Fred Jackson could have been the best fantasy football running back last season if he hadn’t gotten hurt. He broke a bone in his right leg during his 10th game of the season, ending his year.
Teams that were banking on Jackson to carry them to the playoffs were devastated. CJ Spiller owners, on the other hand, were given hope.
Spiller finished the second half of the season with a favorable fantasy score. He had double-digit performances in 4 of his 6 starts, including a 28-point beat down against Miami. There’s no doubt that he lifted many teams to a fantasy championship.
Going into 2012, Spiller is leaving the board anywhere from the 5th to 7th round in most leagues. Jackson, on the other hand, is leaving a couple rounds earlier. Do these ADPs make sense?
I’m not expecting the same kind of season from…
Fred Jackson. And no, it’s not because he’s 31 years-old. If you look at his career, he didn’t start taking NFL snaps until he was 26. His age in carries (not counting the arena league and NFL Europe) is equivalent to a 27 year-old in the NFL. That’s why age doesn’t bother me.
What bothers me is that Spiller performed at a high level with Jackson out last season. And what bothers me is that head coach Chan Gailey has already said, “I can promise you this, we will not make everybody happy.”
The Bills plan to use both backs this season, as they don’t want to duplicate last year’s injury to Jackson. And with that, Jackson’s value drops.
Something favoring Jackson is that Spiller, while the full-time starter over the last 6 games last year, still didn’t receive more than 20 carries in a game. There will still be touches for Jackson. I just think it’s a stretch for us to think that he’s going to continue a top-5 running back pace.
Do I like Jackson this year? Sure. I just think getting into the top-10 at running back will be tough.
I’m still probably not going to draft…
CJ Spiller. He’s been ranked as a top-24 running back, meaning in a 12-team league, we’d expect him to be a starter on a fantasy team.
I think there’s too much risk involved. Even more than the risk associated with Fred Jackson.
Spiller is entering his third season, and is more of an investment for the Bills given they can get rid of Jackson without a huge cap hit before the 2013 or 2014 season. I think they’ll play Spiller slow, use him as much as they can as a wide receiver, and feed him 10-12 carries, at most, per game.
And that, to me, isn’t worthy of a starting running back. You need touches at the running back position. I guess if you’re PPR league favors receptions considerably, then I’d consider Spiller given his catching ability. Otherwise, I don’t think the touches line up to anything past a flex play.
I’d consider drafting…
The Bills’ defense. Woah. I’m going to talk about defense.
The way I draft defenses is by looking at the team’s Week 1 and Week 2 schedule, not by the pure talent on the team. Why? Well, I’d rather play the waiver wire for match-up. Why waste a choice on a defense early on in the draft, and feel the need to play them against teams like the Packers, Lions or Patriots. (Although, I must say, the Bills made some solid moves over the off-season and I do expect the defense to improve drastically.)
If you look a the Bills’ schedule, they get the Jets Week 1, the Chiefs Week 2, and the Browns Week 3. We may not know what we’ll get from the Jets, but I wouldn’t think of them as a real threat to put up well over 20 points during Week 1. The Chiefs will be better on offense, but they’re still led by the inconsistent arm of Matt Cassel. And the Browns are the Browns.
Never draft your defense before the second to last round, but if the Bills are there during that pick, get them. You could really get an advantage early on in the season.
The one word to describe the 2012 Bills is…
Ratio. This team, when it comes to fantasy, comes down to the two running backs, CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson. Stevie Johnson is there, yes, but the true value on this team is in the backfield.
I say “ratio” because you can get value if you can accurately predict how Chan Gailey is going to split these two backs’ time. If you truly believe that Jackson will continue to get his looks, then he should be valued as a low-end RB1. If you saw CJ Spiller’s performance with Jackson out last year as a threat, then I’d probably just stay away from both. You need touches with your running backs to win.