C.J. Spiller is definitely facing some challenges heading into his third NFL season. His biggest challenge will be fending off Fred Jackson, who will certainly command some touches. In 2011, Jackson played like a top 5RB for much of the 2011 fantasy football season… he totaled 100 yards rush/rec 8 times out of his 10-played games… In Weeks 2-6, he scored 6 rushing touchdowns. Of course, Jackson fractured his right fibula in Week 11 and that’s when Spiller took over as the team’s starter.
How did Spiller perform as the team’s starter during that second-half of 2011? Over the last five games of the 2011 NFL season, Spiller scored 5TDs and totaled 100 or more yards on five different occasions.
Essentially, both runners, depending on your scoring format, cranked out top 3-5 fantasy running back numbers during the time frames in which they started for the Bills last year. So, who should fantasy owners count on in 2012? Could the presence of both runners make it impossible for either to be a stud in 2012?
Because Jackson is 31 and Spiller is 24, it’s safe to say that the odds are against Jackson ever dominating again… Take a look at our 30-Year-Old Running Back article, which reveals that the age of 30 is the year of decline for elite running backs. Whether it is due to injury, situation or deterioration of talent, a runner’s 30-age season is the age of decline. While it’s possible that the presence of both rushers makes it difficult for either back to produce top 5-10 fantasy football numbers in 2012, my guess is that Spiller has the best shot at playing that role. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick recently said that he believes that Spiller is set to “make a big jump” in 2012. “I think the biggest thing with what he did at the end of the year last year, was he got his confidence,” said Fitzpatrick. “You just see how comfortable he is in this system now. He’s telling guys, receivers that they’re lined up wrong and letting them know. … I think he’s ready to make a big jump.”
Clearly this is a good topic to debate, as some may suggest that fantasy owners stay clear of this situation in 2012. Others might suggest that owning both backs is a secure situation, as the Bills will likely use just one of the two rushers most of the time, and owning both guarantees fantasy production. At the right cost, I lean toward the stance that owning both rushers could payoff this season… The best news about investing in Spiller in 2012 is that his ADP is often in that 6th- to 7th-round range, which makes him a low-risk/high-reward!