One of the greatest fantasy football players of all time’s time is now.
Saying that pass-first offense is a trend in the NFL is like saying the United States is trending toward using Twitter. The competitive teams toss up the ball more frequently than the nightly lotto and it’s the recipe for a win, but the Tennessee Titans are reverting back to a run attack—and so would any team if they had the broad shoulders of Chris Johnson carrying the load.
Johnson—the Titans stalwart who to fantasy football players is the only player worth taking on the squadron in early rounds—has the team on his back this year to alleviate the pressure for the young quarterback Jake Locker. Coach Mike Munchak even shredded the playbook and empowered the running-minded Dowell Loggains, who is going to repeatedly hand the ball to Johnson and use him in play action to set up the pass.
The workload isn’t anything new to Johnson, who in 2009 had an NFL record 2,509 yards from scrimmage. The troublesome number in the past sentence is that Johnson shattered the record four seasons ago. “The average shelf life for a running back, they say, is two and a half years—and I’m going on year six,” he says. “So it is a blessing for me to play this long, and I thank God for that.”
His goal regardless of the play calling is “what every running back’s goal is,” Johnson says. “Every year my goal is to go for 2,000 yards, but I’m mainly focused on trying to get the Titans back to playoffs.” That’s a tall order for the team that finished 6-10 last season, but there is that all-important cohesion to this year’s Titans that starts with the leader—who, when asked if he’d rather break another record or reach the Super Bowl, didn’t hesitate on answering enthusiastically on playing in February.
That’s the right attitude for the man nicknamed Every Coach’s Dream, Smash and Dash, and, for his legendary 2,000-plus-yard season, CJ2K. He has that last moniker tattooed on his body along with the face of God, the Virgin Mary, a crazy chest piece, and plenty of others. “Once you start getting tattooed you get addicted and want more,” he says. The one drawback? “The older you get, the more they hurt.”
He might not take the sting from the tattoo machine like he used to, but he hasn’t lost a step, even though he’s had the career of two running backs already. In fact, when the NFL released their preseason player power rankings, Johnson was at 38 spots better than he was going into last year.