Huge things were expected out of Buffalo Bills' running back C.J. Spiller this season as he was drafted as high as No. 2 overall in some fantasy football leagues, but due to injury and the reemergence of Fred Jackson, Spiller simply won't reach his immense ceiling.
Spiller has been banged up by myriad injuries all season long, but the one he is currently dealing with is most troubling. According to ESPN's Mike Rodak, Spiller has a high ankle sprain, an injury that has been known to ruin seasons.
The electric back out of Clemson was forced to sit out Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints due to the ailment, and he is only being given a "chance" to play in Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs, per Rodak.
Spiller told Tim Graham of the Buffalo News that he simply wasn't ready to play in Week 8, and it certainly remains to be seen if he'll ever truly be ready.
While Spiller will return at some point, whether it's against the Chiefs or further down the line, there is no clear path to fantasy greatness. In addition to having his dynamism compromised by the ankle sprain, Spiller will have to continue sharing the backfield with veteran Fred Jackson.
Jackson is a marvel of sorts as 32-year-old running backs simply don't excel in the NFL anymore, but he is an exception to the rule. Jackson has arguably been Buffalo's best offensive weapon this season as he is averaging 4.2 yards per carry and is on pace for nearly 1,300 total yards and 12 touchdowns.
Although Jackson has been dealing with injuries this year, as well, he has been able to play through them and play well. Spiller will return to a timeshare at best, which makes him little more than a flex consideration for the remainder of the season unless Jackson suffers a more significant injury.
Also, the Bills have the latest possible bye week as they aren't off until Week 12. That means Spiller won't have an opportunity to properly rest his ankle before that unless he continues to miss games. That seems to suggest that he won't be close to his usual self until Week 13 at the earliest, which is the final week of the regular season in many fantasy leagues.
That may be far too late for most who drafted Spiller as it isn't easy to overcome such a huge first-round bust.
In all fairness, Spiller hasn't been a joke when on the field by any means as he is averaging a respectable four yards per carry, but it's blatantly obvious that he isn't the same player that he was last year. He picked up an incredible six yards per tote last season, which was obviously unsustainable, but the difference in terms of explosiveness is visible.
The big question relates to what fantasy owners should do with Spiller at this juncture. If someone is willing to take a chance on him and offers a player of value in return, then trading him isn't a bad idea. With that said, there are probably very few owners out there who are clamoring to part with a good player in exchange for a player who may barely play the rest of the season.
Because of that, your best bet is to hold on to Spiller and hope for the best. If things break perfectly in terms of his recovery, then he could still be a factor down the stretch. That doesn't mean that you should rely on him as an RB1 or even an RB2, but he does have flex potential if he can put this high ankle sprain behind him.
If nothing else, Buffalo's schedule gets much easier after the bye as it faces the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars in succession, so Spiller does have that working in his favor. Players have been known to essentially rise from the dead from a fantasy perspective, and Spiller certainly has that type of potential.
Unless Spiller goes Adrian Peterson circa 2012 on the league in the closing weeks, however, there is nothing that can save this season from being a disappointment. Bad luck and unfortunate circumstances have contributed to Spiller's bust status, but all the rationalization in the world won't make his owners feel better.
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