Will C.J. Spiller be Held Down by Fred Jackson Again in 2014?
Mar 7, 2014
.By Matt Southall, @mattsouthall22014 Offseason Fantasy Football: News, Updates….There are things in life that just don’t pan-out the way you and everyone else thought they would. Every individual set of circumstances is unique and has an infinite amount of variables that are tough for anyone to accurately predict. This is especially true in today’s NFL, and coinciding is the game we call fantasy football..One most recent example of this type of situation is the Buffalo Bills of 2013. The question marks of uncertainty surrounded rookie QB E.J. Manuel and the young WRs the Bills selected in 2013, but the expectations regarding the Bills’ running game was a given to most fantasy owners. The bulk of the touches and the title of offensive workhorse were supposed to be awarded to C.J. Spiller, and the older, and “fading,” Fred Jackson would get the leftovers. Sometimes things just don’t happen the way everyone thought they would..Spiller was entering his fourth year in the league since being drafted ninth overall, and Jackson was a 32 year-old back who had only played in 10 games in each of the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Spiller’s touches dwarfed Jacksons in 2012, 207 to 115, and Spiller’s outstanding six yards-per-carry average and 1,703 total yards vaulted him into the upper echelon of RB rankings for many fantasy owners. It was finally Spiller’s year to get the workload that could make him a dominant force in all formats, and his ADP reflected those expectations in fantasy drafts. Bills OC Nathaniel Hackett made waves in early Aug. 2013 when asked about Spiller’s role. “We’re going to give him the ball until he throws up,” Hackett said. “So he’s either got to tap out or throw up on the field. Let’s just put it that way.”.Straight from the horse’s mouth, put in plain and graphic detail. The pieces were all in place and Spiller was set to capitalize on his new OC’s belief in his abilities to be their main guy. How could this not be Spiller’s year? Fast forward to present day and fantasy owners who drafted Spiller (likely in the first round) will tell you things did not happen the way they were expecting..The Bills’ distribution of carries was virtually a 50/50 split between Spiller and Jackson through 16 games. Spiller ran the ball 201 times compared to Jackson’s 207, and neither RB rushed more than 23 times in any 2013 contest. While Spiller finished with 927 yards rushing to Jackson’s 896, Fred scored nine touchdowns on the ground to C.J.’s two. Jackson also surprised many Bills’ fans by catching 47 balls out of the backfield compared to Spiller’s 33. These post-season stats are far from the preseason numbers that fantasy owners anticipated. So what caused the Bills to abandon their grand scheme to get Spiller the rock as much as possible? Let’s take a look at the stats through Buffalo’s first four games:.Spiller- Rushing: 66 carries, 230 yards, zero TDs, 3.48 yards-per-carry. Receiving: nine receptions, 29 yards, 3.2 yards-per-catch..Jackson- Rushing: 48 carries, 256 yards, two TDs, 5.3 yards-per-carry. Receiving: 13 receptions, 113 yards, 8.7 yards-per-catch..The Bills coaching staff gifted Spiller the opportunity through the season’s first quarter, and Jackson simply outperformed his younger counterpart despite receiving fewer touches and earned his share of playing time. So much to Spiller’s fantasy investor’s dismay, the two backs shared the Bills carries the rest of the season..As the 2014 season begins to take shape, the Bills RB situation is surrounded by questions that weren’t there this time last year. Will Spiller be named the starter again entering the season? Will Jackson be given the same volume of carries that he received last year? Who will end the season with the most touches?.Common sense and history will tell us that the first RB to seize the opportunity will be given the majority of the touches. Coaches will put the players on the field that give them the best chance to win. The Bills are no different..Jackson proved he had something left in the tank in his seventh season, and Spiller has his youth, supreme talent, and the potential to be a game-changing player. The possibility of the two RBs splitting carries in 2014 is present, and one would be foolish to think otherwise. Jackson is entering the final year of his contract, and there is no reason for the Bills not to give him the ball if he can play as well as he did in 2013..Those who draft Spiller in 2014 with RB1 expectations will be disappointed for the second year in a row. Jackson will take away valuable third-down touches and those oh-so-crucial goal-line carries from Spiller again this year, which severely diminishes his overall value. Spiller certainly won’t be touted as highly as he was in 2013, but there will be drafts where he is taken in the second or third rounds. If things remain the way they are looking at this point, Spiller shouldn’t be taken until the fourth or fifth round in redraft leagues depending on the format. Don’t get sucked in to the trap of what 2014 “could be” for Spiller..Matt Southall is a contributor to many prestigious sites dedicated to the wonderful game of fantasy football. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+..