If during draft season we'd told you that CJ Spiller was going to see 20 touches in each of Buffalo's first two games, you'd have been appropriately bullish about his fantasy potential. There's no way would you have downgraded him out of the first round. Last season, Spiller averaged just 15.6 touches per game, yet he managed to finish as the seventh highest-scoring fantasy back. He's had the ball in his hands 42 times so far this year, gaining 184 yards from scrimmage.
No, the team isn't exactly running him "until he throws up," as they'd threatened to do. But it's not as if he's serving as a decoy, either.
Still, with two weeks of data in the books, Spiller's fantasy owners are feeling betrayed. Misled. Hurt. Gailey'd. As far as Spiller investors are concerned, Fred Jackson has received entirely too many carries — 13 in the opener, 12 in the win over Carolina. Jackson poached a 4-yard touchdown on Sunday, too. He remains an annoyance.
Fred isn't exactly a ruining CJ's fantasy outlook, however. Here's the way the Bills' backfield work has been divvied up thus far:
Spiller – 82 snaps, 33 carries, 144 rush yards, 11 targets, 9 receptions, 40 receiving yards
Jackson – 57 snaps, 25 carries, 97 rush yards, 11 targets, 8 receptions, 64 receiving yards
Spiller has averaged 4.4 yards per carry to Jackson's 3.9, which is of course no great surprise. According to Pro Football Focus, Spiller has gained 2.5 yards after contact per attempt and he's been credited with seven missed tackles. For Jackson, it's 1.9 YC/A and one missed tackle.
But you didn't need to be convinced that Spiller is the flashier runner. And I'm not here to criticize Jackson, a still-competent back who may have made the non-play of the day in Week 2.
All I'd really like to do today is make the case that Spiller, at his current workload, can be great — not merely good, but great. I'm not sweating the 60/40 playing time split in this offense (OK, it's actually 59/41), because Buffalo has been incredibly RB-reliant in the opening weeks. The Bills are fourth in the NFL in total rush attempts (67); Spiller and Jackson rank second and third on the team in receptions. Both players are seeing action near the goal line. If CJ gets another 20-plus touches against the Jets in Week 3, he'll make plenty of noise. Spiller feasted on New York last season, gaining 325 yards over two games and finding the end zone twice. Everyone remembers this play, right? Good.
Assuming Buffalo's backfield committee maintains its current size/shape, Spiller's owners won't have much to complain about when all the numbers are in. If you're looking to sell, I'm happy to buy.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- CJ Spiller
- Fred Jackson