With rookie EJ Manuel starting at quarterback, the Bills have tried to establish a strong running game to support him.
The veteran Jackson has proven to be the better option over last year's breakout fantasy star, C.J. Spiller, who hasn't been able to stay on the field this season as he struggles with injuries. Fantasy owners who are counting on Jackson to produce this week won't be happy with his production, however.
He's been a viable flex option in every game he's played this year, averaging 92.25 all-purpose yards a game with two touchdowns. In points-per-reception leagues, his value is even greater, as he's caught 13 passes this season.
Unfortunately, both he and Spiller were injured in Week 4. Jackson suffered a sprained MCL and Spiller tweaked an ankle, as noted by ESPN's Mike Rodak, who reports Jackson intends on playing through the injury on Thursday night:
C.J. Spiller has possible sprained ankle, Fred Jackson has sprained MCL: http://t.co/NdzhceyoCR— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) September 29, 2013
Fred Jackson suffered a sprained MCL today but expects to play Thursday vs. Cleveland— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) September 29, 2013
Injuries are nothing new for the former Coe College standout.
He missed the final six games of Buffalo's season in 2011 after suffering a broken leg, and he missed six more games in 2012 due to a knee injury.
Jackson understands how to play through pain and manage injuries, but he has no control over how much his body can handle on Thursday night when it starts getting pounded after a short week.
This fact alone should cause fantasy owners to question his worthiness as a starter in Week 5, but it's not the only considerable aspect of the formula.
How many yards will Jackson gain on Thursday night?
The Browns feature one of the NFL's top rush defenses, allowing just 79 yards per game and 2.9 yards per carry. The great Adrian Peterson struggled to gain traction against this unit in Week 3, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry.
Chances are, Jackson won't fare any better—especially considering his ailing knee.
Fantasy owners should think long and hard about benching Jackson in Week 5 for these reasons. He might not even finish the game if his knee becomes inflamed, and even if he does play, there's a good chance he'll be held in check and yield touches to third-stringer Tashard Choice.
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