Colts Sign Andre Johnson
From a fantasy standpoint, the immediate implication is that Johnson’s situation improved drastically. While T.Y. Hilton should be the primary target in Indianapolis, the upgrade from Ryan Fitzpatrick and company to Andrew Luck should pay immediate dividends, as Johnson is likely to take Reggie Wayne’s snaps in the overall scheme of things.
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Volume will also come into play for Johnson. During the 2014 regular season, the Colts threw a total of 614 times. By contrast, the Texans threw the ball 455 times over the same span. A declining Reggie Wayne saw 110 targets, while Johnson saw 141. Johnson should see at least the same amount of targets as last year because of the volume differential, and the quality of targets will be higher.
Johnson was also a top 20 receiver in terms of yards per pass route run last year, with 1.92 yards per pass route run, and his PFF rating had him near the top third of all wide receivers. Perhaps most importantly, as T.Y. Hilton excelled from the slot position, Johnson can take snaps at the X or the Z position, allowing him to stay on the field in most situations. Johnson is also still a top half guy in terms of run blocking (not that the Colts did much of that).
So what are the downsides with Johnson? One, he’s getting older. This isn’t the same guy who had 1,600 yards in 2012. Though he’s still good, he’s no longer in his prime. Two, even more so than last year in Houston, Johnson won’t be the top dog in the pecking order, as Hilton is the Colts’ best receiver, and Donte Moncrief has flashed potential. While Johnson should start off taking No. 2 receiver snaps over Moncrief, you never know what may happen if Moncrief keeps progressing by year end. The Colts have also fielded a bad offensive line for Luck’s career, and if that continues and something unfortunate happens to Luck, Johnson’s value hits the tank. However, that can be said about many receivers, so it’s a very minor nitpick.
If Luck throws for 4,700 yards again, Johnson seems like a safe bet for another solid WR3 type season with sneaky, “unsexy” upside to slip into WR2 ranks. Hakeem Nicks is gone, so Luck’s near 600 attemptss in the regular season have to go somewhere. If Johnson sees a tick over 20% of Luck’s production from last year, an 80-catch, 1,000-yard season is within reach. And you’ll take that from your safe, old man receiver all day.
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