What if Chris Johnson is lost for the season?
By Chris Smith
August 16th, 2012

Chris Johnson is without question one of the more explosive running backs in the NFL. He has had four top-16 seasons including the top fantasy nod in 2009 and a 5th place finish in 2010. Even last year's disappointing campaign with only four receiving touchdowns still had him finishing up 16th amongst the running backs. He has 65.7% of all the carries on the team since the 2008 season and an amazing 73 percent of all the carries on the team over the past three years. Defenses are without question forced to gameplan for Johnson specifically opening up other areas on the field to exploit. He has scored 42 total touchdowns over four years. Having an explosive, dynamic running back on the field like Johnson helps to open up the passing games as the safeties cheat over to the outside of the field to contain the outside run.

BUY

Jake Locker, QB If he is available in your league, the Titans will feature more of Locker and his interesting skill set with the loss of Johnson. Locker is having a good training camp and should be able to wrestle the job away from Matt Hasselbeck this season. He may go undrafted in your league so he can be picked up in this scenario or with Johnson going down with injury, an owner who has Locker stashed away may panic and practically give him away. The Titans pass-run balance will certainly shift towards the pass and Locker will be one of the players rewarded. He has ability both using his feet and his passing ability although he has never been the most accurate passer and that could hurt the overall production of the receivers.

**** If it is Matt Hasselbeck who emerges as the starting quarterback, he will be a BUY player as well. If this happens, Jared Cook and Nate Washington become the BUY players as well. ****

Kenny Britt, WR If Britt appears to be healthy, he is a BUY player if Johnson goes down to injury. Britt looked almost unstoppable to begin the season in 2011 before injury hit and in this scenario, without Chris Johnson, Britt will be asked to carry a larger role than he would have been otherwise. Locker is not the most accurate underneath coverage passer and he is more of a take chances down the field kind of player. Having a guy like Britt will make that a lot easier.

HOLD

Jared Cook, TE If Locker is forced into more of a pass focused offensive attack, the Titans brass will likely try to keep things as simple as possible for the young signal caller. One of the ways to do that is feature underneath, easy to complete routes and leading that charge would likely be talented tight end Jared Cook. A heavy dose of Cook will help Locker's confidence and keep the Titans moving the ball down the field. The reason Cook is not a BUY player is simply due to the inconsistencies in Jake Locker's accuracy on passing plays, especially on short, touch passes within ten yards of the line of scrimmage. The team may want to use this strategy and have Locker fail to hit it often enough to make it work.

Nate Washington, WR The reason Britt is a BUY and Washington is a HOLD is simply due to the big-play ability that Britt has and how perfectly that fits into the unique skill set of Locker. Washington is a good receiver and is better running slants, in-routes, etc. but where Locker does struggle is touch in those types of patterns which may keep Washington from top-tier receiving numbers. If Britt is not 100% however and/or Matt Hasselbeck is under center, Washington's value jumps up into the BUY category

Kendall Wright, WR Rookie receiver Wright is an explosive quick player that can cause havoc once the ball is in his hands. If the Titans had to move to a more heavy passing offense, Wright would get more opportunities which almost makes him a BUY option as well. However with both Britt and Washington on the field as well as talented pass-receiving tight end Jared Cook, Wright simply will not get enough touches as a rookie to warrant a BUY situation. If you have him, hold onto him and see what happens.

SELL

None.

ADD

Javon Ringer, RB The only obvious one here is Javon Ringer who may be available in the fantasy league. He is either an ADD player or a BUY player

Jamie Harper, RB A second option here is the Titans current, 3rd running back Jamie Harper. He has good size and may be worth a roster spot in deeper leagues if Chris Johnson is lost.

DROP

None.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to smith@footballguys.com.

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