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Tevin Coleman or Ty Johnson: Should you start either Jets RB in Week 12?

So it's come to this: Tevin Coleman or Ty Johnson in Week 12 against the Texans? Who can fantasy football managers trust?

I lost Michael Carter last week. Maybe some of you did, too. Or maybe you didn’t, but you pounced on one of his potential replacements. So now the question is, can we trust Tevin Coleman or Ty Johnson in fantasy football in Week 12 against the Texans?

Should fantasy managers start Tevin Coleman in Week 12?

Full disclosure: I picked up Johnson last week and, after a considerable amount of research and soul-searching, I passed on Coleman. So if you have only five seconds to read this article, that admission sums up what I’m about to say. If you want to understand the “why,” then read on.

With impressive rookie Carter on the shelf, the Jets are expected to utilize Coleman more heavily in Week 12 against Houston. Former fourth-string RB Dontrell Hilliard looked good for the Titans against the Texans last week, so we can imagine a scenario where Coleman can garner 10+ points. Or at least, that’s what many experts want us to believe.

The question is whether we are conflating the Coleman of old with old Coleman.

Early in his career in Atlanta, he was a fantastic fantasy streamer playing behind RB1 Devonta Freeman. A combination of solid running, pass-catching chops, and TD opportunities gave Coleman weekly value. But his career started to decline when he went to San Francisco in 2019, culminating in a forgettable 1.9 yards per carry on 53 carries in 2020.

Zach Wilson’s return doesn’t help matters

This year, Coleman has been merely pedestrian on 35 touches for the Jets. With passing-game specialist Johnson in the fold, Coleman has been used primarily on the ground. If this continues today, his upside will be severely capped. Although Houston has yielded a healthy 15 rushing TDs, reinstalling the not-yet-NFL-ready Zach Wilson at quarterback could set back New York’s offense.

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I would caution managers not to jump on the Coleman train unless you desperately need a TD-dependent RB3/4. He’s more likely to score 6-7 points today than 12-14. It largely comes down to whether he finds the end zone. In a little more than five games, a Wilson-led offense has resulted in only 7 touchdowns. Coleman’s odds of breaking through are slim.

Should fantasy managers start Ty Johnson in Week 12?

I’m starting Johnson today because my options are limited, having just lost Carter, CeeDee Lamb, and A.J. Brown. He’s a dart throw, as I’m depending almost entirely on 4+ receptions to carry him to RB3 production.

No one knows how he’ll be utilized alongside Coleman. What we do know is that Johnson has run poorly (3.4 ypc), but his 25 receptions have kept him relevant in fantasy conversations.

One caution: he’s caught only 25 of 38 targets (66%). That is an abysmal catch rate for a running back. It’s unclear how much this is on him versus his subpar quarterbacks. But it’s worth noting that he’s only 7-for-15 (47%) with Wilson under center. Not a good sign.

Still, game script and a questionably talented Coleman should favor at least a few targets for Johnson. He’s the ultimate “I don’t have a better option” fantasy prayer. Hope for 8+ points, and be happy if you get only 6-7.

BJ Rudell is the Fantasy Football Director for Pro Football Network. You can read all of BJ’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @BJRudell.

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