Feb 15, 2007
One of my favorite e-mails from 2006 was from a guy blasting us for continually ranking Chad Johnson high in our weekly rankings. I liked the e-mail because two days after we received it, Johnson caught 11 balls for 260 yards and 2 TDs.
There are times when people on our boards question a ranking for a particular week before the games are played, and they wind up being correct, but that doesn’t mean we were wrong in our stance on the player going into the matchup.
Fantasy football is less of an exact science than it’s ever been, so in a guy like Johnson’s case, you just have to give the player the benefit of the doubt.
I do think Johnson hurts himself at times by his antics off the field, although his antics are merely child’s play compared to a guy like Terrell Owens’. The bottom line with Johnson is that he’s a tremendous player. That’s not a profound statement by any stretch, but I think it’s worth saying because I believe Johnson’s better than a lot of people who think he’s great realize. He may be the best route-runner in the league, and his hands are tremendous. He has a great feel for the position, and he’s one of the best vertical threats we’ve ever seen at the position. He’s the most complete receiver in the league right now.
Johnson can be a little inconsistent, but I think a strong case can be made to rank him #1 at WR in 2007. Carson Palmer was clearly limited ther first half of the season. His confidence and his anticipation and timing were not right. I spoke to people who studied coach’s tape each week while Johnson was struggling statistically and they said there were plenty of opportunities for Johnson; he and Palmer were just having some problems connecting as frequently as they were capable of.
But back on 11/12/06, the two started to click again — actually they went nuts — and over a five-game period Johnson’s production was sick: 37 catches for 771 yards and 5 TDs. That’s averaging 7 1/2 catches for 154 yards and a TD per game for five games.
Palmer will be 100% recovered this year, and I think 2007 will go down as the pair’s best season. They have been together now for five years, are clearly at the top of their games, and possibly could not be any more comfortable in this offense.
No offense to Peyton Manning, but I like Palmer more. Palmer’s not as cerebral as Manning, but he’s close, and I love his ability to go over the top, which is something that is somewhat lacking in Manning’s game. Granted, Manning doesn’t have Johnson, but you don’t see Palmer settle on checking down quite as much (not that there’s anything wrong with that, that’s how they won the Super Bowl). I just think Palmer’s gunslinger mentality takes over and Johnson is too deadly a weapon to not look to deep a lot.
All great players have career years. Manning had his in 2004, Shaun Alexander had his in 2005, and LaDainian Tomlinson had his in 2006. None of these players will ever top these incredible seasons, which is why they call them “career years.”
Mark my words: Palmer and Johnson’s are coming this year. If you manage to get both, you’re going to win your league.