The question mark in running back Chris Johnson’s new(ish) nickname makes sense. Nobody knows.

Once known as CJ2K after rushing for over 2,000 yards in 2009, Chris Johnson has been dubbed CJ?K after failing to perform in 2011. But is it fair?  Should we really be this low on a player who once achieved such greatness?

When you look at the numbers, it’s clear that Chris Johnson isn’t getting the right kind of love from many in the fantasy football world. He may have been a frustration in 2011, but at the end of the day, he should still be looked at as one of the best running backs in the fake sport. Especially when you consider the competition at his position.

Chris Johnson has had an incredible career

Here are some things you should know about Chris Johnson:

1. He’s never had less than 1,400 total yards in a single season

2. He’s never caught less than 40 passes in a single season

3. He hasn’t missed a game over the last 3 seasons.

4. He’s never rushed for under 4 yards per carry in a season

5. He’s had double-digit touchdowns in 3 of his 4 NFL seasons

6. With standard scoring, he’s ranked as the 11th, 1st, 5th and 16th best fantasy running back in his four years in the league.

He’s a lot more consistent than a lot of running backs out there. And despite his size, he’s awfully durable. For the people that like less risk in the early rounds…couldn’t we say that about Johnson? I mean, just take a look at his numbers.

2011 was not as bad as you think

The owners that had Chris Johnson last year can’t stand him this year. Why? Because they paid a high price tag and got a mediocre starter out of it. They bought a pair of New Balances for the price of a pair of Nikes.

But it wasn’t as though the owner ended up with a pair of shower flip-flops. Chris Johnson still produced in 2011. It just wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t spectacular. It was, as I pointed out, mediocre.

Even if you were in a 10-team league, Chris Johnson was still as valuable as an RB2. While it may seem ridiculous to think that this is “valuable” considering the price you paid, you have to remember that flopping as a first round pick isn’t all the unheard of – from any position.

The real reason Chris Johnson didn’t live up to his value was not because of his yardage totals. As I pointed out, he had over 1,400 total yards. The reason he didn’t live up to the value, from a numbers standpoint, was because he couldn’t get into the end zone.

And as I wrote above, before last season, Johnson had double-digit touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. Last year he had four. You know who had that many rushing touchdowns? John Kuhn.

What I’m getting at is if he would’ve scored 2 or 3 more touchdowns, then we’re talking about a top-10 guy. And is 2 or 3 more touchdowns that unheard of for a guy that has scored double-digit touchdowns every season other than last?

The running back competition is weak

While many believe you need a quarterback more than ever in this year’s draft, the opposite is actually true. With the increase in running back-by-committee systems in the NFL, there’s a premium on running backs that are actually getting the bulk of a teams’ carries.

I wrote an article all about this at the end of June, but this is exactly why plenty of fantasy owners and experts have it backwards. You shouldn’t feel as though you’re reaching for a player like Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden or Matt Forte in the first round of the draft. You’re getting incredible value, because those types of players can’t be had in Round 2 and beyond.

Keep in mind that we should never compare how a quarterback performs to how a running back performs (unless, of course, there’s a flex spot that allows for both). This is the essence of value-based drafting. Of course, in most cases, a quarterback will score more points than a running back in fantasy. That’s irrelevant, though. Your goal is to create an advantage at each position in your lineup.  Your goal is to create value.

Getting a running back that is getting 250 to 300 carries is value. That’s going to be nearly 100 more carries than some of the running backs being drafted in Round 4. That’s significant at the position, especially when you consider a 4 yards per carry average or higher.

It’s supply and demand. The running back position is weak this year, so the ones that are for sure getting carries become more valuable. Chris Johnson is one of those guys.

He should be a top-5 pick

Now, of course every draft is different. Of course if you’re in a two-quarterback league, or one that gives quarterbacks 6 points per touchdown pass, you should get an elite one early. That’s what value dictates.

But, in almost all cases, Chris Johnson is worthy of a top-5 fantasy selection – even if you question his attitude.

You’re getting someone that is proven, doesn’t get hurt, and even in his “bad” season, he was a worthy starter in your fantasy lineup.

Haters are going to hate. And while they do, draft Chris Johnson with confidence.