Are any current or would-be Chris Johnson owners paying attention?
The Tennessee Titans' offensive line was certainly nothing special in 2011. It took a lot of heat for Johnson's poor statistical season. And according to New York Times NFL writer Andy Benoit, it may be worse this year.
"[Johnson's] offensive line is not as good as it was a year ago, in my opinion," Benoit said during Tuesday's FFToolbox podcast. "I think Steve Hutchinson is all but out of gas. They've got Fernando Velasco at center. ... In what I've seen from him, he got badly overpowered in pass protection, so I'm guessing he doesn't have a lot of phone-booth power in the run game.
"It's not a great line."
Benoit didn't lay all of the failure at the feet of the men up front. He said Johnson deserves blame for trying too hard to break off long runs and big plays that weren't there. Benoit then asked the million-dollar question for fantasy owners thinking about Johnson in the first round of their drafts.
"What kind of player is he now? I have no idea, because I've never seen a running back just hit a wall inexplicably in his mid-20s all of a sudden."
I have a lot of similar concerns, but i am buying into the noise that Johnson has recommitted himself this year and knows how disappointing his game was last season. Benoit also said that Johnson has the speed and the ability to overcome a poor-blocking line. If Johnson gets all he can out of that ability, I think he'll pay off as a pick in the middle of your first round. Johnson is FFTooolbox's No. 4 RB. You know who the first three guys are. I might drop him behind Darren McFadden as well, but I would still take Johnson ahead of Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Forte, Ryan Mathews, etc.