Andre Johnson

I know that Andre Johnson said he wants to play five more years, but for the purpose of this post I only care about 2013. I’m speaking strictly redraft leagues.

Dre turns 32 on July 11th – so he’s not exactly getting younger – but his production is still there. Last year, he finished with almost 1,600 yards (1,598 if you’re a stickler for details) and 112 receptions. The yardage total is a career-best and the 112 catches were just three short of another career-high.

Dre was targeted on 58.1% of Houston’s passes to wide receivers last season, the highest rate in the league according to ESPN Stats & Info. With rookie DeAndre Hopkins expected to fill the No. 2 receiver role this season, Johnson is going to be heavily targeted once again as long as he can stay on the field.

BUT HE CAN’T STAY ON THE FIELD JAMES, HE’S INJURY-PRONE!!!!!

Simmer down, now. First, the term “injury-prone” utterly confuses me when applied to fantasy football. Is Matthew Stafford still injury-prone? How about Reggie Bush or Gronk or Ryan Mathews? More times than not I think we, as a fantasy community, overrated a player’s injury-proneness and at the very least, apply the label very inconsistently. Basically, a player is injury-prone until he’s not.

Here are Johnson’s games played over his career: 16, 16, 13, 16, 9, 16, 16, 13, 7, 16 or 130 of 160 games. Does missing 12 of his last 48 games mean he’s deteriorating or that he just experienced a run of bad luck? I don’t know, but neither do you.

BUT HE’S GOING TO BE 32 YEARS OLD!!!!!!!

Yes, that’s true. Let’s use the similarity scores app to explore this a little further.

Name

N+1 Season
Age

N Season
FP/GM

N+1 Season
FP/GM

% Change

Andre Johnson

28

12.84

13.166

2.54%

Andre Johnson

29

13.17

13.043

-0.96%

Andre Johnson

30

13.04

8.769

-32.75%

Jimmy Smith

33

11.58

9.059

-21.77%

Rod Smith

31

13.01

13.333

2.48%

Ed McCaffrey

33

11.6

15.4

32.76%

Andre Johnson

31

8.77

11.488

30.99%

Jimmy Smith

32

11.27

11.581

2.76%

Keyshawn Johnson

30

8.86

8.66

-2.26%

Anquan Boldin

30

8.84

7.871

-10.96%

Reggie Wayne

33

10.75

7.5

-30.23%

Anquan Boldin

26

13.01

9.019

-30.68%

Marques Colston

29

11.58

10.914

-5.75%

Larry Fitzgerald

29

11.82

6.488

-45.11%

Joe Horn

31

10.8

10.507

-2.71%

Eric Moulds

28

10.14

7.51

-25.94%

Anquan Boldin

32

7.6

7.76

2.11%

Troy Brown

31

9.35

7.617

-18.53%

Muhsin Muhammad

28

9.67

5.858

-39.42%

Brandon Marshall

28

9.95

13.528

35.96%

Mean

30.1

10.8825

9.95355

-8.54%

Okay so using sim scores we can expect Johnson to post about 10 points per game, but what if we limited his data set to only players at least 32 years old?

Name

N+1 Season
Age

N Season
FP/GM

N+1 Season
FP/GM

% Change

Jimmy Smith

33

11.58

9.059

-21.77%

Ed McCaffrey

33

11.6

15.4

32.76%

Jimmy Smith

32

11.27

11.581

2.76%

Reggie Wayne

33

10.75

7.5

-30.23%

Anquan Boldin

32

7.6

7.76

2.11%

Age 32+ Mean

32.6

10.56

10.26

-2.88%

Look at that, Dre’s projection actually improved. Obviously, we are dealing with a very small sample size, but I think it’s worth at least considering that for a player with Johnson’s talent and opportunity, 32 may not be that old.

One last major concern I’ve read about Johnson is that, as many great seasons as he’s had, he’s never had a 10-touchdown season. I’ve got a couple things to say about this:

 1)  Posting double-digit TDs is hard. In fact, 4 of the top 10 fantasy wideouts last season failed to reach double-digits. In 2011, 8 of the top 10 finished on the wrong side of 10 TDs. So does never reaching double-digit TDs remove Johnson from top 10 contention? No.

2)  10 is an arbitrary number. It’s nice and whole, it makes us feel good. It allows us to write things like “double-digit touchdowns”, but that’s it. What’s the difference between 9 and 10 TDs? One blown-call, one dropped pass, one poor throw, or one missed tackle. Johnson has posted seasons of 9 TDs once and 8 TDs three times.

Now I’d be lying if I said Johnson didn’t come with concerns. Yes, there’s a chance he falls off a cliff this year. Yes, there’s a chance he gets hurt. Yes, there’s a chance (probably a good one) that he finishes with less than 5 TDs.

But really, Andre Johnson is a perfect example of how the fantasy community has a tendency to write guys off too early. Dre’s ADP is currently the 11th WR to come off the board somewhere in the 4th round. That’s probably about right for now, but as your fantasy draft nears, “sexy” wideouts will creep up draft boards. Even guys like Wes Welker, Jordy Nelson, Reggie Wayne, and Mike Wallace will go in Andre Johnson-range.  I’m not trying to plant a flag here, but as of this moment, I’m probably in the minority buying Andre Johnson stock. Then again, you are going to have to be in the minority to win your league.

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