Beware the dreaded "contract problems"

If Chris Johnson doesn't show for training camp, it has to concern fantasy owners.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Nothing makes a fan or fantasy owners' skin crawl more than hearing that a player is having "contract problems" with his team. He may still be under contract, but hearing that he and the team are having trouble getting it down on paper makes it much more difficult to evaluate his fantasy value. This is particularly troubling when the player misses mini camps and/or summer camp.

For a perfect example of why this situation is so troubling, just remember back to 2007 when Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson was trying to get a deal done with management.

Johnson had just come off a fantastic season - 1,789 yards rushing with 17 rushing touchdowns and 11 100-yard games. An additional 410 yards receiving on 41 catches and two more scores. He was the focal point of the Chiefs offense.

"LJ" missed most of summer camp at River Falls and did not sign the contract until August 21st. He reported the next day, but didn't make his preseason debut until August 30th - three rushes for 12 yards. Johnson was not ready when the season began and started the year with rushing totals of 43, 55 and 42 yards in the season's first three contests. He also didn't get the ball into the endzone. Finally in Week 4, Johnson posted a 123-yard day and owners thought he was back into form. Weeks 6 and 7 saw him post 100-yard days and score even while working through some hamstring problems. Then in November he injured his ankle and his fantasy season was essentially over. He didn't play after Week 9 and finished the year with 559 yards rushing, 186 yards receiving and four scores. Not very good production from a 2007 top-three fantasy selection.

There are a number of players who could end up in this category in July, one in particular, Chris Johnson who will either be the No.1 or No.2 player selected on Draft Day (Current ADP 1.5).

Chris Johnson had a fantastic year in 2009 - 2,006 yards rushing, 503 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns. He was the 2009 TSN Fantasy Player of the Year. Both sides agree that Johnson's $550,000 base salary, which is less than the team pays third stringer Alvin Pearman, is out of line with a top running back and both sides are working to rectify the situation. Still, if Johnson doesn't show for training camp, it has to concern fantasy owners and Titans fans.

NFL Network's Warren Sapp has stated that he thinks Johnson will hold out if he doesn't get a new deal. Perhaps he believes this after Johnson said "I think I deserve to be the highest paid running back in the league, or even the highest paid offensive player besides the quarterback."

Hopefully, Johnson and the team will work out their problems because I loved having the Tennessee star on my roster last season as he helped me to two fantasy regular season titles and one championship. I'll be watching the situation carefully throughout the summer or until he signs on the dotted line because it could be a major determining factor on whether Johnson is the No.1 overall pick or not.

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