Faceoff - WR Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
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Upside - by David Shick
Whenever the subject of Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson comes up in fantasy football discussions it always starts with the acknowledgement of his tremendous abilities quickly followed by the negatives of his surrounding cast. I wonít repeat what you already know. Johnson is gifted in ways that few other wide receivers have ever been in the NFL. He is special.
Head coach Dom Capers is conservative. QB David Carr has yet to show he can be a consistently productive NFL quarterback. RB Dominick Davis averaged under 4 yard per carry last season. Johnson has yet to crack the top twenty wide receivers for a full season. Iíve heard all the arguments more than once from various fantasy football fanatics. I believe they all have solid points, but I just canít overlook that opening statement. Go back and read it again if you forgot... TREMENDOUS ABILITIES. Yes, Andre Johnson is the real deal. Heís the total package. Size. Speed. Hands. Attitude. Desire. Class act. What more could you ask for? Well, perhaps a better offense to work with, but I think Johnson is going to help this offense emerge. Heís a game breaker that can dominate from the wide receiver position.
Dom Capers is no moron. Heíll utilize his best weapon more and more as his team develops. Donít forget, they were a lowly expansion team only three years ago. The Texans are going to score more and move the ball better because of him. Andre Johnson is the sort of player opposing cornerbacks dread. Nobody wants to get stuck on a island with that guy. Johnson is being taken as the number seven or eight wide receiver in most fantasy drafts. Potentially, I think he could be a steal at number ten or later. He has the potential to climb to the top of all the wide receiver rankings. Yes, heís that good. Will his team pick up the slack and do the minimum required for him to post big numbers? I believe so. I have Johnson pegged to be ďtheĒ break-out player of 2006.
Mr. Johnson, your February suite in Hawaii has been reserved for the next ten years.
Downside - by David Yudkin
Andre Johnson is one of the most talented young wide receivers in the game, but his biggest problem is the offensive scheme the Texans currently employ dramatically limits his value and ability to post big numbers.
Last season, Houston appeared to be on track to opening up the offense early in the season, but quickly reverted to a run-centric attack. Johnsonís splits were not very encouraging: 45-693-4 in his first 8 games, 34-449-2 over his final 8 games. That represents a 40% drop as the season progressedónot the direction you want the numbers to head in.
Head coach Dom Capers has never been a pass-oriented coach. In 7 seasons split between the Panthers and Texans, Capersí teams have ranked an average of 23rd in passing attempts, passing yardage, and passing TD (ranked the same in all 3 categories).
Johnson actually had a much stronger season in 2004 (79-1142-6) vs. 2003 (66-976-4), and even though he scored 30 more fantasy points he only ranked one spot higher in the year-end rankings (22nd vs. 23rd).
Considering that his ADP is currently as the #8 WR off the board, I view Johnson as having very little chance of producing at or better than the #8 WR. Last yearís #8 WR (Johnsonís former University of Miami teammate Reggie Wayne) totaled 77-1210-12 for 193 fantasy points. Johnsonís fantasy scoring total would have to go up over 25% to reach that level, and given the grind it out style of ball the Texans play, I donít see it happening. Let someone else dream about what Johnsonís numbers could be if he played on a team that focused on passing the ball and draft someone else that will out produce his draft position.