CHRIS JOHNSON'S season of misery seems to be coming to an appropriate conclusion. He has an ankle injury that has limited him in practice this week, though indications are he will play tomorrow against visiting Jacksonville.
"C.J. was limited, but he looked pretty good running," Titans coach Mike Munchak said yesterday. "He did some reps, and if there's no soreness for him [today], I would assume he is in good shape."
Just in case, Tennessee has Jamie Harper warming up in the proverbial bullpen as Johnson owners prepare to spike the eggnog.
"We're assuming Harper will get more carries than he normally would just because we're assuming C.J. will be somewhat not himself," Munchak said on Wednesday. "If for some reason C.J. is not even able to suit up . . . I would think we'd want Harper to get the majority of the carries depending on how much we run the ball."
Johnson has been sprinkling enough 25-yard games among some of his larger efforts to drive fantasy owners nuts. He followed up his 153-yard, two-touchdown effort in Week 13 with 23 yards against the Saints and 55 against the Colts. He got hurt at the end of a 35-yard run against Indy.
David Akers needs three field goals to break the record for most made in a single season. Which kicker set the record in 2005? Hint: He is still active, though with a different team.
PLAY 'EM AND PRAY
Green Bay will clinch the NFC's No. 1 overall seed if the 49ers lose or tie at Seattle tomorrow. The problem for fantasy owners is that the Packers will know their fate long before they take the field against the Bears on Sunday. Green Bay could decide to play their starters sparingly or not at all.
Over the next few days, the Packers understandably will dismiss the issue as the rest of the world worries how many passes Aaron Rodgers will throw and whether the Pack's injury-riddled offensive line can keep Rodgers from getting killed.
All fantasy fans can do is hope either San Fran wins or Green Bay does the right thing and allows its starters to play at least three quarters. Is it really fair to ask 73,000 fans to come to Lambeau Field on Christmas night for Matt Flynn?
* Quarterbacks: Nice effort by 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to campaign for Alex Smith as a Pro Bowler. Smith could get there as alternate after some injuries/indifference, but not ahead of Detroit's Matthew Stafford or Atlanta's Matt Ryan. If Tony Romo gets Dallas to 10 wins, he'll have an argument, too. Obviously, we're talking about the third spot on the Pro Bowl roster behind Messrs Rodgers and Brees . . . Don't just throw Mark Sanchez into your lineup because the Giants pass defense is ranked 29th. Big Blue dropped in the rankings like a stone after getting torched by Brees (363 yards and five TDs), Rodgers (369 and four) and Romo (321 and four). Against middling quarterbacks like Sanchez, they've been OK numbers-wise.
* Running backs: Ray Rice goes up against a Browns run defense he pounded for 204 yards only 3 weeks ago. Anybody who has him and is still playing ought to put an extra five in the collection jar . . . C.J. Spiller is not a 20-carry guy and the Bills know it. Continue to use him as a flex or a low RB2, but don't rank him any higher. Spiller should get a fantasy start over the Steven Jacksons and Peyton Hillis of the world, though . . . The Chiefs have allowed only one 100-yard rusher all season (Shonn Greene, Week 14). Oakland's Michael Bush is their opponent this week.
* Wide receivers: San Diego's Malcom Floyd should be considered a low WR2 for this week's game at Detroit, which has been hit hard by injuries to its secondary . . . After catching nine touchdown passes in 2009, DeSean Jackson had six last season and just three this year. His last 100-yard game was in Week 4.
* Kickers: Get Billy Cundiff out of your lineup. His ineffectiveness lately has the Ravens going with Shayne Graham, signed Wednesday, instead.
Neil Rackers set the NFL record for most field goals made in a season. Rackers was 40-for-42 (95.2 percent) in 2005. Akers is 38-for-44 (86.4) this year.
Cam 4K: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton needs 278 passing yards to become the first quarterback with 4,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards in the same season. Here's a look at the players who have posted 3,000/500 in a season:
Daunte Culpepper, 2002: 3,853 pass, 609 rush, 4,462 total 28 TDs
Randall Cunningham, 1988: 3,808 pass, 624 rush, 4,432 total, 30 TDs
Randall Cunningham, 1990: 3,466 pass, 942 rush, 4,408 total, 35 TDs
Cam Newton, 2011: 3,722 pass, 609 rush, 4,331 total, 30 TDs
Randall Cunningham, 1989: 3,400 pass, 621 rush, 4,021 total, 25 TDs
Steve Young, 1992: 3,465 pass, 537 rush, 4,002 total, 29 TDs
Donovan McNabb, 2000: 3,365 pass, 629 rush, 3,994 total, 27 TDs
Rich Gannon, 2000: 3,430 pass, 529 rush, 3,959 total, 32 TDs
Steve McNair, 1998: 3,228 pass, 559 rush, 3,787 total, 19 TDs
Michael Vick, 2010: 3,018 pass, 676 rush, 3,694 total, 30 TDss
Kordell Stewart, 2001: 3,109 pass, 537 rush, 3,646 total, 19 TDs
Weather report: Weather.com expects rain for San Francisco at Seattle and a chance of rain for Oakland at Kansas City, St. Louis at Pittsburgh and Minnesota at Washington. They're calling for snow for Denver at Buffalo.
FROM YESTERDAY'S CHAT
Q: Championship game this week. Need to know which RB to start alongside Shady McCoy: Helu, Turner or Beanie Wells. Yahoo! predicts Helu.
A: I know Turner's been disappointing lately, but I'd go with him over Helu.
Q: I'm in the finals with a record, including playoffs, of 11-4. I've never participated in FF until this season. No question, just bragging.
A: Very nice. Hope your stocking is filled with multiple 100-yard games.
Q: What do you expect from Felix Jones against the Eagles' D?
A: 65 yards rushing. Maybe three or four receptions.
Q: Which CJ do you trust more: Spiller or 1K?
A: Of those two, I'd play Chris Johnson.
Q: Would you start Mike Vick or Tim Tebow? Championship on the line.
A: Vick. Love the way they've gotten Brent Celek involved. Tebow's not a bad second choice, but I'd go with Vick this week.
Look for the fantasy chat with Ed Barkowitz each Thursday at noon. For a full transcript of yesterday's chat, visit philly.com/dnfantasychat.
Ed Barkowitz, who is thrilled for fantasy hockey fans that Claude Giroux is back, has been writing about fantasy football since 2001.