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Fantasy Check

And the fantasy MVP goes to . . .

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To absolutely no one's surprise, this season's most valuable fantasy player is Chris Johnson.

The Tennessee running back was the talk of the fantasy world in just his second season, amassing an NFL-record 2,509 yards from scrimmage and scoring 16 total touchdowns while not missing a game.

Johnson's 98 points were second in the league among non-kickers, and he finished with 11 straight games of at least 100 rushing yards. Johnson three times had 232 yards or more from scrimmage and accounted for multiple touchdowns in six games.

Johnson's productivity compares favorably to some of the best fantasy seasons of all-time. Marshall Faulk, for instance, set the previous record for yards from scrimmage in 1999 (2,429) in 1999, but he had four fewer touchdowns than Johnson. Faulk did, however, score a then-record 26 touchdowns one season later while gaining 2,189 yards from scrimmage

In 1984, Eric Dickerson set the NFL record for rushing yards in a season with 2,105, but he finished witih fewer touchdowns (14) and yards from scrimmage (2,244) than Johnson.

While Johnson's performance -- especially down the stretch -- makes him the clear fantasy MVP, he needs to score more often to be considered among the all-time fantasy kings.

In 1995, all-time rushing leader Emmitt Smith scored a then-record 25 touchdowns to go along with 2,148 yards from scrimmage. Three years later, Terrell Davis scored 23 touchdowns and had 2,225 yards from scrimmage, including 2,008 yards rushing.

In 2005, Shaun Alexander had 1,958 yards from scrimmage but scored a then-record 28 touchdowns on his way to being named most valuable player. Then in 2006, LaDainian Tomlinson set the gold standard for fantasy excellence with 33 total touchdowns, including two passing, and 2,343 yards from scrimmage.

Historical comparisons not withstanding, Johnson delighted those who drafted him with his output over the final weeks of the season, when fantasy leagues hold their playoffs.
In Week 15, Johnson scored 15 fantasy points in standard-scoring formats (six points per touchdown; one point per 10 yard rushing; one point per 10 yards receiving), followed by 23 points in Week 16 and 31 points on Sunday.

Still, Johnson's touchdown total was not exceptional. Consider Titans teammate LenDale White scored 16 touchdowns last season, and he needed just 205 touches. Johnson had 408 touches this season.

Those are factors to mull for those who have the first overall pick next season. Yes, Johnson is the prohibitive top pick, but remember most players coming off career years dropped off significantly the following season.

Tomlinson, for example, went from 33 touchdowns to 18. Alexander went from 28 to seven, and Smith from 25 to 15.

The exception of course is Faulk, who followed his record-setting season in yards from scrimmage with a record season for touchdowns. Fantasy players who have the No. 1 overall pick better hope that's also the trajectory Johnson follows.

By Gene Wang  |  January 4, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  | Category:  Fantasy Football Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Johnson's was the greatest performance in NFL history for a running back. Of course he's unlikely to repeat it next year, but another 2000 yards from scrimmage seems a possibility.

Scoring TDs has a lot to do with the team and whether they give him the ball in short yardage situations. It varies a lot. Thomas Jones has been given the ball a lot in short yardage situations the last two years. Prior to that he scored very few touchdowns.

Posted by: Argyll | January 10, 2010 11:03 AM

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