PPR Comparison: Reggie Bush vs. Chris Johnson

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Published: August 20, 2013

PPR Comparison

PPR Comparison: Bush vs. CJ2K

The days before a draft are always ones of hectic, exciting anticipation. We get an idea of who we want and where we want to draft them. Every year there are players we can’t choose between. During the next few weeks, fantasy owners will likely be faced with the decision of whether to draft Chris Johnson or Reggie Bush. This verdict will have most value in PPR leagues. Obviously, with any choice there are different aspects that need to be taken into consideration. Four especially important factors in this decision-making process include the running back’s history, offensive line, quarterback and other backfield members.

History Comparison

Reggie Bush: If history was the only area being factored into choosing between Reggie Bush or Chris Johnson this year, CJ2K would win in a landslide. Granted, Bush did a lot of work in the return game during his New Orleans years and was featured in the passing game more frequently than in recent seasons. In fact, after averaging 80 catches in his first two seasons in the league, Bush has only averaged 42 catches per season since then – a span of five years. Although, in Bush’s defense, his two seasons with the Miami Dolphins saw drastic increases in carries. After a previous career high of 157 rush attempts in 2007, Bush carried the ball 216 times in 2011 and 227 times in 2012.

Injuries escape no football player and Reggie Bush has been no different. Last year was the first season Bush had played all 16 games since his 2006 rookie campaign. Recent seasons have dispelled the injury bug for Bush, however, as he only missed one game in two years with Miami.

Chris Johnson: While Reggie Bush’s career has been riddled with injuries, Chris Johnson has enjoyed an extremely healthy career with the Tennessee Titans, missing just one game in his 2008 rookie year. While Johnson hasn’t been as productive as  a pass-catcher compared to Bush, he’s had most of his success running the ball, including his 2,006 yard season in 2009. Over his short five year career, thus far Johnson has averaged 1,377.6 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns per season, although he has scored just 10 times on the ground in the past two seasons combined.

While it may seem like Johnson has a distinct advantage over Bush in the world of fantasy football, a comparison is merited, especially over the last two years. In 2011 Johnson had just three more fantasy points than Bush and in 2012 the Titans’ workhorse bested Bush by just eight fantasy points.

They were both Top 15 PPR running backs in those two seasons.

Advantage: Johnson

 

Offensive Line Comparison

Reggie Bush: Detroit’s offensive line was mediocre at best in 2012. The Lions had just four rushes of 20 yards or more. With Reggie Bush now in town, that’s likely to change. Bush does most of his work, and his best work, in space. There will likely be a lot of movement from the offensive line this year while Bush is in the backfield as they try to increase his big play ability, something they severely lacked in 2012.

Chris Johnson: The Titans’ offensive line was porous in 2012, but they did make substantial upgrades during the 2013 off-season. After signing free agent guard Andy Levitre they drafted guard Chance Warmack with the 10th overall selection, both of whom are slated to start this year. Despite having one of, if not the worst offensive lines in football last year, Johnson still managed over 1,200 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns – a very promising sign for the upcoming season.

Advantage: Bush

 

Quarterback Comparison

Reggie Bush: Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford, while inconsistent at times, is one of the best young gunslingers in the NFL. While known for targeting All Pro receiver Calvin Johnson down the field frequently, he will be looking for Bush in the flat and on the outside this season.

With Nate Burleson over the hill and starting opposite Johnson, it wouldn’t be surprising for Bush to be the second most targeted player on Detroit’s offense. Stafford’s strength is just that, his arm strength. The Lions would be smart to include Bush early and often in the passing game, providing Stafford with more high percentage throws and taking some pressure off Megatron. In Detroit’s potent offense, Bush could get close to the receiving numbers he put up in his time as a Saint.

Gridiron Experts MembershipChris Johnson: Johnson proved last year that he doesn’t need steady quarterback play to have success, although it would probably have shined a more positive light on his production. The obvious question for Tennessee at quarterback this year is Jake Locker’s health. A healthy quarterback means more fluidity for an offense and it would take some of the weight off of Johnson’s shoulders.

While a healthy Locker would be beneficial for the Titans as a whole, it would likely decrease some of Johnson’s receiving opportunities. After being targeted 79 times in 2011, third among running backs, he was targeted just 49 times in 2012 – 21st among running backs – resulting in a career low 36 receptions. However, Johnson is first and foremost a running back.

Advantage: Bush

 

Stealing Thunder Comparison

Reggie Bush: Mikel Leshoure, Joique Bell

Most NFL teams now feature a running back by committee system – one of the most annoying parts of fantasy football. The Lions are no different. Mikel Leshoure will be Bush’s main competition, especially on short-yardage plays and near the end zone. He will likely vulture at least a handful of scores from Bush. Joique Bell should mainly be featured on third downs and in COP (change of pace) situations, while taking some opportunities away from Bush in the passing game.

Chris Johnson: Shonn Greene

Sharing the backfield is not a new concept to Chris Johnson. In 2008, LenDale White scored 15 times on 200 rushes. Johnson still racked up over 1,200 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns that year – his rookie year. While Shonn Greene probably won’t get 15 touchdowns like White did, he will be stealing some thunder away from Johnson, especially near the end zone, like Leshoure with Bush.

The advantage Johnson has is that he will still garner most of the targets in the passing game with Greene primarily playing a short yardage and “inside the five” role. Still, expect Johnson to at least equal his rushing touchdown total of six from a year ago.

Advantage (least affected): Johnson

 

Conclusion

Honestly, you can’t go wrong either way. They were only separated by a few fantasy points over the last two years in PPR scoring. Johnson was 12th in 2012 and 9th in 2011. Bush was 14th in 2012 and 13th in 2011. I would comfortably spend an early second round pick in PPR drafts on either of these guys. My personal preference is Chris Johnson, who I have ranked two spots ahead of Bush.

 

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Discussion5 Comments

  1. Taydigga says:

    Bush is gonna kill Johnson this year. I expect this to be a career year for Bush.

  2. Zach Greubel says:

    I’m psyched about Bush’s receiving game this year. Like I said, he could easily be their second most targeted player. Seventy catches are definitely attainable.

  3. Charlie says:

    I am leaning towards bush, but really do not understand how you consider him having the edge in O-line when johnson has two new presumably very good guards… Did I overlook something?

  4. Zach Greubel says:

    The Titans arguably had the worst offensive line in football last year. Levitre and Warmack will help but right now I still think Bush has the better offensive line. We’ll see as the season unfolds.

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