In about 24 +/- hours, there may be a complete Josh Johnson frenzy. Here is how it might occur:
1) Josh Freeman is questionable with a shoulder injury. He is probably 60-40 to play this week, in our estimation.
2) After a train-wreck of a Tampa Bay season, and a Josh Freeman nightmare of 12 TD/16 INT...we wonder if the Bucs would like to take a bigger glimpse of what they have in Josh Johnson.
3) If Johnson is named the starter this week, the mainstream sports media is going to do their one inch "deep-dive" of research (if they bother at all). When/if they take a look at Johnson's bio, they are going to see a QB that threw for 43 TDs and 1 INT at the University of San Diego in his senior season (2007) in 10 games. Then the thought may also occur that he is a running QB, and 4.4-to-4.5 40-time type of runner.
When the mainstream does the math of gawking at the college passing totals, considering the running aspect a la Tebow or Newton (weaker NFL passing QBs, but are more elite for Fantasy Football purposes)...the story will be a one-liner something along the lines of, "hey, this guy threw for 43 TDs and just 1 INT in college, and he can run, watch-out." That surface reporting Johnson may set off a Fantasy Football free agent frenzy...and the thing is, it will actually be onto something.
...or the mainstream media will just discount Johnson as a QB they haven't really heard of, do no homework, and gloat about what a play the Titans-Defense is.
We think if Josh Johnson ever gets steady playing time as a starter, the Buccaneers fans will rally to the exciting backup QB and re-consider Josh Freeman as their franchise QB...setting off a QB debate. From a Fantasy Football perspective, Johnson may save the season for those in a QB crisis this week.
Let's take a look at Josh Johnson, and what the possibilities might be...for at least this one week....
Josh Johnson the college years...
I have a feeling that Josh Johnson is going to set off a minor whirlwind of attention (again, should Freeman be ruled out) when people look at his college stats again. A Senior season of 68.4% Comp Pct, 298.8 yards per game passing, 72.6 yards per game rushing, a passer rating of 198.3, with the 43 TD/1 INT total...is simply amazing. I think we will hear "43 TD/1 INT" all day Sunday morning, and some of that talk beginning in places just a few moments after Freeman is announced as out (if he is).
It just wasn't one great season in college. In his Junior year, Johnson threw for 35 TDs and 5 INTs, and 31 TD/8 INT the year before that. In three years as a starter, Johnson compiled 109 TDs and just 14 INTs. He also ran for another 17 TDs.
We do have to keep in perspective that Johnson rolled these stats up against the likes of teams like Butler (this isn't college basketball), Dayton, Davidson, Drake, etc. We also have to admit that no matter what the level; Johnson had video game-esque stats...something beyond special, but still hard to process/comprehend their value.
Johnson was an NFL Combine invitee in 2008, and ran with 4.5 40-speed...registering in the 4.4's on at least one run. Standing 6'2+ with speed and a surprisingly stronger than expected arm, plus the big college stats, landed Johnson as a 5th-Round NFL Draft pick. Which is a little surprising (low) given the world's affinity for mobile QBs. In 2008, Vince Young had come off of two solid seasons as the Titans QB. Perhaps it was a small college QB bias, maybe something deeper...we don't know.
Josh Johnson the Tampa Bay years...
Johnson sat in 2008, not seeing the field. In 2009, he was pressed into to duty for four starts...and unimpressive duty at that -- 50.4% Comp Pct, 4 TD/8 INT. In Week-6 against Carolina, Johnson had 5 fumbles (1 lost).
In 2010, the Buccaneers drafted Raheem Morris's K-State buddy Josh Freeman...and thus Johnson has been relegated to a gimmick player, taking a few snaps here & there. One thing to note in 2010, in limited time, Johnson completed 14 of 16 passes (87.5%) during these on & off gimmick opportunities. Johnson started the season 8 for 8 passing, including 6 for 6 in Week-3 against Pittsburgh in garbage time.
This season, Johnson has barely been a gimmick...getting into just a few games for a total of 7 throws and 5 rushing attempts.
Johnson has become a mostly forgotten entity in the NFL/Tampa Bay.
Josh Johnson to Fantasy Football Metrics...
The question naturally would be, "what does your QB formula say about Johnson?" The answer is, sadly, "incomplete." We do not have enough good data on Johnson to make that call, based on the (lack of) strength of opponents we need to evaluate. If we stretched it a little bit, Johnson would "break the bank" statistically with his turbo-charged numbers. Physically, he would draw some minor red-flags. It appears, he also scored below our desired levels on the Wonderlic. Overall, we would be intrigued by the performance numbers, but would mark him down physically and mentally...and he would then sit in the middle of our QB ratings, not a bust, but not as a projected NFL star either.
The problem with writing him off as an NFL QB/passer is, that's an evaluation for an NFL franchise view. For Fantasy Football, Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, and Michael Vick are proving passing is secondary...they will "rush' their way into our hearts/Fantasy starting lineups.
What can we expect from Johnson for just this one week?
If we look back to 2009, when Johnson was a starter (and theoretically at his NFL worst/least experienced), we would see the following (4 pts per pass TD):
Week-4 @ WAS = 10.3 FF points on 106 yards passing, 1 TD/1 INT, 41 yards rushing
Week-5 @ PHI = 15.6 FF points on 240 yards passing, 50 pass attempts, 2 TD/3 INT, 40 yards rushing
Week-6 vs. CAR = 6.4 FF points on 147 yards passing, 0 TD/1 INT, 45 yards rushing
In Week-7, he faced Belichick and was not good...I'll give him a pass on that.
If you look at the 2009 season numbers above, they are very Tim Tebow-esque...which is now, suddenly, in vogue. However, we are now two seasons of experience later with Johnson. Johnson also is an unrestricted Free Agent after this season -- if given the chance this week, Johnson is playing for "all the marbles." A crappy game as an emergency starter this week, and he's probably back as the lowly paid TB backup in 2012. A "magical" game, even if with a lot of running output and lower passing, could earn him millions.
We would expect Johnson to roll 50+ yards rushing against the Titans this week, and then cross-your-fingers on what the passing would look like. Should Johnson put up something in the range of 200 passing yards and 1 TD/1 INT, then you are looking at around 15 Fantasy Football points. However, the upside exists that Johnson plays/runs for his (financial) life, and puts up something more like 60-70-80+ yards rushing...and facing a Titans team that may not be prepared for what Johnson might throw at them (they did just face Cam successfully a few weeks ago, so maybe they are ready...). Johnson could do something very interesting for just one week.
We wouldn't expect anyone to bench Eli, Romo, Stafford, etc for a chance at this Josh Johnson brass ring. We would consider this if you are looking at Ponder, Hasselbeck, Flacco or Freeman, etc...and you need a jolt in your lineup this week.
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