Since running backs started being hit or miss about five seasons ago, there's always several tandems of guys who make starting decisions that much harder in fantasy football leagues. After two injuries to Buffalo Bills running backs, that decision is once again rearing its ugly head.
Fred Jackson went down with a knee injury in Week 1. C.J. Spiller responded by being the best fantasy back in football over the next three weeks, picking up huge games on the ground and through the air en route to a very hot start.
His shoulder injury against the Cleveland Browns last week wasn't considered serious, which is great news for Bills fans. They now have seen the production of Jackson on a week-to-week basis and the potential of Spiller, who has lightning speed and can break it at any time.
Both Jackson and Spiller were once doubtful for Week 4 in the rivalry game against the New England Patriots. Now, however, both were practicing on Thursday, according to the Bills practice report:
#Bills injury report: WR Ruvell Martin (DNP), CB Leodis McKelvin (limited), RB Fred Jackson (limited), RB C.J. Spiller (limited)—Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) September 27, 2012
That's great news, again, for the team on the field, but it certainly puts a dark cloud over who to start this weekend. Tashard Choice had worked his way into being a waiver pickup, but he further extends the speculation on who will receive the most carries on Sunday.
Jackson is returning early from his knee injury, but still isn't a sure thing to be in uniform on Sunday. The practice report listed him as limited, but head coach Chan Gailey and Jackson himself are both expecting the running back to be out there for the game:
Chan Gailey says Fred Jackson made it thru practice fine and it looks like he'll play, barring a setback.—Mark Gaughan (@gggaughan) September 27, 2012
No doubt the allure of playing the Patriots is backing his decision to push himself. That goes for Spiller too, who, along with the rest of the Bills, has probably been hearing about this epic opportunity to make the Pats 1-3 all week from the coaching staff.
So when it comes to Sunday morning, who should be in your lineup?
If you have a better option, I wouldn't put any of the three (Jackson, Spiller, Choice) above flex status in your lineup. Even in deeper leagues, pushing one of those guys to No. 1 RB status could be a disaster this week.
Spiller hasn't been ruled out for Sunday. Choice, who performed well with 90 yards rushing in relief duty, has been seeing extended reps in practice this week. Jackson likely can't be counted on for a ton of reps, since his knee and conditioning will likely be issues.
And so, the murky water just got murkier. Maybe Spiller returns and is a factor in the passing game. Jackson has that same kind of potential, and we know he's tough as nails.
If I had to choose, I'd think Choice is the safest play this weekend. The injury picture is getting clearer, and in Week 5 I'd expect Choice to go back to fantasy irrelevancy. However, the sheer chance that the two starting-caliber players will be on the field is enough to make this one a down-to-the-wire decision.
Keep checking Twitter and your league homepage for updates. I have a feeling this one is going down to the wire, and further making your fantasy life a big commitment.