In MEGA We Trust: There’s Little Time Left To Buy Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions - 2012 Fantasy Football

If I would have said at the beginning of the 2014 Fantasy Football season I would feel the need to write a post encouraging owners to try to trade for Calvin Johnson I would have been given a “Well, DUH!” look. Well, here we are approaching Week 10 and Calvin Johnson has missed time and had a few duds prior to injury. I do think this is a relatively obvious claim and recommendation here, and I by no means think I am breaking ground here. However, I am also surprised at the hesitation and lack of trust from fellow fantasy owners in my own leagues all the way up to the Fantasy Industry in general. I have heard all of these statements at some point over the last few weeks and as recently as this week such as “Calvin is getting old he won’t recover quickly”, “I don’t trust his ankle”, “Is he actually going to be 100%”, “Why would you trade away a few consistent guys for a high risk/high reward player like Calvin Johnson?”,” He is getting up there in age now, not worth it anymore”.

I hope to answer that today, and give you my reasoning on gobbling him up while there still be smidgen of doubt in the Calvin Johnson owners mind. ESPECIALLY if they are close, or barely in the playoffs and could use a boost. Some would argue the time to buy him was a few weeks ago, and they are right. I made a trade to get him three Weeks ago now, and after the long, and somewhat painful wait I should reap the rewards this week (tough matchup or not), in the playoffs, and hopefully championship.

The team I traded with was just over .500 at the time, and losing Calvin was really hurting his receiver position. I made him an offer I assumed he couldn’t refuse (Lamar Miller, Keenan Allen and Roddy White), and at the time was heavily in his favor. It still could be, but I knew I could survive the three weeks without Johnson, and now I have him to look forward to the rest of the way. Well, hopefully.

So, if you are a doubter, and I can’t really blame you….why on earth would you trade for an unknown commodity at this critical point in the season? I am hoping to show you why now is truly your final chance to get him because next week will likely be far too late.

Health = Production

Johnson had essentially Weeks One through Three this season and he performed as a solid, but not great Fantasy Option. His Week one was excellent hauling in two touchdowns and racking up a whopping 176 receiving yards. His next two weeks he had no end-zone visits, but accumulated 80 plus yards in both games on six catches.

There aren’t many comparable red-zone targets to Johnson and if he is playing, and Detroit is in scoring range Calvin has as good of a chance as any other player to get the first look. His Week two and three performances don’t concern me much as the volume was there.

Another great way to look at this, and trust in Johnson is looking at his performance last season after returning from injury. Last season after Week 4 Calvin wasn’t 100%. He came back in Week 6, but clearly wasn’t healthy and didn’t perform well. However, from Week 7 -12 he was a top 3 receiver. Up until Week 13 through Week 16 when he struggled again (Killer for playoff teams).

Stats provided by www.pro-football-reference.com

Stats provided by www.pro-football-reference.com

As you can see He racked up 100 plus yards in every week but one from Weeks 7 through 13. The one week he didn’t? He still scored 2 touchdowns. He hauled in 8 touchdown passes within this time period and didn’t slow down up until the Fantasy Playoffs.

Is it possible that this won’t happen again in 2014? Absolutely, but I am willing to take the risk now, while I still can, and be on the receiving end of a fantastic late season performance.

Rest of Season Outlook

His numbers looked great last season sure, but what about THIS season? How does the Lions rest of season schedule look? Although Calvin Johnson is widely considered match-up proof, if he has nothing but the top defenses in the game left to go against he may not be as dominant. Well, he has a few doozy matches, including this Week 10 battle against Miami, but after that it is either optimal or neutral for the rest of the season. Have a look for yourself, in the strength of schedule below from 4for4.com.

Image from http://www.4for4.com/

Image from http://www.4for4.com/

New England, and Minnesota also pose more challenging matchup’s defensively, but after this week if Johnson stays healthy it shouldn’t matter who is covering him.

As a Minnesota fan I have been greatly impressed by their secondary under new Head coach Mike Zimmer, but don’t think they have the goods to slow down a healthy Calvin Johnson. So that means come playoff time he will get to face the worst secondary in the NFL Tampa Bay,  the young and surprising Vikings and then Chicago for Fantasy championships. That is a schedule I would like to take advantage of.

 OK, I Get It….How Do I Land Him

This is where it gets a little tricky. League owners, size, format, and standings all come in to consideration. I obviously can’t summarize each and every scenario. What I can do is stress how badly I wanted him earlier this season, and a few examples of what I would give for him today. Using real questions and scenarios:

1. Would you trade Josh Gordon and Jerick McKinnon for Calvin Johnson?

YES! Gordon has all the potential, he proved it last season, but he is still a few weeks away, and if you are an owner clinging to playoff hopes the chance to land a top 5 receiver for the final four weeks instead of final two is a solid deal for me.

2. Would you Trade Antonio Brown for Calvin Johnson and Darren Sproles?

This one is a no for me. Antonio Brown has done nothing to show a slow down, or that anyone can cover him. I really want Calvin, but not Antonio Brown want.

3. Would you trade Julio Jones for Calvin Johnson in a PPR league?

I think I would. Julio is an elite talent, but Matt Ryan sadly plays behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. He will still have some big performances, but I like Calvin’s match-ups, and team a tad more.

Kelvin Benjamin, Week 10 WR Rankings, Keith Allison

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin already ranks 16th among WRs through nine weeks — does he have room to get even better? Photo Credit: Keith Allison

4. I am likely not going to make the playoffs and am getting offered Calvin Johnson for Lamar Miller and Kelvin Benjamin. Should I do it? PPR

Hmmm. This one is a little tough, considering you are out of the playoffs. It is a fair offer, and if there is any hope of you making the playoffs whatsoever, or if you want to mix it up I would do it. The owner trading Calvin has likely hit panic mode. Take advantage even though Kelvin’s strength of schedule is amazing himself. If you have doubts, sit tight.

I think that should sum it up. Every owner, league and situation is different, but simply put I am trying to get Calvin Johnson in any league where I sense the owner is concerned or over-reacting. He could have a big Week 10 which sinks your chances, or he could put up a pedestrian performance giving you one final chance to pounce.

Either way, I suggest you do just that and pounce now and get this beast on your squads. Thanks for reading.



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