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Johnson reports; so what's his value?

By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Now that Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson has reported to training camp, we're about to find out how much of an influence his holdout had on his average draft position (ADP).

Johnson's ADP in fantasyfootballcalculator.com mock drafts is 45.4, 18th among receivers, which seems a little low for a player of Johnson's caliber. It's already started to rise now that Johnson has reported to camp, jumping two full picks since July 22.

The question is: how high should it go?

Johnson has averaged 110.5 receptions and 1,502.5 yards per season the past two years, but he comes with some risk.

- He's now 33 years old and was plagued by injuries in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011.

- He has to learn a new offense after sitting out OTAs and minicamp.

- He's scored nine touchdowns combined the past two seasons, and all five of his scores in 2013 came in two games.

- Ryan Fitzpatrick is now his quarterback.

Still, I don't see much difference between Johnson and the four veteran receivers going ahead of him -- Pierre Garcon (37.1 ADP), Victor Cruz (38.5), Larry Fitzgerald (38.5) and Wes Welker (42.4).

Johnson had seven more fantasy points than Garcon last year and Garcon isn't going to touch his 2013 numbers (181 catches, 113 catches, 1,346 yards) this season.

Cruz had 1,536 yards in 2011, but he's averaged 1,045 the past two years and caught just four touchdowns in 14 games last season after grabbing 10 the year before.

Fitzgerald has played all 16 games in each of the past two seasons, but he hasn't topped 1,000 yards since 2011 and will have to deal with increased competition for targets from Michael Floyd.

Welker is one concussion away from retirement and while he may have more touchdowns than Johnson, he'll also max out around 1,000 receiving yards.

Cordarrelle Patterson (40.8), who is also being drafted in that range, is a wild card because he has more upside than Johnson but also far more downside. It's a matter of preference if you want to take a chance on him or go with one of the proven guys, but if you prefer the veterans Johnson is as good a choice as any of the other four players I mentioned.

Fitzpatrick may actually be an upgrade on what the Texans had at quarterback last year. Matt Schaub averaged 6.5 yards per attempt and threw 14 interceptions and Case Keenum completed just 54.2 percent of his passes.

Fitzpatrick will throw his share of picks but at least he can be counted on for a completion percentage around .600.

Bill O'Brien's offense is different than Gary Kubiak's, but Johnson is still going to see 150-170 targets and catch 100 passes if healthy.

While Johnson is unlikely to hit the 10-TD mark for the first time in his career this season, there's at least a good chance he'll have more than five.

Health is really the only major concern fantasy owners should have with Johnson, though even that isn't a dealbreaker because he played 16 games in back-to-back years.

Johnson isn't quite in the WR1 class, but he's still a high-end WR2 who can masquerade as a WR1 for fantasy owners who don't draft a receiver in the first two or three rounds.

07/25 19:58:31 ET


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