5 Reasons to Draft CJ Spiller in Your Fantasy Football League
An injury to starting running back Fred Jackson opened the door to significant playing time last season for C.J. Spiller of the Buffalo Bills.
The third-year pro responded, tallying 830 total yards and scoring six touchdowns a year ago and averaging a robust 5.2 yards per carry.
Jackson is back atop the depth chart in Buffalo this year, but that doesn't mean that Spiller goes back onto the fantasy football scrap heap.
Here are five reasons why.
1. The Kid Is Talented
At 24 years old, I don't know that it's fair to call C.J. Spiller a kid anymore.
I do, however, know that Spiller showed the Bills last season some glimpses of why they spent a top-10 draft pick on the former Clemson star in 2010.
In Spiller's last six starts in 2011, the 5'11", 200-pounder averaged better than 100 total yards a game, including three straight contests in which Spiller not only topped the century mark in total yardage, but he also scored a touchdown.
2. Fred Jackson
Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson was off to a fantastic start in 2011. He ranked among fantasy football's top running backs in the early part of the season and finished the year in the top five at his position in fantasy points per game.
However, Jackson's season also finished after 10 games due to a broken leg.
Although the seventh-year veteran still managed to rack up almost 1,400 total yards before going down, the fact remains that Jackson is a 31-year-old running back coming back from a major injury.
That's a pair of pretty significant red flags.
3. Even with Jackson Healthy, Spiller Still Has Fantasy Value
Given Jackson's age and injury, as well as Spiller's ability to produce, it's a fairly safe assumption that the Bills will work Spiller into their offensive game plan more in the early part of this season than the last.
In 2011, when Jackson was healthy, he was the workhorse and Spiller was a complete non-factor.
So long as Jackson remains so, he remains the odds-on favorite to receive the majority of touches in the Buffalo backfield.
However, we're still going to see a lot more of a platoon situation in 2012 from the Bills at running back.
In fact, there may well be weeks where a perfectly healthy Jackson is out-pointed by Stiller in fantasy football—especially in point-per-reception leagues and in games where the Bills are forced to abandon the run early, as Spiller is a much more dangerous receiver.
A healthy Jackson may not make Spiller worthy of a draft pick as a weekly fantasy starter at running back, but he could serve as a more-than-viable bye-week fill-in or "flex" starter, especially in PPR formats.
4. Spiller's ADP Relative to Jackson's
The relative average draft positions of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, according to MyFantasyLeague,com, is a pretty fair indicator of the uncertainty that many people see swirling around the Buffalo backfield this season.
Jackson is presently the 17th running back off fantasy draft boards in the middle of the fourth round. Meanwhile, Spiller is being taken about two rounds later as the 24th ball-carrier selected.
That makes "handcuffing" the two backs a rather expensive proposition. But if you're of the belief that it will be Spiller who emerges as the big dog in Buffalo (be it due to talent or injury), then a late sixth-round pick is a very solid value for a starting running back.
5. The Golden Ticket Factor
Winning fantasy leagues takes risks.
Playing it safe may get you a .500 team and a possible playoff berth, but it isn't going to win you many championships.
Granted, if Spiller's production hovers around his RB35 finish from last year (a reasonable assumption if Jackson stays healthy and the pair share carries all season), then a sixth-round pick for an RB3 will be a bit of a misstep, although not a completely wasted pick.
However, if Jackson goes down or Spiller usurps him as the featured back in Buffalo's offense at some point early in the season...Jackpot! RB1 numbers at a fraction of the cost.