WR Steve Johnson, Free agent
HT: 6-1, WT: 210, Born: 7-22-1986, College: Kentucky, Drafted: Round 7
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Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full ADP list]Overall: B Cunningham (223), B Celek (224), Steve Johnson (225), J Finley (226),
Position: M Floyd (215-WR71), E Royal (216-WR72), Steve Johnson (225 - WR73), C Latimer (233-WR74), D Thomas (234-WR75)
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PPR Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full PPR ADP list]Overall: M James (246), M Lewis (247), Steve Johnson (248), M Reece (249), M Rivera (250)
Position: J Brown (244-WR80), A Holmes (245-WR81), Steve Johnson (248 - WR82), D Adams (254-WR83), N Washington (260-WR84)
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As the number three receiver in a run-heavy offense, Steve Johnson will get many fewer targets than he was used to in Buffalo. His fantasy prospects are accordingly limited. Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin are expected to start on the outside. Johnson may occupy the slot in an offense that has rarely used a slot in recent seasons, or he may rotate in with Crabtree and Boldin on the outside. Either way, Johnson will be adjusting to a new complimentary role, having led the Buffalo Bills in targets in each of the last four seasons. Given that the 49ers prefer to win with defense and a strong running game, and that tight end Vernon Davis will figure heavily into the passing offense as well, the number three receiver may not get enough looks to make a fantasy impact. Johnson's past production makes him draftable as a fantasy WR5 with enticing upside potential; but his reduced offensive role makes it harder to draft him as anything more than that.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Johnson was tied for the lead in targets with six, but only caught three for 39 yards with a long of 18 on his TD catch. Working exclusively from the slot, Johnsonís first catch came on a shallow crosser on the Bills 2nd drive. Johnson ran free on the play and Manuel made the easy completion for a 12-yard gain. Johnsonís biggest play came on his next catch, as he ran a vertical and split the double coverage. Manuel threw a perfect touch pass and Johnson was able to run beneath the throw for the 18-yard TD catch. Riding high, Johnson was quickly brought back to earth on perhaps the most important play of the game for the Bills. With Buffalo up one and facing a 3rd and short, Johnson ran a quick out from the slot. Manuelís throw was a bit low, but the ball was more than catchable. Johnson couldnít make the catch; the Bills were forced to punt and missed a huge opportunity to not only burn some more clock, but possibly put more points on the board.
Week 2 - Maybe it was the Carolina pass defense, maybe it was the budding chemistry between QB and WR or perhaps a little of both. Whatever it was, Johnson had one of his better games in recent memory. He led the team in every receiving category including eight catches on 10 targets with a long of 45 yards. Johnson consistently got open, working almost exclusively from the slot (the one play he moved outside Manuel threw an INT) and Carolina just never had an answer for him. Johnsonís first catch came on the 3rd drive as he worked the seam. Running right past the coverage, Manuel dropped a nice pass in-between the coverage and Johnson was able to make the relatively easy catch. Johnson continued to kill Carolina in the slot as his long set up the offenseís first TD of the game. Clearly a mismatch, Johnson was able to get LB Jon Beason in coverage and he had no problem shaking the talented LB. Once Johnson was inside the coverage and made the catch, it was merely a matter of running away from the Beason. Johnson just barely missed a TD earlier in the game. Running a fade, Manuel threw a pretty ball to the back corner and Johnson was able to get his hands on the toss, but safety Charles Godfrey was able to get his hand between Johnsonís body and the ball, ripping the ball out as they fell to the turf. The final drive was, of course, Johnsonís best. After opening with a seven-yard catch, Johnson picked up 11 more yards three plays later on a quick out. Two plays later it was Johnson down the middle that drew the pass interference call on Kuechly over the middle. The following play was way too easy given the circumstance as Johnson lined up to Manuelís left in the slot. When Chris Hogan ran beneath Johnson on the cross, the two DBs didnít communicate correctly and Johnson was left all alone in the back corner of the end zone for the game winning touchdown. Thankfully, this time he held on.
Week 3 - For the third week in a row Johnson led all Bills receivers in targets, catches and yards and converted a two-point conversion to briefly tie the game in the 4th quarter. It took some time on Sunday as Johnsonís first catch didnít come until the final Bills drive just before halftime. Running a quick slant, Johnson was blasted on the nine-yard gain but did a tremendous job holding on to the throw. Johnson backed that catch up on the very next play with another short gain on a quick out for five yards. Johnson just missed what may have been TD on the Bills third drive out of halftime, just after Kiko Alonsoís INT that took Buffalo inside the Jets 15-yard line. Matched up against Antonio Cromartie, Johnson went to the quick slant and received no resistance from Cromartie. As he laid out for the pass LB DeMario Davis was able to get a finger on the throw and deflect the throw behind the diving Johnson. Johnsonís longest play of the day came on his next catch as he worked from the slot. Johnson worked his way out before cutting up the field and Manuel was able to deliver a perfect throw just behind the coverage. Johnson did a nice job of barely getting two feet in, picking up 23 yards on the play. Johnsonís biggest contribution came on the following drive, however, as he was able to catch three passes and draw multiple penalties on CB Kyle Wilson. Johnson made a nice diving catch over the middle on what should have been a much easier throw from Manuel for 14 yards. Johnson and Wilson got into it the following play, with each drawing offsetting penalties. Johnsonís was especially dumb as it took an automatic 1st down away from Buffalo. It is hard not to think these types of antics wonít get on Marroneís nerves if they continue to the hurt the offense. Johnson drew another pass interference penalty on Wilson on the very next play before catching another 14-yard pass on a hitch. On the same play, Johnson drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Wilson and moved Buffalo into Jets territory. After the Chandler TD, Johnson lined up in the slot on the two-point attempt and attacked the coverage just off the line of scrimmage. He gave the defender a Stevie shake before angling inside and made a nice catch on the high throw from Manuel. Johnson caught one more ball, a 20-yard completion down the seam just as he got between the coverage.
Week 4 - Registering only one catch for a loss of a yard against Baltimore, this was not Stevie Johnson's finest showing. An early drop of a short pass seemed to set the tone for what would be a quiet day. Well covered by Baltimore's cornerback tandem, Johnson's role was limited by the Bills' emphasis on the ground attack, which continued to churn out yards. Johnson was mainly responsible for an EJ Manuel interception in the third quarter, allowing the football to hit his hands and fly into the air for a linebacker to pick off. With defenders in the vicinity, Manuel had to zip the football in to Johnson. Throughout the game Manuel continued to look Johnson's way, but good coverage often forced him to his second and third reads.
Week 5 - After Johnson had one catch for -1 yards in Week 4, the Bills were clear in their intentions with Johnson early on. TJ Graham ran an end around on the first play of the game and immediately targeted Johnson who was running a corner route in the end zone. Johnson very nearly came up with the one-handed catch, but ultimately drew a defensive pass interference call on Joe Haden in the end zone. After setting up the first touchdown, Manuel went right back to Johnson on the 2nd drive, targeting him on four straight passes. Johnsonís long came on the back end of the target barrage, picking up 13 yards on the slant. With Joe Haden lined up across from him in the slot, Johnson gave a slight hesitation before easily getting inside the coverage for the catch. Itís not quite clear how he was hurt and when, but Johnson immediately went to the sideline after the catch and only played one more snap before exiting the game permanently. He appeared to be in pretty severe pain on the sideline prior to heading to the locker room, but Coach Marrone suggested post-game he would be back for Week 6.
Week 7 - Johnsonís position in the slot and short, quick routes clearly fit the Buffalo passing game plan on Sunday. Johnson led all receivers in every statistical category, including 13 targets (next closest receiver had four). Johnson didnít make his first catch until the third drive as he picked up 13 yards on a quick out. A much shorter throw, Johnson was able to slip the initial tackle and turn the short toss into a 1st down. Two drives later, Johnson made a nice diving 10-yard catch as he was forced to lay out on a quick slant. Looking very much like his first catch, Johnson again caught a short out on 3rd down and nearly turned it into a 1st down. Breaking the initial tackle, Johnson laid out for the 1st down marker and appeared to reach it but the official ruled he had stepped out prior to extending. Johnson did all the work again on his next catch, willing his way to the marker to ensure the drive continued. On the same drive, Johnson came up big again on 3rd down as he picked up 17 yards on a dig. Later on the same drive, Johnson was targeted in the end zone but couldnít break the grasp of the defender as the pass sailed out the back of the end zone.
Week 8 - Johnson tied for the team lead in every receiving category on Sunday, despite playing the final 2.5 quarters on an obviously hurting groin. Invisible for the first four drives, the Bills were intent on getting Johnson involved in the offense. Running a quick slant, Johnson opened the fifth drive with a nice 17-yard catch. Johnson made another tough catch the next play, catching the high throw on the bubble screen, but couldnít do much with it and lost three yards on the play. Johnson picked up 15 yards on the next play as he sat down in a hole in the coverage and Lewis did a nice job finding him over the middle. With the Bills moving into the red zone, Johnson did his best on his next catch. Working from the slot, Johnson easily got off the line of scrimmage and immediately worked up the field. Lewis had to go high with the throw, but Johnson made a great adjustment and an even better finish to complete the throw. Forced to open his hips, turn his back on the collapsing safety and elevate; Johnson snatched the throw out of the air but couldnít bring the catch into his body to shield it before safety Kenny Vaccaro dropped the hammer. Not always possessing the best of hands, Johnson showed both incredible concentration and hand strength to maintain possession for the 13-yard touchdown catch. The following drive, Johnson appeared to injure his groin as the Bills broke the huddle and he immediately hobbled off the field in pain. Johnson sporadically returned to the field, but it was evident he was struggling with an injury as he constantly limped and struggled to gain initial separation from the coverage. Nearly a quarter passed before Johnson registered another catch, picking up seven yards on a curl. Two more catches on two more targets rounded out Johnsonís day, but itís hard not to imagine what could have been had he not been hampered by the injury.
Week 9 - Johnson showed no ill effects of the hip flexor that had him hobbled in Week 8 as he led the team in catches with five. Johnson struggled to get much going in the 1st half, only registering two catches for six yards on two shallow crossers and one ďrushĒ for 10 yards on a rather neat option play for Tuel. Tuel kept on the read option and ultimately ďtossedĒ (it was a backwards pass) it to Johnson. The eclectic wide receiver really should have had a TD on the opening drive of the 2nd half, but Tuel never even looked Johnsonís way. Johnson completely destroyed Smith on with a quick shimmy at the line of scrimmage and was all alone in the end zone as Smith stumbled right into Grahamís route. Tuel never took his eyes off Graham on the slant, however, and Johnson could only watch as Smith took the INT 99 yards the other way. Johnsonís long came on the final drive as he showed the same strong hands he had the week prior. Running a quick out and forced to extend for Tuelís floating throw, Johnson snatched the pass with his fingertips for a 13-yard gain.
Week 10 - The return of Manuel meant the return to heavy targets for Johnson, but unfortunately his team-high 10 targets only resulted in three catches. Johnsonís first target came from the Steeler one-yard line, but unfortunately was unsuccessful as Manuel rushed the fade. Johnson was able to create the necessary separation, but the throw was both too early and too deep to the corner and Johnson had little shot to haul the pass in. Johnsonís longest catch came on the fourth drive, with the WR turning the short throw into the Bills longest play of the day. Johnson ran a curl and upon making the catch, quickly spun out of the attempted arm tackle and picked up 13 more yards on the move. Later Johnson picked up another 20 yards as Manuel threw one of his only on time and accurate throws off a play action fake. The following drive, Manuel and Johnson just missed another big play, but again were foiled by the quarterbackís rushing the fade throw. Johnson was able to manipulate the coverage but had no shot with the throwing coming out so soon. The missed opportunity proved doubly crushing, as Johnson appeared to tweak his groin on the play and after one more target was forced out of the game with an injury. Seemingly always open, Johnsonís production was severely limited by Manuelís rust and missed out on what could have been a much bigger day.
Week 13 - Johnson led all pass catchers in targets and catches on Sunday, but also had an incredibly costly fumble on the Bills final drive of regulation. Successfully working the slot, Johnsonís first, and longest, catch came on a shallow crosser on the Bills second drive. Tough for any DB to handle, Johnson easily got inside the coverage and Manuel softly floated the pass to the WR allowing him to turn the short toss into 15 yards. Johnson again got inside the coverage on his next two catches, using quick slants to pick up seven and six yards, respectively. Matching his first catch, Johnson picked up 15 yards just out of halftime on another quick hitter from the slot. Not registering any catches until the final drive, Johnson still made a massive impact on the game as he sealed his block and allowed Spiller to spring free on his TD run. Johnsonís final catch looked just like his first, but had disastrous results. Another soft toss from Manuel, Johnson secured the catch but as Robert McClain went to wrap the WR up his right arm popped the ball loose and the Falcons recovered. Had Johnson been able to hold on, the Bills would have moved well into Dan Carpenterís range for a game-winning try.
Week 14 - Johnson led the team in every receiving category with 5 catches on 11 targets including a game high 31-yard catch just out of halftime. Working mostly shorter routes early on, Johnson opened the 2nd half working a deeper route down the middle of the field. Manuelís throw was high, but Johnson elevated and made a tremendous catch as Mason Foster and Dashon Goldson smashed into him on both sides. With both defenders falling down, Johnson was able to keep his feet and continue up field. It appeared Johnson had plenty of open space to work with, but unfortunately couldnít avoid running into his own teammate in Scott Chandler and ultimately killed the possibility of a much bigger play. Sunday wasnít without struggles, though, for Johnson as he dropped two catchable balls including one that ended up being an INT. Working the shallow middle, Johnson flashed across Manuelís face and the QB delivered a catchable ball. Johnson got his hands up in time, but only to deflect the pass high into the air and Lavonte David made the easy INT.
Week 15 - Johnson lost his mother on Saturday night and itís hard to not think it contributed to his lack of statistical production. His lone catch only amassed four yards, whilst he dropped one other catch and there appeared to be a lack of communication on his other target as he wasnít out of his break soon enough to make the catch. Johnson did help spring Jackson on his long run, however, as his block allowed Jackson to get wide and pick up another huge chunk of yards.