34-Year-Old Linebacker – Kansas City Chiefs
2017 Fantasy Football Outlook
If his health and athleticism could be guaranteed following a Week 14 Achilles' tendon tear, he would merit a higher ranking. But Johnson will turn 35 in November, and this is the second time he's tor...
Derrick Johnson Contract Information:
Signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Chiefs in March of 2016.
Johnson (Achilles) won't start training camp on the Chiefs' preseason Physically Unable to Perform list, James Palmer of NFL Network reports.
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|2017 Proj||34||KC||Subscribe now to see our 2017 projections for Derrick Johnson|
Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
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A blank stat line is used above whenever a player was not on the field for any plays in the game that week.
Derrick Johnson: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Although he'll turn 34 in November, the Chiefs reaffirmed their commitment to Johnson as their lead inside linebacker by re-signing him to a three-year, $21 million deal in March. Long one of the league's top inside linebackers, Johnson enjoyed a solid 2015 season even as he returned from a ruptured Achilles' tendon the year before. Johnson is unlikely to exceed the 130-tackle mark, but he supplements his tackle production with playmaking skills as a blitzer and in coverage. He exceeded four sacks in each of his last two healthy seasons.
Johnson used to be a regular atop the linebacker IDP rankings, but an Achilles' tendon tear Week 1 last year has his future in question. Kansas City could limit his snaps early in the season to monitor how his leg responds, and it's unclear how the injury might impact his effectiveness. When in top form, though, Johnson provides good all-around IDP production. In his previous four years, Johnson averaged 121 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 1.25 interceptions. He also has three interception returns for touchdowns in his career.
Johnson logged his fourth-straight season with triple-digit tackles in 2013, which was also his fourth in a row with at least 95 solo tackles despite sitting out one game as a healthy scratch for pre-playoff rest. He's one of the most firmly entrenched IDP factors at linebacker as a result, and he does a good job of supplementing his tackle totals by sprinkling in sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles from year-to-year. Although he tends to provide each category in bursts rather than all at the same time, Johnson has 9.5 sacks, five interceptions and eight forced fumbles over the last four years. He should see his tackle total increase in 2014, as the Chiefs are very thin at inside linebacker and there aren't many real threats to steal tackles. Potential fellow ILB starters Joe Mays, Nico Johnson and James-Michael Johnson combined for 91 stops last year.
Johnson was inactive in coverage for some reason last year, failing to intercept a pass while breaking up just four, but he did make it past the 120-tackle mark for the third time in a row. He'll reprise his role as Kansas City's top inside linebacker in the team's 3-4 alignment in 2013, so another season in that lofty tackle range is a safe expectation. Johnson also has some sneaky upside one could miss if simply looking at last year's totals, however, because he typically makes a far bigger impact in coverage – Johnson had 24 passes defended between 2010 and 2011 while intercepting six passes (returning three for touchdowns) from 2009 to 2011.
If your league rewards points for pass deflections, Johnson is probably worth ranking higher. Johnson is as dangerous in coverage as any linebacker, intercepting a pass in five straight seasons, including six the last three years, three of which he took to the house. He also knocked down 30 passes the last three seasons. With a drastic improvement in tackle production the last two years (252 tackles, 199 solo in his last 32 games), Johnson's ascent to IDP dominance is no fluke. Although Johnson is the primary interior concern of opposing offenses, the presence of outside pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston prevents offenses from fully singling out Johnson, which ensures he has room to roam to ballcarriers. Johnson also has a good group of space-eaters up front in Glenn Dorsey, Dontari Poe and Tyson Jackson, a trio that adds up to 938 pounds. The only reason to expect maybe a slight decline in Johnson’s numbers in 2012 is the arrival of Peyton Manning – the Chiefs will see far fewer rushing attempts against the Broncos twice a year now that John Fox won’t need to hide the ball from Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow.
After a game-breaking career at Texas, Johnson was a mostly disappointing player in his first five NFL seasons, failing to record 100 tackles in any season. The light went on in a big way last year, though, as Johnson not only easily established a career high with 121 tackles (95 solo) but continued to show the rare coverage ability that made him such an intriguing player coming out of college. He finished the year with one only interception (which he returned for a touchdown), but Johnson’s eye-popping 16 passes defended indicate that he’ll get his mitts on more than one pick in 2011.
Is this the year? Johnson has been tantalizing fantasy players for five seasons with his impressive blend of size and speed, but he's never managed to turn his physical tools into reliable production. He landed in the coaching staff's doghouse early last year and never made it all the way out, with his playing time limited primarily to passing downs. He has the potential to be very good (just cue up some highlights of his two-interception, two-touchdown effort in Week 17), but hasn't proven capable of putting everything together. He's one of the most difficult players to project heading into 2010 until we know whether he'll be a starter.
Seemingly every offseason there are media reports that Johnson is primed for a "breakout season," but his much-anticipated rise to linebacker dominance has yet to be realized. Now in his fifth season, Johnson is moving to inside linebacker, and has again proclaimed that this year will be the year he truly makes his mark. There are reasons to believe he's right; he'll play inside alongside Zach Thomas, which should lead to more tackle opportunities than he had under Kansas City's previous scheme. The Chiefs' expected struggles should also ensure that the defense sees plenty of time on the field. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's system turned Karlos Dansby into a 119-tackle player last season, and Johnson could see a similar rise in statistics in 2009.
Johnson had a quality outing in 2007 posting 93 tackles and four sacks with two INTs. Coming into 2008, the Chiefs have added Demorrio Williams to the linebacker unit and Johnson could be in danger of losing some playing time. His tackle totals will never reach astronomical heights due to the presence of Napoleon Harris and Donnie Edwards, but Johnson should have decent IDP value when on the field.
Johnson enters his third season as one of the league’s best young linebackers, posting 75 tackles and 4.5 sacks last year despite missing four starts with an ankle injury. With a full slate of games, Johnson should approach 100 total tackles, although the presence of Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris will limit what could be a higher tackle number. Ultimately, this prevents him from being a top-shelf IDP option.
Impact second-year pro should build on his 2005 totals of 95 tackles and two sacks. Look for Johnson to be very active under coach Herm Edwards.
Johnson, the Chiefs' 2005 first-round pick, has a great chance to step right in and start at left outside linebacker. Fresh off winning the Butkus Award for the nation's best linebacker during his senior year at Texas, the talented Johnson has all the tools necessary to be a great player in the NFL. His speed, athleticism, and knack for finding the ball should help him contribute to the team right away. Don't be surprised if Johnson makes a fantasy impact as a rookie.