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Saturday, August 15, 2015

2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: STEVIE JOHNSON WR SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Stevie Who?  Remember this guy?  Talk about out of sight/out of mind.  Such was the scenario that befell wide receiver Stevie Johnson over the last two years as the veteran seemingly fell off the fantasy football map, with no end line in sight.  Prior to the journey to the netherworld, Johnson was a solid WR 2/3 receiver during his fist five seasons in the Buffalo Bills organization where he posted three straight years with reception totals of 82, 76, and 79 from 2010 through 2012.  Showing a knack for the big play and getting into the end zone, Johnson also caught 23 touchdowns in that three-season span for the Bills which made him a bankable fantasy football commodity.  Perhaps Johnson's biggest claim to fame during that span however was the fact that statistically the he had the most success among ALL side receivers in football when going up against Darrell Revis who was at the height of his shutdown abilities during that span. 

So what the heck happened that allowed Johnson to fall off the map in 2013 and 2014?  Well in 2013 Johnson was a clear victim of both injury (four missed games) and the truly miserable QB play of at the time rookie QB E.J. Manuel.  With Manuel showing no semblance of an ability to make plays down the field, that neutered Johnson's greatest ability in terms of yardage and touchdowns.  Following that season, Johnson hooked on with the San Francisco 49ers on a one-year deal.  Not sure who Johnson's agent is but that guy did his client a gigantic disservice in having him sign on to a team that is one of the most run-dominant groups in the NFL and who had their own QB issues with the shaky Colin Kaepernick.  Thus Johnson sank to a new low in catching only 35 passes for 435 yards and 3 touchdowns.  With  both sides not interested in a reunion, Johnson was free to sign with whomever he wanted during the 2015 offseason. 

In a move that made no waves at the time but is now starting to earn some attention, Johnson ultimately signed with the San Diego Chargers where for the first time in his career, he gets to catch passes from one of the better QB's in the league in Philip Rivers.  It was doubly a great move for Johnson as well signing with the Chargers due to the fact the team is short on receivers after Eddie Royals left for Chicago, Malcolm Floyd is always hurt, and Antonio Gates has been suspended for the first four games of the season.  That means Johnson has the chance to be a major weapon for Rivers and his new passer has heaped a ton of praise on his new toy all throughout training camp.  The Chargers are a team that likes to throw the football and count on Rivers finding Johnson often this season, especially near the red zone. 

When you put it all together, this is the classic example of a guy who signs onto a golden opportunity as Johnson ends up in a potential dream situation with the Chargers.  The guy is far from old as he enters into his eighth NFL season and there is not a lot of tread on the tires either after his limited usage over the last two years as well.  Johnson is the type of smart late round pick that could yield some terrific value down the line and earn some major props from your league mates this season. 

2015 PROJECTION:  71 receptions 1,016 yards 7 TD

 

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