Questions have been asked throughout the past few weeks about the Buffalo backfield. Who to start, Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller? Here are my thoughts on the Buffalo running back situation.
Fred Jackson, the veteran running back, emerged as the featured player in Buffalo after the departure of Marshawn Lynch in 2009 and took advantage of the opportunity, rushing for over 1,000 yards. Jackson became a steal in certain drafts these past couple years, as he has ran for 900+ yards the past two seasons, along with his 1,000 yard season the year before. He was around the league lead in rushing yards over halfway through the season last year before fracturing his fibula, which resulted in him being placed on the season ending injury reserve. Jackson would have rushed for close to 1,400 yards had he not been injured, seeing that he was not competing for carries with anyone.
Since week one, C.J. Spiller has become one of the big stories of the year for fantasy football. After Jackson was injured early in the week one game against the Jets, Spiller filled the roles of the number one running back in great fashion, rushing for 169 yards on 14 carries, averaging over twelve yards a pop. He followed it up with another huge week in week two, this one coming against the Kansas City Chiefs. On a game that Jackson was inactive, Spiller went off again for 123 and two touchdowns, along with catching three passes for 47 yards. After two very impressive showings by the Clemson product, questions were thrown around regarding who the featured back would be once Jackson returned.
Jackson’s injury would sideline him from week one until week four, giving Spiller another start in week three, against the Cleveland Browns. Spiller caught a 32-yard touchdown pass early on but was injured before the first quarter ended, an injury that ended his day. Tashard Choice took the carries after his injury, and finished the game with 91 rushing yards, but that should not be a threat to the two backs.
Once week four rolled around, both players were active for their matchup against New England. Adam Schefter, one of the more reliable NFL sources, tweeted “Bills plan to evenly split the workload between RBs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.” Jackson looked as if he were the starter early on and finished the afternoon with 13 carries. Spiller picked up eight carries. Jackson caught three balls for 50 yards, and Spiller caught two balls for five yards. I kept an eye on the split and noticed that Jackson was in there on more plays than Spiller, which leads me to believe Jackson will remain the featured back. Unless Spiller somehow manages to have a couple more ridiculous games like he had week one and two, I think Jackson will continue to see the majority of snaps. Fantasy owners should look at Jackson as a low end number two running back for their squads, of course regarding the matchup, with Spiller at a high end number three running back, and decent flex player. Coming into the season, I would have looked at Jackson as an average number one and very good number two, but I think it’s clear that he will have some sort of time taken away from him. Spiller will definitely get carries from here on out, but just because he had two big games does not mean he is going to take the job away from the guy who ran for over 900+ yards in three straight years.
If you are one of the people who only read the last paragraph to see the answer, then the answer is that Jackson, assuming he’s 100 percent healthy, and assuming Spiller doesn’t have two or three more weeks in which he puts up 30+ points, should remain the featured back in the Buffalo backfield.
Feel free to drop your own fantasy questions in the comment box, and I will do my best to answer them.
Photo Credits: Associated Press