Week 12 flops: Chris Johnson struggles

Published Nov. 29, 2010 12:00 a.m. ET

I send congratulations to Andre Johnson.

No, I’m not giving him a pat on the back for winning his battle with Cortland Finnegan. Rather, Johnson was awarded the game ball on Sunday for becoming the first wide receiver to record 60 receptions in each of his first eight NFL seasons. Jerry Rice caught 49 passes as a rookie for the 49ers despite starting only four games.

Johnson caught nine passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in the fairly nondescript 20-0 victory over Tennessee. That’s not enough to be a “Flop.” He is included in this piece because of the widespread panic caused by his ejection and the speculation that he’ll face a suspension for the melee (or is donnybrook a better word?). For what it’s worth, the Texans and Titans are scheduled for a return bout in Week 15.

The only story to trump Andre Johnson’s meltdown in his head-to-head matchup against the Darius Kasparaitis of the NFL was Steve Johnson’s gaffe in overtime against the Steelers. Johnson drew attention to himself in Week 11 with his “Why So Serious?” shirt after scoring one of three touchdowns against the Bengals. He’s now front and center on newscasts and highlight shows by questioning the Almighty (or perhaps just the football gods) after running a beautiful route and dropping a would-be game-winner from Ryan Fitzpatrick in overtime. Johnson dropped five passes on Sunday and finished the game with nine receptions for 78 yards.

I do have to say. Three weeks ago, I would mention Steve Johnson to casual NFL fans and hear crickets. Nobody who traverses the internet is unaware of the third-year receiver now. I guess he’ll wear the “anti-Kurt Warner” tag for a while.

The Philadelphia-Chicago matchup served as a tremendous setup for the Sunday night marquee matchup between Indianapolis and San Diego. If you missed it and received a text message with the final score, you did a premature celebration dance. Philip Rivers was efficient and victorious, but he finished without a touchdown pass for the first time in 24 games. He completed 19-of-23 attempts for 185 yards and two sacks. None of those passes were caught by Malcom Floyd, and Vincent Jackson left with a calf injury before he was targeted by Rivers.

Antonio Gates caught four passes for 46 yards and was clearly affected by the foot injury that kept him out of two games. It sounds as though he’ll continue to play through the injury, but this is an ongoing situation that will bear watching. I have to wonder whether it’s worth sitting him for Week 13 at home against Oakland (everybody appears to be injured) and try to get him the extra recuperation time for Week 14 against that pesky Kansas City squad.

On the other side of that battle, fantasy owners received an early touchdown pass from Peyton Manning and became optimistic that he had exorcised the demons of San Diego defenses past. Alas, Manning would go on to throw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns (four overall). He passed for 285 yards and did throw two touchdown passes. In the past two weeks, Manning has thrown seven interceptions.

Reggie Wayne came into the game banged-up and had to be helped off of the field in the fourth quarter. So, I’ll put a small zero on him this week. Wayne caught five passes for 42 yards.

I call out DeSean Jackson’s “alligator arms” on a pass thrown into the end zone by Michael Vick. That play is now one of several points swirling in a storm around the Eagles following Sunday’s loss to Chicago. He was scolded for acting like “a diva” throughout the day by Andy Reid, according to several reports out of Philadelphia. Jackson caught only two of the five passes thrown to him for 26 yards.

We are still wondering why Chris Johnson was such an afterthought on Sunday against the heretofore deplorable Houston defense. I believe Johnson is trying to figure it out himself. He carried the ball seven times for five yards with two catches for two yards in the shutout loss. It was Johnson’s fifth game this season with fewer than 70 rushing yards. Might the return of Kerry Collins make a difference, or do we roll into a doom-and-gloom close to the season?

Rusty Smith couldn’t deliver in the glorious spot against the Houston pass defense. Nobody realistically thought he’d perform in a big fashion, but a shutout by the Texans seemed more unlikely. Instead, Smith passed for a paltry total of 138 yards with three interceptions.


Randy Moss caught multiple passes against the Texans, although the camera angles suggested that he wasn’t the intended target. Regardless, he finished with just 23 receiving yards. I had called for repeated deep throws, just for kicks, but nobody read my emails.

Nate Washington was limited to a single reception for 10 yards on four targets. Washington had topped 100 receiving yards in back-to-back weeks prior to Sunday’s horrible offensive effort by the Titans.

Steven Jackson is icing down and celebrating the Rams’ hard-fought road win over the Broncos. Longtime readers of my ramblings know of my affinity for Jackson and his weekly efforts. Alas, he finishes on the “flops” list for Week 12. Jackson’s fantasy owners watched Kenneth Darby vulture a 1-yard touchdown run. Jackson finished with 72 rushing yards on 29 carries.

The Packers relied on Aaron Rodgers as the leading rusher in Week 12. Brandon Jackson struggled as the lead back and, after a while, the Falcons didn’t even believe that a rushing attempt was forthcoming. Jackson carried the ball 10 times for 26 yards, adding just 10 receiving yards on three receptions.

James Jones finished Sunday’s game against Atlanta with five receptions for 44 yards on eight targets. Three of his five receptions came from the Atlanta 21-yard line or closer. Jones was tackled at the 2-yard line on one possession and at the 4-yard line on another.

Veteran receiver Donald Driver caught two of three targets for 26 yards.

Those fans who still want to see that “little kid at Christmas” look from Brett Favre got their chance on Sunday when he scrambled for a crucial first down. Alas, he finished with only nine rushing yards, so it didn’t yield a fantasy point. Favre did not commit a turnover in this game nor did he throw a touchdown pass. He finished with 172 passing yards.

Percy Harvin is wishing that he could bring Randy Moss home, as the second-year receiver hasn’t been able to match his production from that brief period. Harvin caught five passes for 32 yards against the Redskins. In the past two weeks, he’s caught seven passes for 44 yards.

Minnesota receiver Sidney Rice caught a single pass of 20 yards on only four targets. He’d been targeted 10 times in Week 11, so fantasy owners leapt to get him into their starting lineups against the banged-up Redskins. Alas, they were left wanting.

Santana Moss did play in this game, but registered just five receptions for 40 yards. Moss was targeted seven times in the loss. He’s finished with fewer than 60 receiving yards in three of the past four weeks.

Chris Cooley caught five passes for 49 yards, his seventh game with at least five receptions this season, in Sunday’s loss to Minnesota. He’s eclipsed 60 receiving yards only four times this season. Mike Shanahan is at it again. With Ryan Torain sidelined and Clinton Portis on injured reserve, we believed that Shanahan couldn’t possibly take away touches from Keiland Williams. He did just that, leaving the would-be fantasy superhero with three carries. Williams earned just five rushing yards, adding four receptions for 21 yards.

Waiver-wire darling Derek Hagan of the Giants nearly fumbled early in Sunday’s game against the Jaguars and didn’t see many opportunities thereafter. Hagan caught two of four targets for 21 yards.

Ben Roethlisberger appeared to be injured during Sunday’s game against Buffalo (he has a sprained foot), but gutted his way to another win. Alas, he did not post one of those dominant fantasy performances. Roethlisberger passed for 246 yards, rushed for 18 yards and was sacked five times.

Mike Wallace was limited to just three receptions for 33 yards as Buffalo did a fine job to thwart the deep ball. It was only the second time that Wallace was shut out since Roethlisberger returned to the lineup.

Lee Evans was on the board as a low-end WR3 flier against the Steelers’ secondary. He caught a single pass for nine yards and lost a fumble in the overtime loss. It was his first single-reception effort since Week 4.

For the second straight week, Marshawn Lynch was limited to seven carries. He earned 20 rushing yards, adding two receptions for 13 yards. Lynch has scored one touchdown in the past six weeks.

Is it me, or do we need to be worried about Darren McFadden again? McFadden was shut down altogether in Week 11 by the Steelers. He caught seven passes for 63 yards against the Dolphins on Sunday, but earned two yards on eight carries. McFadden and a banged-up Oakland offense next face the surging Chargers.

The Baltimore defense bounced back brilliantly from previous failures against opposing runners. They did a phenomenal job against LeGarrette Blount, limiting the rising star to 55 yards on 13 carries. It was the second time in the past four weeks that Blount was held under 60 rushing yards.

Mike Williams caught two passes for a season-low 20 receiving yards in Sunday’s loss to Baltimore. He was targeted seven times.

I cautioned against starting Anquan Boldin because of the one-on-one matchup with Aquib Talib. He finished with three receptions for 27 yards. Boldin has scored once in the past four weeks, and has only topped 60 receiving yards on five occasions. In the past two weeks, he’s caught a total of six passes for 56 yards. Fantasy owners need to look twice at their benches before locking Boldin in going forward.