Vikings Charles Johnson Sleeper Potential?
For the first time since Brett Favre led them to the brink of the Super Bowl, there is a genuine air of optimism surrounding the Minnesota Vikings. After enduring Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder and Matt Cassell at quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater looks all set to be a multi season answer to the question of where to go at sports most important position, a question that truthfully has been bugging the team since the days of Duante Culpepper. The relationship Teddy seemed to have with Charles Johnson at the end of the 2014 season is a huge factor in the good feelings some experts have towards the team, leading many of the same experts ready to proclaim the 2015 season a coming out party for the former Browns reject. But is it reasonable to expect Charles Johnson to become a fantasy stud in the coming season? Sports prognosticators and fans are not generally reasonable people, so I shall instead focus on how likely it is.
Despite the promise of Bridgewater and the passing attack in Minnesota, there is a major elephant in the room when it comes to the Vikings offense in 2015. The elephant in question wears 28, is one of the best running backs of our generation, and for reasons I won’t go into has a massive chip on his shoulder. Assuming he is able to shake off the rust accumulated after missing an entire season, offensive coordinator Norv Turner would have to be a special kind of fool to not make Adrian Peterson the focus of his offense. While this may see more man coverage for the Vikings outside receivers, if Peterson is banging away at nearly five yards a carry against eight men in the box, a la his magical 2012 season, how many times are you going to want your quarterback throwing to them? Without AP, the Vikings still ran the ball 413 times last season, 18th in rushing attempts, and with him taking advantage of an improved offensive line, because I’m not sure Matt Kalil could get worse, these numbers will increase, effectively ruling Johnson (or Mike Wallace) out if the WR1 conversation.
Without being the spoon that stirs the drink then, does this mean Johnson should be avoided at all costs in your redraft leagues?
He certainly feels like Teddy’s Guy.
His catch rate of just under 53% is a little underwhelming, as is his two touchdown scores, but if we project his numbers from week 12-17 over a full season, Johnson would have seen 96 looks, and reeled in 51 catches for 877 yards, with five scores. I certainly see these numbers as the floor for Johnson, if he is seen by Turner as his number one, or “X” receiver. During his 24 seasons as a head coach or offensive coordinator, Turner’s X receiver has averaged 60 catches, 107 targets (targets data is only available from 1998, as per Pro Football Reference), 1016 yards and six touchdowns.
Charles Johnson 2014 Gamelog
There is a danger that Norv may see his new acquisition, Wallace, more suited to the number one role, which would be a disaster for Johnson’s appeal. The second wideout in Turner teams has seen only 79 looks, caught 41 balls and scored 4 times. In 17 of those years, running backs racked up more receptions than the number two guy, including 50 catches for Moose Johnson in 1993. Norv Turner simply doesn’t like to share the wealth when it comes to his passing game.
Fantasy Breakdown: My Opinion
I don’t think, however, that Johnson should fear becoming the Alvin Harper, James Thrash or Arnaz Battle of the Vikings passing game. I feel, and no better an expert than Greg Cosell agrees with me, that Johnson is much better suited to play the X in Minnesota. Wallace is a touchdown dependent deep threat, who for me doesn’t have that much value if you subtract his scores. Johnson, at 6″2 and 215 pounds, fits the part much better. Could Wallace find the Endzone more often? Sure. But with a floor of 51/96-877-5, and an average seasonal haul of 60/107-1016-6, as a main receiver on a team that will run the ball more often than it passes, Charles Johnson could well be a nice WR3/Flex option, especially in PPR leagues and at his current ADP of 105th, according to FantasyPros.
With Calvin back to full fitness, Andre playing with the best QB he’s ever been around, and tons of rookie hype surrounding David and Duke, the name of Johnson figures to be prominent in 2015. Charles may not be the most prominent, but that’s no reason to forget about him.
Neil’s been playing fantasy football for ten years, including a victory in 2014 in a league arranged by NFL.com Fantasy expert Adam Rank. Huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, and follows the fortunes of the England cricket team, usually with his head in his hands for both. Neil lives with his fiancé Kate and their daughter Zoe. He is an atrocious Words with Friends player.