29-Year-Old Wide Receiver – Detroit Lions
2015 Fantasy Football Outlook
The consensus No. 1 fantasy receiver a year ago, Johnson wasn't even the most productive target on his own team in 2014. Of course, Johnson missed three full games and most of two others with an ankle...
Calvin Johnson Contract Information:
Signed a seven-year extension with the Lions in March of 2012 worth $132 million, of which $60 million is guaranteed.
Johnson is not slated to play in Friday's preseason game against the Jaguars.
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|Receiving||Rec Distance||Big Rec Games||Rushing||Kick Ret||Punt Ret||Fumbles|
|2015 Proj||29||DET||Subscribe now to see our 2015 projections for Calvin Johnson|
Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
|Fantasy Points Per Game||Receiving Stats||Red Zone Targets||Rushing Stats||Red Zone Runs|
|2015 Proj||29||DET||Subscribe now to see our 2015 projections for Calvin Johnson|
Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
|Snap Count||Receiving||Rec Distance||Rushing||Fumbles||Kick Ret||Punt Ret||Red Zone Targets||Red Zone Runs|
A blank stat line is used above whenever a player was not on the field for any plays in the game that week.
Calvin Johnson: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
Exclusive Fantasy Analysis (FREE PREVIEW)Johnson endured a high ankle sprain last season, but he appears well past that issue now and is looking forward to a statistical rebound in his second season working in coordinator Joe Lombardi's offense. In 13 games last year, Johnson recorded 71 catches for 1,077 yard and eight TDs, subpar numbers for him, but assuming continued good health, it's more than reasonable to predict an uptick in production for the talented wideout, who turns 30 in September.
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
The LeBron James of NFL wideouts, Johnson wasn’t the top receiver in the league last year – that title would belong to Josh Gordon, who like Johnson played only 14 games. And Johnson didn’t lead the league in receiving touchdowns – that distinction went to Demaryius Thomas whose quarterback made the NFL record book his autobiography. Instead, Johnson was the league’s No. 3 fantasy wideout in standard leagues and fell all the way to No. 5 in PPR. Moreover, Johnson, who will be 29 in September, underwent a knee scope in January along with an operation on his finger. That’s the bad news. The good? Johnson’s four-year averages are 95 catches for 1564 yards and 11 touchdowns, a career season for just about any other receiver in the league. Even Gordon scored only nine times last year, and no one besides Gordon broke 1.500 yards. At 6-5, 236 and with elite deep speed, Johnson is the most physically gifted receiver in the history of the league. While he lacks an elite quarterback to get him the ball, he has the next best thing – a big-armed, mistake-prone gunslinger in Matt Stafford who will put the team in must-throw situations and keep firing. Moreover, Johnson’s indoor home venue assures good passing conditions in most of his games. The offseason addition of Golden Tate isn’t likely to cut into Johnson’s voluminous opportunities – Stafford finished first, fifth and 17th all-time in single-season passing attempts the last three years. Of some concern are the additions of new head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi who replace Jim Schwartz and Scott Linehan, the duo that permitted Stafford to attempt so many passes the last three years. But Lombardi was Drew Brees’ quarterback coach, and Caldwell was Peyton Manning’s head coach, so unless the Lions defense were to take a quantum leap, we should expect Stafford to be among the league leaders in attempts – and Johnson in targets – no matter who else is on the field.
If someone told you Johnson scored only five touchdowns, had only five catches of 40 or more yards and averaged 9.6 YPT (down from 10.6 in 2011), you'd probably think he had an off year. Instead he destroyed the single-season record for receiving yards. While Johnson didn't strike for too many huge plays, he had 40 catches of 20-yards or more, 11 more than Demaryius Thomas who would have led the league by a wide margin in almost any other season. Johnson's lack of touchdowns stemmed partly from bad luck – Matthew Stafford, who led the NFL in bad passes (44), missed him after he had gotten behind the defense on a few occasions, and Johnson also caught a few balls just short of the goal line – but also from an inexplicable lack of use from in close. Of Johnson's league-leading 204 targets, only 17 were red-zone looks (T-17th), eight from inside the 10 (T-12th) and five from inside the five (T-5th). We have to think that will change for the 6-5, 235-pound Johnson – whose size and frame make him ideal for work in that area. If it doesn't, the TDs will rebound anyway, but closer to 10 than 15, making him essentially Andre Johnson in his prime.
Finally paired with a quality quarterback, Johnson lived up to his lofty pedigree, leading all wideouts in touchdowns (16) and yards (1,681) while finishing third in catches (96) last season. At 6-5, 235, and with elite deep speed, Johnson’s a physical marvel, able to get beat double teams all over the field and break tackles after he catches the ball. Johnson’s got good hands – only six drops (tied for 23rd) on 158 targets (3rd) – and he’s an ideal presence in the red zone (25 targets, 2nd) and at the goal line (11 targets inside the 10, 3rd). Moreover, Johnson had 10 catches for 40-plus yards, easily leading the league, and his 10.64 YPT was fourth among the league’s 32 100-target wideouts. At 26, Johnson’s in the prime of his career, and with quarterback Matthew Stafford likely to get better, the team lacking an established go-to running back and sharing a division with high flying offenses in Green Bay and possibly Chicago, Johnson’s again poised to be the league’s top receiver.
While Andre Johnson has the position's highest floor, it's Calvin Johnson who has its highest ceiling. Johnson managed to play in all 16 games (technically – he was active but sat out Week 17) for the second time in his four-year career, and just as in 2008, he hauled in 12 touchdowns. But health has not been Johnson's only issue – he's also suffered from inconsistent quarterbacking. Last year, he mostly caught passes from serviceable journeyman Shaun Hill, though Drew Stanton and former No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford made three starts each as well. Stafford's health and development are the keys for Johnson to take the leap from star wideout to easy No. 1 on everyone's board, and it looks like Stafford is 100 percent for the start of training camp. As for Johnson himself, there's not much in his statistical record – other than the 12 TDs – that stands out. His 14.6 yards per catch, 8.2 yards per target and three catches of 40-plus are ordinary as is his 56 percent catch rate. What's not ordinary is Johnson's 6-5, 235-pound frame and game-breaking speed. The stats give us a pretty good idea of how good a player's been. But the physical skills tell us what he might be if circumstances cooperate.
A top-five receiver on virtually every draft board, Johnson was one of the bigger disappointments in 2009, mitigating circumstances notwithstanding. For starters, Johnson was playing with rookie Matthew Stafford, a quarterback with a big arm and plenty of nimbleness in the pocket, but who was starting in Week 1 only because of his lackluster competition. But when Stafford went down for six games with a shoulder injury, the quarterback play only got worse. And Johnson himself missed two games with a knee injury that lingered for much of the season. Finally, opposing defenses were tripleteaming Johnson at times as the Lions’ other weapons were unable to make them pay for it. To remedy this, Detroit brought in Nate Burleson to provide some big-play ability on the opposite side and drafted speedy tailback Jahvid Best. Despite the disastrous environment, Johnson still tied for fourth in the league with 11 targets inside the 10 (in 14 games), a staple of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s offense during his stops in Minnesota, Miami and St. Louis. And Johnson still managed 984 receiving yards in less than a full season. Johnson’s 2010 will depend on Stafford’s development as well as his teammates’ ability to keep defenses honest. If that happens, the sky’s still the limit for the fourth-year receiver who at 6-5, 239, and with elite deep speed is quite possibly the best athlete in the NFL.
When a second-year receiver ties for the league lead in touchdown catches and is fifth in yardage, he has a highly promising future. When that receiver accomplished this despite having Dan Orlovsky and the current incarnation of Daunte Culpepper throwing 73 percent of his passes, we’re looking at someone with the capacity to put up historic numbers should the team provide even average quarterbacking. With Culpepper slated to return (and No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford likely to take over at some point), average quarterbacking is probably at least a year away, so the historic numbers might have to wait – hence Johnson’s slotting at No. 2 and not as our easy top choice. But the situation almost certainly won’t be worse – there’s a good chance it’ll be better – and Johnson himself should develop in his third season. At 6-5, 239, Johnson’s physical tools are off the charts. Think Larry Fitzgerald with more size and speed or Randy Moss with more bulk and muscle. Johnson isn’t the polished route-runner that Fitzgerald is, and his focus has waned at times (nine drops, tied for fifth). But Johnson is already one of the league’s elite downfield threats (tied for second in the league with seven catches of 40-plus and 21 catches for 20 yards or more). Johnson needed to do much of his damage from deep as he was criminally underused in the red zone – 14 targets (tied for 29th) with six scores – and also near the goal line – two targets, zero scores. Some of that had to do with the Lions not getting to the red zone frequently, but offensive coordinator Jim Colletto’s conservative play calling from in close was also a factor. Enter new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan who loves to throw to his top receivers from in close – as Rams head coach in 2006 he targeted Torry Holt a league-leading 30 times from inside the 20, and six times from inside the five. In 2005 with Linehan as the Dolphins offensive coordinator, Chris Chambers led the league both in targets inside the red zone with 29 and inside the five with seven. And in 2004 the Vikings threw to Randy Moss and Marcus Robinson inside the five a combined 18 times. Linehan was not only the coordinator in Minnesota that year, but his quarterback throwing all those fades was none other than Culpepper. Expect Johnson to refine his skills, see more looks from in close and benefit from slightly better quarterbacking in 2009. And if Culpepper approaches anything close to his former level of play under Linehan (remember Kurt Warner was also left for dead), Johnson could rewrite the record books.
At 6-5, 235, and with 4.35 speed, Johnson was supposed to take the league by storm in the way Randy Moss had nine years earlier. Like Moss, Johnson was not only a physical freak, but he had great hands and tremendous leaping ability. And Johnson was coming into Mike Martz's pass happy system. Of course, it didn't turn out that way in part because Roy Williams, a star in his own right, also needed his looks, and in part because Johnson never really got going after suffering a bruised back in Week 3. The injury didn’t sound too severe, and Johnson missed only one game, but in April, Johnson told reporters he lacked "explosion" all season because of it, and the pain got so bad he was taking two Vicodin during some contests. It's hard to know what's a legitimate injury in the NFL, and what’s a case of a player being unable to play near the top of his game in pain, but on the chance it’s the former, it's worth gambling on a player of Johnson's once-in-a-decade talent, especially now that he's heading into his secondseason. Mike Martz is gone, and former offensive line coach Jim Colletto has taken over the offensive coordinator and presumably the play-calling duties, so that could mean more running plays. But the Lions spotty defense will force them to throw, and with Kevin Jones released and only Tatum Bell, Brian Calhoun and rookie Kevin Smith vying for carries, expect the Lions to air it out plenty.
At 6-5, 235, and timing out at 4.35 seconds in the 40, Johnson might already be the best athlete in the NFL. But the second overall pick in this season’s NFL draft has more going for him that just his physical capabilities. Johnson has great hands, tremendous leaping ability and hauled in 72 passes for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns during his junior year at Georgia Tech – making him perhaps the best pass-catching prospect to come into the league since Randy Moss. And with Johnson there are no questions about his character. In some ways, playing for the Lions might seem like an ideal fit. After all, Johnson is paired with offensive mastermind Mike Martz, and the Lions’ poor defense and turnover-prone quarterback should ensure that they’re forced to air the ball out a lot. But Roy Williams, an elite receiver in his own right, is the No. 1 option there, and Mike Furrey, who caught an NFC-leading 98 passes last year will also see his share of looks. Couple that with the learning curve that rookie receivers face when coming into the league (only six have topped 1,000 yards since 1995), and there’s a good chance Johnson will be overvalued on draft day. That said, we’re talking about a unique talent here, so the normal caveats about rookie receivers entering a crowded receiving corps might not apply. When Moss came into the league, he needed to carve out space behind a future Hall of Famer in Cris Carter, and an established starter in Jake Reed, but still managed 17 touchdowns and 17 plays of 40 yards or more. Those numbers would be almost impossible to duplicate, but if anyone could come close, it’s Johnson.