Over/Under: Calvin Johnson

Eric Olinger

Every off-season there are players who become devalued in the fantasy football community for little to no reason. I think it’s because we talk about this stuff year round and get bored. I also think this is what happened in regards to the perceived decline of Calvin Johnson. Granted, 2014 had its stretch of rough patches while he dealt with a bum ankle, but in the 11 healthy games he played and wasn’t merely a decoy, he managed to rack up 68 receptions for 1,058 yards and eight touchdowns. If you extrapolate those numbers out over an entire season he would have finished with 99 receptions for 1,538 yards and 11.5 touchdowns.

Let’s put the over/under for Megatron’s 2015 season at 80 receptions for 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns. I’ll take the over.

Over the last seven seasons, no wide receiver with at least five years experience has averaged more fantasy points in PPR leagues than Calvin Johnson with 284.49 per season, 26 more than Brandon Marshall in second place. Only Dez Bryant (.75 touchdowns per game) has averaged more touchdowns than Megatron’s .67 per game. Outside of known PPR superstars, Marshall and Wes Welker, Calvin is near the top in total receptions as well.


That is every awesome feat he’s accomplished in the past seven seasons, but we don’t get fantasy points for a sweet resume’. He’ll turn 30 years old at the end of September and he’s coming off a season where he was dealing with nagging lower leg injuries, so why should we invest heavily in him now? Quite simply, 30 isn’t the death sentence for wide receivers like it is for running backs. Elite wide receivers can maintain their level of play past age 35 and there isn’t any good reason to believe Calvin’s production will drop significantly.

[inlinead]In Matthew Stafford, he has one of the league’s most fearless gunslingers willing to throw him the ball no matter the coverage. It’s not always the best for Stafford’s game but Calvin wins a lot more of those than he loses. For the first time in his career, he has a legitimate running mate in Golden Tate, who he himself proved plenty capable of being the team’s WR1 when Calvin went down with injury. According to Evan Silva at Rotoworld, “Tate’s 16 game pace stats in the five games Calvin Johnson was limited in or missed last season were 125 receptions, 1,917 yards and ten touchdowns. In the 11 games where Megatron played at full tilt, Tate’s pace stats were 87 receptions, 1,065 and two touchdowns.” Yet people still don’t give Tate the respect he deserves. The Lions also have promising second year pass catching tight end Eric Ebron to draw more attention away from the outside by busting the seam and the whole team has a season of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s offense under their belts as well. And don’t forget they have everyone’s preseason darling, rookie running back Ameer Abdullah, coming out of the backfield. This offense has a legitimate weapon at every level on offense. They also only face four top-10 pass defenses based on last year’s stats and favorably have St. Louis, New Orleans and San Francisco in the fantasy playoffs.

The Lions defensive front also took a massive blow this off-season when Ndamukong Suh signed with Miami and Nick Fairley left for St. Louis. Signing Haloti Ngata was nice but he’s not single handedly replacing the play of Suh and Fairley. This defense is going to put the Lions in a lot of high scoring contests and nobody abuses garbage time quite like Stafford and Johnson. Think back to week eight of the 2013 season against Dallas when Stafford and Johnson hooked up 14 times for a mind boggling 329 yards and a score. When they’re in sync, he’s practically unstoppable.

In Ryan McDowell’s latest mock draft data, Johnson was being selected 14th overall, tenth among wide receivers, with an average draft position of 13.67, down from 2.17 last August. It’s hard to call someone being selected at the top of the second round a value, but I would take him over Randall Cobb and Alshon Jeffery, two receivers being taken just ahead of him because I believe Calvin has the ability to finish as the WR1 and Cobb and Jeffery simply do not.

What do you think? Will Calvin Johnson finish “over” or “under” 80 receptions for 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @OlingerIDP.

Where do you stand? Would you take the over or the under on receptions (80), yards (1,300) and touchdowns (12).


eric olinger
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