continue to get the rock on first and second down, but I expect to see lots of Johnson on third down. In 2014 I expect Johnson to become what Darren Sproles has been for the Saints the past few years. He will take lots of draws and sweeps here and there while being a big part of screens on third and long. Like Sproles, I expect Johnson to be a possible RB3 hindering on RB2 in PPR leagues while more of a RB4 in non-PPR leagues. Remember, he is no longer the bell-cow back of the past six years and he will not see many goal line carries in New York, hindering his fantasy value.
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50 rushes, 220 yards, 2 TDs
60 receptions, 474 yards, 5 TDs
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