Why I’ll be passing on Lar Johnson

I’m kind of having a hard with Larry Johnson this year in fantasy drafts, but I think I’ve reached a conclusion: I’m going to avoid him.

We all know what Johnson can do, both good and bad. He can be a man amongst boys, dominant. He can also be a dog who seemingly can’t get out of his own way when running in a bad offense and behind a bad line.

Complicating matters a little this summer, however, is how he looks, which is very good. Our own Adam Caplan was a little taken back last week watching him scrimmage against the Vikings in Minnesota by how slim, trim, and quick he looked. His schedule is also very favorable, and QB Brodie Croyle has seemingly taken a step forward this year. The Chief defense may be decent, although their secondary is still a big question.

However, and it’s a big however, their line is still a mess. Have you ever heard of Rudy Niswanger? Neither did I until recently. He’s their starting center. They have a rookie at LT, and he’s banged up, too. If RT Damion McIntosh goes down again, they’re in trouble, and they’re in trouble no matter what, really. Can Johnson overcome a bad line? He didn’t last year. Can he bring it on every carry when he has to carry an offense on his back? He didn’t last year. Can he show the heavy workload from 2005-2006 hasn’t slowed him down? He didn’t last year.

Yes, we have him pretty high in our rankings, but we really have no choice, and I suspect we have him lower than most. It’s not that I view him as being un-draftable. My avoidance of Johnson is very simple.

Johnson’s ADP is about 13. Obviously, there are plenty of stud players being drafted in that range, such as Maurice Jones-Drew, Reggie Wayne, Terrell Owens, Andre Johnson, etc.

Bottom line, and it’s really very simple: if you take Johnson, you’re going to do so over another stud who is much safer. And I’m just not willing to do that, especially with so many solid options at RB available in the 4th round and beyond.

Category: Fantasy Football


14 Responses

  1. Gump says:

    Larry’s looking a lot like Shaun Alexander. He sucked before he got hurt last year. I’m dropping him like a hot potato in my dynasty leagues.

  2. jbeau says:

    Dropping him in a dynasty league is a little drastic.

    I am totally avoiding him in all drafts. Would rather a top WR. If he slips big time, then the value is too great to pass up, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

  3. Gump says:

    Gotta trade him before he’s worthless.

  4. tpwaller says:

    Looks like both Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson were a product of great offensive lines. Now that Willie Roaf and Will Shields are gone, they’re worthless.

    I don’t like the Chiefs QB situation. LJ is a dog who’s been paid. I’m not feeling LJ either. Glad I traded him in my keeper league.

  5. jbeau says:

    Oh yeah, definitely would try to trade him. I thought you meant drop him.

  6. JOOCE says:

    I am on the same page, but am still rolling with him as an RB2, 5th round keeper in my league. RB1 is SJax as a 2nd rounder… He had better get his a$$ to camp.

  7. [email protected] says:

    Oh please, I can understand being nervous about drafting him, but Larry was just rounding into form last year when he got hurt, bad line and all. Last year he had no preseason, only got 10 carries against Houston and then had to face Chicago (before their DEF fell apart), MINN, SD and JAX — arguably the best run D’s in the league last year. After that he had 100+ and a TD in each of the next 2 games and almost 100 combined with 2 TDs (one rec, one rush) vs, GB before he went down.

    Is he an injury risk? Yes, but I don’t believe he’s done and he still has stud potential against a much easier schedule — see Guru’s SOS analysis!:) Trading him in a dynasty league is just giving someone else a buy-low opportunity that may come back to bite you.

  8. spudballscott says:

    I’ve felt the same way about LJ in this draft, and just don’t trust him to draft as a supposed RB1. I’d do better with the other RBs you mention, or a top shelf WR.

  9. BigDaddy says:

    I cannot believe how quickly a lot of the fantasy world has turned on LJ and now considers him garbage! I completely disagree with most of you, especially you, John Hansen.

    Let’s look at the facts here…
    LJ will only be 29 years old this November. He has only played 2 full seasons and 2 half seasons in the NFL, so he is fresh by running back standards. LJ, even with hurting his foot last season, is not considered a fragile running back by any means and a cracked bone in your foot is somewhat of a fluke-type injury. He is a true workhouse type of back and is 100% healthy as of right now and is looking good in camp. Who knows? Maybe the fact that he only played half a season actually works in his favor this season, as he did not have to endure a full 16-game pounding, like he had the previous 2 seasons.

    Now let’s look at the numbers…
    Well, before we look at the numbers, we could all be in agreement in saying that before LJ got hurt in his 8th game of the season last year, he was having a “down year”. He played in 8 games, exactly half of the NFL season. Let’s compute the numbers thru week 17. It is easier to analyze a full 16-game schedule. In a PPR league, LJ scored 129 points in a “down year”. Now let’s assume that “down year” continued along on the same pace, had he not gotten hurt. He would have scored 258 points for the entire season. Hmmmmmm. That would have put him as the 6th best RB in total fantasy points behind only BW, LT, Portis, Addai, and AP. I mean heck, I know other RBs were injured that would have put up similar numbers in that 250-300 point range, but the fact that it seems as though the fantasy world has given up on this guy seems pretty ridiculous to me. LJ scored 375 fantasy points in 2006 and 368 points in 2005.

    Now I know he is not going to duplicate those numbers, not by a long shot. But the fact that a true horse like LJ seems like he is getting so disrespected to barely even be considered a 1st round pick, if that??? Come on!!!!! I think honestly, as you have always preached John Hansen, you want guys on your fantasy team that want to be great. Guys that command the ball. Guys with that “it” factor. WTF??? I think LJ runs with a lot of attitude this year and tries to shut a lot of the doubters up this season. I’m targeting LJ this season in the mid to late first round, after the big six RBs are gone and quite honestly, I would enjoy rooting for a guy that has a lot to prove to people that have cast him off (and in my opinion, for no reason). It’s kind of like when Steve Smith came back from a broken leg in 2004 and had that monster season in 2005. He was on a mission and was available in like the 4th round of drafts that season. I know that KC has offensive line issues and their team is rebuilding, but it’s not like they are garbage. They have Tony G and Bowe. Their line was horrible last year too and LJ held out for money in camp prior to the season starting, so maybe it was karma as well as to why he “flopped” with a would-be 258 point pace for the season. The guy is a stud on a mediocure team, but he will get the rock often and put up some numbers, especially in PPR leagues.

  10. John Hansen says:

    Spin the numbers all you like. And if “Karma” is a point of your analysis, you’re reaching.

    Johnson dogs it at time. That shows up on the coach’s tape; you wouldn’t have access to that but it’s true. His attitude isn’t very good at times. His reputation in the league among those who cover him isn’t very good. Many feel he’d rather be hanging in clubs with his friends in the entertainment industry than play football. The same guy who cried about Laurence Phillips, Dick Vermeil, said Johnson needed to take the diapers off.

    We have Johnson has the 19th best fantasy football option on the planet this year, hardly garbage. Johnson was tough for me because I can see him bouncing back, but it’s far from a lock because his line is one of the worst in the league and his QB is one of the 5 worst starters in the league.

    We’re preaching the importance of the stud WRs this year, and avoiding any possible landmine very early in drafts. Johnson’s not a WR, and he’s a potential landmine.

  11. tpwaller says:

    munchie, I traded Larry Johnson for Stephen Jackson – SJax is younger and as good as better

  12. Former Army Person says:

    While LJ isn’t my favorite person or player, he is in a system run by Chan Gailey that focuses on one back. That can’t be overlooked in today’s 2-back-happy NFL when you’re trying to find a fantasy RB1. All six years that Gailey has been an NFL OC or HC his lead back has had over 300 carries. They never finished below #14 in RB fantasy points. That includes Lamar Smith in 2000-2001 who finished #11 and #14 while averaging 3.4 yards per carry.

    There isn’t huge upside with LJ because of all the limitations of the team around him. But if he stays healthy – and I could write that about any RB – the downside is pretty limited too. He’s going to get over 300, probably 325 carries, all the red zone carries, and there just aren’t that many backs who will get that much work or produce more while sharing touches.

    I can see the argument for taking a stud WR over him (let’s say Moss, Wayne, Edwards, AJ, TO), 10 other RBs, and Brady. I’m pretty sure that’s how I’d draft, esp in a ppr league. But after 16 players, I think you have to pull the trigger on him – in fact, I’d be very happy to take Moss at 7 and LJ at #18.

  13. [email protected] says:

    tp — in that case, that’s a very good trade.

    As for the Chiefs, I think they’ll be better than expected. Not good, but good enough. Their D will be better, Croyle and Bowe have a year of playing time under their belts, and they at least have some younger players with potential on offense.

    If LJ stays on the field I’m very much looking forward to seeing him against OAK, DEN and the FINS in December.

  14. spudballscott says:

    As Hansen wisely pointed out: there’s a difference between considering LJ “garbage” and showing him the respect that he’s earned in draft rankings, for better and for worse.

    Simply multiplying his ’07 half-season stats by two is a very poor analysis of his potential, since we can point to a number of players who either floundered in the first 8 games then raised their play in the second half, and vice-versa.

    The analysis here factors the math in with the PLAYER: the man, his attitude, work ethic and health concerns. Shall we begin to count how many RBs never regained their top form after injuries — despite how “fresh” the off-time made their legs?

    LJ is not garbage, and isn’t being considered such. But he is being draft ranked based on his potential and his downside. For those who value him higher, then reach away. I wouldn’t gamble my season by pinning it to such a reach on draft day.

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