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Fantasy Doctor: What to do about Chris Johnson?

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By The Fantasy Doctor

Every Wednesday, The Fantasy Doctor ponders fantasy-football dilemmas and prescribes advice with an eye on helping you win. Email your fantasy questions to fantasydoctor@pfwmedia.com.

Hey Doc,

I'm hurting at RB in a 10-team PPR league. I have Matt Forté, Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Cedric Benson and Alfred Morris. I can start Victor Cruz, Percy Harvin and Pierre Garcon as my two WRs and “flex.” So I need two RBs. I’m thinking about Benson and Charles (do you know if he will start?) I could start Morris but I hate to rely too much on the Redskins. I guess I could start Johnson (I just threw up a little in my mouth). I'm eagerly waiting your input. Thanks!

— Steve

I think you've got the right idea on your wide receivers, Steve. Cruz and Harvin are auto-starts. Garcon (when healthy) should be in the lineup, too.

Forté's injury limits your RB options a little. To me, Morris is almost a must-start out of this group. Among NFC backs, only Marshawn Lynch had more carries in the first two weeks. Morris is getting a lot of work in a good offense; I'd need a compelling reason to sit him.

Thereafter, you've got some interesting risk-reward decisions. Charles didn't get much work in Week Two and reportedly was dealing with some knee soreness; you're going to have to monitor his health before deciding whether to start him at New Orleans. Benson figures to get the lion's share of carries at Seattle, but he's gaining just 3.4 yards per rush thus far.

This brings us to whether to consider playing Johnson. I don't think he's a horrible option this week. The Lions' run defense is decent, not great, and perhaps the Titans can finally get something going on the ground. In Week Four, the Titans travel to Houston, which looms as a much tougher matchup. If you're still willing to give Johnson a chance, this might be the week to do so.

Hi Doc,

I had a horrible Week Two. That said, I get second pick on my waiver wire this week.

I'm considering dropping David Wilson and picking up Andre Brown, but are Jackie Battle or Daryl Richardson better options after respective good weeks?

I'm also looking to upgrade at tight end — should I grab Dennis Pitta or Scott Chandler while they are still available? If so, who would you drop from my roster below to make room?

QB: Jay Cutler, Tony Romo

RB: Peyton Hillis, Chris Johnson, Mikel Leshoure, Darren McFadden, David Wilson

WR: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Roddy White, Titus Young

TE: Coby Fleener

PK: Robbie Gould

DEF: Chicago, Cincinnati

Other interesting waiver-wire targets in my league include: Justin Tucker instead of Gould; Atlanta defense (playing Oakland when Chicago is on bye).

Finally, how long to I keep starting Chris Johnson before benching him? I can't trade him while his stock is this low … not panicking yet, but soon will be!

Thanks for your feedback!

— Mark

Here's my take on these issues:

1. I'm not sure I'd drop Wilson for Brown unless you were convinced it were the difference between winning and losing in Week Three. I believe Wilson still has some upside. He's a first-round pick, and he showed some talent in the preseason. Brown might be the better Week Three proposition if Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) is out, but I'm not all-in on his long-term value. 

2. I'd drop the Cincinnati defense for Pitta quicker than you could say "Dennis Pitta leads the Ravens in targets through two games (with 24)." Chandler's also a nice pickup, but I much prefer Pitta. If you want to pick someone off of waivers, the Cincinnati defense should be the first to go.

3. I don't see a reason to give up on Gould or the Chicago defense right now.

4. Your Chris Johnson dilemma is one many fantasy owners are facing. Patience is really the only option. I think Johnson has a chance to be somewhat productive in Week Three against Detroit, which has had its issues vs. the run. I'd have no qualms with you giving him one more chance.

Hi Doc,

I selected Wes Welker with my second pick in my PPR league because usually he is a lock for 100-plus catches. I don't understand what the Pats are doing by starting Edelman instead of Welker and this has me panicked. Even with Aaron Hernandez being out a few weeks, Welker should get more involved, but should I try trading him now for another top flight PPR wideout — maybe Andre Johnson? What is your outlook for Welker rest of the year?

Thanks,

BD

If you can trade Wes Welker for Andre Johnson, do it. Don't hesitate. Johnson's the Texans' clear-cut go-to receiver. This would be a good deal for you.

Welker's reduced role has been one of fantasy football's biggest story lines through two weeks. The sense here is that while Welker's targets could increase somewhat with Hernandez out, he may no longer be a No. 1 fantasy receiver. If you can get a "top-flight" wideout to replace him, I'd be all in favor of it, because Welker's probably not going to perform to the level you had hoped, based on what we know through two games. In short, I think you've got the right idea on the trade-talks front.

Hey Doc,

I was offered a trade and am having a difficult time deciding on it. The trade: Larry Fitzgerald and David Wilson for Dez Bryant and Cedric Benson. I am not sure if Fitzgerald is going to be up to his standards this year.

D

This is an interesting question on numerous levels. Let’s explore them …

For starters, what’s Fitzgerald’s value going forward? To me, this is the time to be trying to acquire him if you believe he will start to produce close to his past form. One factor in his favor: The Cardinals’ upcoming schedule is favorable. After the Cardinals draw the Eagles' tough secondary in Week Three, they face Miami, St, Louis, Buffalo and Minnesota before a Monday-night home game vs. San Francisco in Week Eight.

Personally, I’m still high on Fitzgerald. He’s a great player who merits top respect from opposing defenses. If I had a chance to acquire him, I’d give it serious thought.

However, from a trade perspective, his lack of production the first two games and the Cardinals’ general lack of punch on offense reduces his value if someone’s trying to move him.

Let’s consider the trade you’ve been offered. Over a full season, I'd still take Fitzgerald over Bryant. However, there's less of a value gap between those two players in Week Three than there would have been in Week One. Yes, Bryant hasn’t exactly gotten off to a great start, either, but he’s in a much better offense than Fitzgerald.

So let’s move next to the second part of this trade: the running backs. Right now, Benson is more valuable than Wilson. Now, that value gap has perhaps shrunk a little with Ahmad Bradshaw’s neck injury, but Wilson hasn’t done much in two games, and Andre Brown played ahead of him when Bradshaw left the lineup in Week Two. However, Wilson’s still a talented back, and he wouldn’t be the first young back to figure things out and become a key fantasy contributor. Benson is more of a sure thing; he’s getting the vast bulk of carries for a Green Bay offense that figures to hit its stride sooner than later. That’s Benson’s upside — the Packers’ offense getting back to something close to 2011 form.

To me, the Fitzgerald-Wilson package has some intriguing potential, but perhaps more downside than Bryant-Benson. I think this comes down to whether you’re convinced about Fitzgerald continuing to struggle. If you are, then it’s an easier deal to make. If you’re not convinced, perhaps you pass, or ask for a little more in return.

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