Surely even diehard Buffalo Bills fans must be surprised by how well C.J. Spiller has performed in the first two weeks of the 2012 NFL season. It may only be two games, but Spiller has shown a level of playmaking capability and elite speed that makes him the perfect sleeper candidate for NFL offensive MVP.
Consider his numbers against the New York Jets in Week 1—14 carries for 169 yards and a touchdown, with an average that almost defies belief. Spiller tallied 12.1 yards per carry and remember, the Jets defense is no soft touch against the run.
Just to prove that was no fluke, Spiller destroyed a Kansas City Chiefs 3-4 front, designed to bottle up a running game. 15 carries for 123 yards reduced the average gain per carry to 8.2, still mightily impressive by normal pro standards. He also added two more touchdowns, making him the perfect choice for fantasy owners in any league.
The first thing that stands out about Spiller is that awesome speed. His touchdown against the Jets and his first scoring run against the Chiefs showcased a breathtaking level of speed that can take him past any defender.
It's not just straight-line, direct speed either. Spiller has an innate ability to shift his feet without losing any quickness. That makes for fast combinations of footwork and moves executed at top speed.
That changes the way the opposition has to prepare for the Bills and how they defend their running game. Rather than attacking aggressively downhill, defenses facing Spiller will have to rely on maintaining lane discipline and playing a more reactionary style.
If just one player botches their assignment or misses a tackle, Spiller is likely to go the distance. Speed is one of those great equalizers that he can undermine any defense, no mater how talented the personnel.
Even AFC East foes the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots present a challenge to a potent ground game. However, Spiller needs just one play to post monster numbers, so he could match his early-season production against anyone.
There are also games against the Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars for Spiller to look forward to. Those are three teams who should be terrified by the prospect of subduing a runner with a 10.1 yards per carry average.
If head coach Chan Gailey can continue to tweak the running game to scheme more ways to set Spiller free, the 2010 ninth overall pick could enjoy a record-setting season.