Derrick Johnson remains fantasy-relevant in Kansas City
Derrick Johnson will continue to man the middle in Kansas City as the Chiefs re-signed him to a three-year, $21 million deal. Both parties wanted it to happen, with the Chiefs keeping another piece of their playoff roster and Johnson staying with the only team he’s ever played for. He entered the league in 2005 and will still be paid as a top-12 linebacker.
Johnson was one of the feel-good stories of 2015, picking up where he left off with his Pro-Bowl-level production a year after missing most of the season with an Achilles injury. He tallied another 100-tackle season, finishing with 116, while adding eight passes defended and ended the year as our sixth-best linebacker in all of football.
In IDP leagues, consistency is one of the most important traits in any player. Unlike offenses, which plan to use certain scheme and players, defensive players are inherently reactionary, and Johnson has been one of the more reliable IDP players for the past six years. With the exception of the lost 2014 season, Johnson had 100 tackles in each season and averaged eight passes defended. He’s also been a PFF top-10 linebacker each season since 2010. Whether he’s on the Chiefs or your fantasy team, the consistency Johnson displays is just as important as the production. And while he may not be a bona fide LB1 like he was a younger, he’s a high-end LB2 for at least one more year — maybe two. It’s also worth adding that although Johnson will be ranked as a top tier LB2, his scoring consistency on a weekly basis makes him very dependable and gives him additional value because he’s a safe bet to post double-digit fantasy points most weeks.
Johnson will be 33 when the season starts, and, despite one year removed, he did recently have Achilles surgery. With each year that passes, the chances are undoubtedly higher that Johnson will not be able to keep his excellent production going. But if he can do it at age 32, chances are good that he can produce something similar at 33. And with the kind of production Johnson has exhibited thus far, I wouldn’t bet against him.