Fred Jackson: RB Not Worth Fantasy Start Despite Potential Return

Ethan GrantAnalyst ISeptember 28, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 13:   Fred Jackson #22 of the Buffalo Bills at Cowboys Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Fred Jackson is expected to return to the Buffalo Bills' backfield on Sunday in the first of their annual two contests against the New England Patriots.

That's big-time news for the Bills, but don't mistake Jackson as a starter on the fantasy football format this weekend. Knee injuries are a tricky business, and with a dependable back in Tashard Choice already in place, it would be foolish to overuse Jackson this weekend.

It's great news for the Bills, who are also potentially without C.J. Spiller this weekend. Although both were at practice on Thursday, Spiller is more doubtful for the weekend matchup with the Pats, while all signs point to Jackson being out there, maybe even as the starter, on Sunday.

Here's a look at both running backs in practice on Thursday through the Bills official Twitter page. Jackson's right leg has heavy protection with his bulky knee brace, while Spiller looked to be around and active, though it's hard to tell if there is any extra protection under his pads.

#Bills RBs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller returned to practice on Thursday PHOTO:

— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) September 27, 2012

Running backs coming off injuries are always a risk. Toby Gerhart has seen more touches in Minnesota this year. The Kansas City Chiefs went out and got Peyton Hillis after watching Jamaal Charles go down.

That being said, why would the Bills rush Jackson back into an extended role, especially when he's returning from injury earlier than expected?

With a new weapon in Spiller and Jackson now a wild card in their offense, it also makes for a murky situation going forward because the duo will likely share some of the carries and Jackson will be more of a goal-line threat than Spiller.

This week, don't make Jackson a fantasy starter unless you have Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and some other scrub running backs on your roster. It's a risky move as an RB 1 or 2, but you might be able to get away with it as a flex play in a deeper league.

Jackson's situation will be more clear in Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers because Spiller is expected to return and Jackson will be another week removed from his injury problems.

This week, however, start him at your own risk. He's not worth the headache, especially with a valuable backup like Tashard Choice seeing a lot of practice time and coach Chan Gailey certainly not wanting to risk his former starter's health the first week back.

It's only Week 4; you have a lot of time to play with your lineup. Jackson and the Bills are one of the mysteries of the fantasy league so far, and one to keep a close eye on going forward.

Then again, as the video feature on Jackson shows, he's always been one for proving doubters wrong. So here's hoping, Fred, especially because you're on my team as we speak.