The Buffalo Bills are likely going to join the ranks of NFL teams which frustrate fantasy football owners this season as head coach Chan Gailey hints that Buffalo Bills running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will be splitting carries this season. Spiller showed that he is poised for a breakout season with increased playing time on the field last season. Jackson was on pace for a career season in 2011 before breaking his fibula last year. Buffalo is now faced the reality of figuring out how to get the ball in the hands of their tandem of talented running backs.
Fred Jackson was a force at running back before getting injured last season. He posted six 100-yard games, six scores and had ten runs over 20 yards in just 10 games. Jackson also posted career numbers catching the ball out of the backfield 39 times for 442 yards and a 11.3 yards per catch average.
In Jackson’s absence, C.J. Spiller shined. The Clemson product posted a very respectable 5.2 yards per carry average while scoring six touchdowns. Prior to Jackson’s injury, Spiller was worked into the offense as a receiver and he responded with 39 receptions for 269 yards.
The problem facing the Bills in 2012 will be determining how to split the carries between the two. Head coach Chan Gailey suggests that the duo might not be happy with the decisions being made this season.
Speaking to Buffalobills.com, Gailey said, “I can promise you this, we will not make everybody happy. That will not happen this year. The only thing that will make everybody happy is winning. That’s what the goal is, to come up with plans that incorporate everybody’s abilities that allow us to win. Other than that, I can’t predict what’s going to happen as far as percentages for their touches.”
I can envision that Jackson will get the majority of the carries, but that percentage might be much narrower than you might expect. Spiller has been drawing rave reviews in camp this offseason and should play a much larger role in the Bills offense this season.
This plan should impact Fred Jackson and you should adjust your draft board accordingly. Jackson was on pace for a near 1,800 total yard season last year and could easily have recorded double digit touchdowns. In the absence of Spiller, Jackson would easily be considered a top-10 fantasy back but now should be regarded as a flex option back only, not a primary back.
Spiller might be a late round steal in many drafts as I believe he is poised for a career season based on reports out of Buffalo this offseason.