Fantasy Football Crystal Ball: Steven Jackson

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IJune 27, 2009

EARTH CITY, MO - MAY 2: Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams participates in drills during a mini camp on May 2, 2009 at the Russell Training Center in Earth City, Missouri.  (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

St. Louis Rams running back, Steven Jackson, has become quite the Twitter aficionado, but that’s not his only talent.

When healthy, few players in the NFL offer the type of dynamic package that No. 39 does. The key words there being, “when healthy.”

That’s been a problem for the former Oregon State star throughout his NFL career, as just once in his five seasons has he played a full 16 game schedule. It has been particularly difficult for him to stay on the field over the last two seasons, as he has missed a total of eight games during that span.

Despite his health issues, Jackson’s numbers have been impressive.

He rushed for 1,000 yards in every year of his career, except his rookie season, and has scored at least six times per year over the same time span.

Jackson is, also, an attractive option for fantasy owners because he is one of the few true feature backs left in the NFL who stays in on third downs. The reason for that is his prowess in the receiving game, as he’s caught 38 or more passes in each of the last four seasons.

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That won’t change in the 2009 season, as the Rams failed to pick up a back worthy of displacing Jackson for more than a series or two per contest.

What the team did change, however, was the dynamic of their offensive line.

Out are the journeyman centers the team has employed the last few years, and in is former Baltimore Raven Jason Brown. Brown stands at  a bruising 6'3", and checks in at 320-pounds of a run-blocker, who helped Baltimore to a top-five ranking in rushing yards last season.

Also added to the line was offensive tackle and second overall pick Jason Smith from Baylor. He has a nasty disposition and attitude that will serve the team well as they transform from the doldrums of the Scott Linehan era to the swagger of new head coach and former New York Giants defensiveve coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

One of the most important hires a new head coach can make is that of his coordinators, of course.

On offense, Spagnuolo brought in former Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur to run the show. He will be installing a West Coast offense similar to the one the Eagles employ under head coach Andy Reid. And, if you’ve played fantasy football for any period of time, you know how effectiveve Brian Westbrook has been in that system.

Health is the key here, of course, but if Jackson can stay on the field, he should be able to at least mimic the success Westbrook has been able to attain, and possibly do more. 

Don’t be surprised if the dread locked Jackson rolls up about 1,500 or more combined rushing and receiving yards with double-digit scores in 2009, making him a strong RB1 option.

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