Fred Jackson: Fantasy Football Owners Must Approach Week 4 with Caution

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2012

Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson entered the 2012 NFL season as one of fantasy football's most intriguing ball-carriers, but a knee injury in Week 1 kept him off the field for Weeks 2 and 3.

According to the Associated Press (via ESPN), Jackson is close to returning. He might even play this Sunday against the New England Patriots. But don't go switching your fantasy team's starting lineup just yet.

Even if Jackson does play, it's going to take some time to acclimate him to the offense. He had six carries against the Jets before getting hurt, making his return very similar to just starting a brand new season. And we don't even know how healthy he is in the first place.

C.J. Spiller did an outstanding job as his replacement before injuring his shoulder against the Cleveland Browns last week. Jackson has to be feeling some pressure to return now with Spiller's status up in the air (per NBC Sports reporter Mike Florio).

According to The Buffalo News' Tim Graham, Jackson wasn't happy with how his knee felt at practice on Wednesday. The report mentions that, according to Jackson, "pain is not an issue as much as explosiveness or mentally trusting the knee."

Fantasy football owners shouldn't need to read anything else. Without explosiveness and cutting ability, Jackson's ground game is greatly diminished. He might touch the ball 10-15 times on Sunday, but how effective could he really be?

According to ESPN, Jackson is owned in nearly 94 percent of their standard-scoring leagues. He's probably (hopefully) stashed on your bench as you patiently wait to push him back into your starting lineup.

But don't do it yet.

After the Patriots, the Bills play San Francisco and Arizona in Weeks 5 and 6. The road won't get easier, but Jackson won't have an impact if he's not himself.

Jackson could feel a lot better in the next few days, making your decision even more difficult, but it's already midweek.

You've been without him for two games. Be patient and wait one more.

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