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Fantasy football: Chris Johnson finally revving up for a run

Tennessee Titans v HoustTexans

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans

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Updated: November 4, 2012 6:16AM



After rushing for 2,006 yards in 2009, the Titans’ Chris Johnson was dubbed “CJ2K.”

After rushing for 45 yards in the first three games this season, he was knocked down to “CJ0K.”

We finally saw glimpses of the 2K version again Sunday, when Johnson rushed for 141 yards on 25 carries in a blowout loss to the Texans. Johnson averaged a more Johnson-like 5.6 yards per carry, as opposed to his 1.4-yard average through three games.

How many of you were burned by Johnson? I benched him after those three awful games, and I recommended you bench him, too. (Fortunately, I started Willis McGahee, who outscored Johnson, but enough about me.)

That’s a pretty quick hook for a top-10 running back, and I had him fourth. But three weeks was enough to take a break. Now get him back in your lineup.

Johnson heaped praise on his offensive line, which was under fire last season, when Johnson struggled just to get over 1,000 yards. On Sunday, he said the unit was pushing the Texans back and creating running lanes. That’s no small feat against a defense that hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in a league-best eight consecutive games.

With second-year quarterback Jake Locker probably out with a separated non-throwing shoulder, perhaps veteran Matt Hasselbeck can keep defenses more honest. Hasselbeck isn’t the player he used to be, but he still has some savvy, his three turnovers Sunday notwithstanding.

Johnson faces another stiff test this week against the Vikings, who are tied for seventh in run defense and have allowed only 3.3 yards per carry. But we were concerned about the Texans, too. Next are the Steelers (No. 14) and the Bills (No. 28).

If there’s a time for Johnson to gain momentum, it’s now. Make sure you’re along for the ride.

The Dalton dilemma

There’s another new big-play offense in the AFC, and odds are you’re not benefiting from it enough.

The Bengals, led by quarterback Andy Dalton, are averaging a conference-best 9.3 yards per pass attempt, about a yard more than the Ravens and their new no-huddle offense with Joe Flacco. But unless you’re in a league that starts more than one quarterback, Dalton probably has been sitting on someone’s bench while putting up 20-plus points the last three weeks.

He’s 10th in the league in passing yards with 1,111 and tied for fourth in touchdown passes with eight. Points-wise, he’s ninth among quarterbacks, ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers, to name a few. All were ranked ahead of Dalton, who generally was viewed as a No. 2 quarterback.

If you have Dalton and, say, Drew Brees (as I do, but enough about me), you have a decision to make: Either hitch your wagon to Dalton or trade him. If you decide to move him, do it soon. His next two games are against the Browns (No. 28 pass defense) and Dolphins (No. 30). After that, it’s the Steelers (No. 3).

So strike while the iron is hot.

WEEK 5 OUTLOOK

Bye weeks: Lions, Cowboys, Raiders, Buccaneers.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Broncos at Patriots: Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady redux. Any receiver who dresses is worth considering.

GAME OF THE MEEK

Bears at Jaguars: Will the Bears’ defense outscore the offense … or the Jaguars, for that matter?

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Ravens QB Joe Flacco: He’s finding consistency, and the Chiefs have allowed 10 touchdown passes, second-most.

Chargers RB Ryan Matthews: The Saints have brought out the best in other backs. If there’s a week to play this guy, this is it.

Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe: Don’t let the Ravens’ reputation precede them. They’ve allowed three receivers to break 100 yards.

PLAYERS OF THE MEEK

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: He keeps losing points to interceptions, and the 49ers are fifth in pass defense.

Rams RB Steven Jackson: After four games of single-digit scoring, sit him against a tough Cardinals defense.

Panthers running backs: The Seahawks are second in run defense, but why even bother with DeAngelo Williams and James Stewart anyway?

LAST WEEK’S PICKS

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

RB Frank Gore: 62 yards, TD

WR Vincent Jackson: 100 yards, TD

QB Philip Rivers: 209 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

PLAYERS OF THE MEEK

RB Chris Johnson: 141 yards

RB Mikel Leshoure: 63 total yards, fumble

QB Tony Romo: 307 yards, 1 TD, 5 INT



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