Stevie Johnson, who got off to a solid start with touchdowns in each of the first three games, may have hit rock bottom this week after managing just 2 catches for 8 yards and 0 TD. In his past six games he has averaged 4 receptions for 45.8 yards and managed just 1 TD.
The fact is that he hasn’t even been targeted much:
- October 2 (at Cincinnati) – 6 targets
- October 9 (vs. Philadelphia) – 5 targets
- October 16 (at New York Giants) – 10 targets
- October 30 (vs. Washington) – 9 targets
- November 6 (vs. New York Jets) – 6 targets
- November 13 (at Dallas) – 5 targets
In four of the games he was the third most targeted receiver on his team.
The Professor’s Thoughts:
It’s no secret that Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled since the first few weeks of the season, but that isn’t the full explanation for Johnson’s struggles. It’s not like the Bills are simply not throwing the ball, they are instead generally going to other options.
You can also point to a few difficult match-ups, with Johnson seen as the top receiver and therefore a focus of the defensive game plan. Again, that’s not enough for me. Top players simply need to go out there and make plays. Recently Johnson just hasn’t done that.
Johnson has been under 60 yards in five of the past six games (coincidentally the only time he surpassed the mark was 84 against the Jets). If we look back to 2010, it’s actually not like he was consistently great. He posted three games over 100 yards. How many games do you think he had over 70 yards then? The answer was just four (the additional one was 72 over the final week of the season).
In fact he had nine games under 60 yards including six at 40 yards or less. Where his value really stemmed from was his that he was the main source of touchdowns (he had 10 last season). With Fred Jackson emerging (6 TD) as well as Scott Chandler (6 TD) and David Nelson (3 TD), there are now other places for the team to go to. That is going to limit his value.
Does it make him an unusable option? No, but he also should not be viewed as someone that is a WR1 anymore. He has failed to consistently produce yards since last season, it was just masked by his TD total. If you can sell high on him it definitely makes sense, since others may still buy into the allure of his name (and the hopes that he can produce against the Dolphins).