The Noise isn't convinced Fred Jackson is the Buffalo back to embrace. (AP)
During the climactic scene in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," the emboldened archaeologist is placed in quite the pickle. In order to save his father from imminent death and score one of history's greatest finds, the Holy Grail, he must pick the cup of a carpenter from a vast array of jeweled chalices and goblets and drink from it. Choose wisely and eternal life will be granted. Choose poorly and instant decay occurs, mortifying a rather attractive blonde Nazi in the process.
In this age of indecipherable timeshares, fantasy owners, too, are faced with such perilous decisions.
The Buffalo backfield is one of them.
Prior to fracturing his fibula Week 11 in Miami, Fred Jackson was a runaway steam-train. Over his first eight games, he dragged tacklers, racked yards and splashed six often, becoming the centerpiece in an overachieving Bills offense. During that span, he was the trendsetter in yards after contact per attempt among RBs (3.7) and tallied a robust 6.6 yards per touch, 1,376 total yards and six touchdowns. His subsequent 17.4 points per game output in standard formats was fourth-best, one spot ahead of rush king Maurice Jones-Drew and just off Ray Rice's pace. Sadly, his value vanished instantaneously after he was placed on injured reserve November 23.
In a next-man-up league, when a door closes another one always opens. Second-year rusher C.J. Spiller, long thought to be a complementary-only sidekick by scouts and fans alike, immediately picked up the torch.
Down the homestretch, Spiller showcased the same versatility, breakaway speed and completeness he once exhibited as a do-everything back at Clemson. Most impressively, he bounced off contact, proved tough and gained hard yards between-the-tackles (5.8 ypc when running up the middle), characteristics many felt he sorely lacked. Overall, he amassed 105.5 total yards per game and five end-zone dives during the regular season's final five games. Most importantly, his off-the-hook 21.5 per game output over Weeks 15-17 basked many in championship glory.
Naturally, Spiller's late-season emergence presents a "good" problem for Chan Gailey this year. From Sportsnet Canada:
The offensive-minded Gailey recognizes that building a unit around two high-quality backs can be tricky.
"You don't want to do too much when they're both in there because if you lose one of them then all of a sudden you're without a big part of your package," Gailey said after the Bills' second week of Organized Team Activities kicked off on Tuesday.
"That's a fine line that you walk creating offences to be able to take advantage of both good players."...
With both Jackson and Spiller finally healthy and gaining confidence, the potential result excites Gailey.
"The great thing about it is we can put both of them anywhere," he explained. "We can leave one of them in the backfield and put the other one out as a receiver or motion them out. They both can block well enough that they create problems for the defence, which is really right now a good thing for us to have."
In this case, one man's dream is another's nightmare. According to Gailey's tenor above, a near 50-50 platoon could be implemented, a possible undesirable outcome for the fantasy community.
Novice drafters who foolishly select players solely on last year's stats could be in for a rude awakening. Yes, Jackson isn't your run-of-the-mill 31-year-old running back. He's well-rounded, gritty and shown no signs of slowing down. Keep in mind the former Sioux City Bandit (UIFA) didn't graduate to The League until 2007. And he's only been a full-timer since '09. Suffice it to say, there is plenty of tread left on the tires. Still, value seekers need to show restraint in the early rounds. Jackson, going around pick No. 21 overall, is likely overrated. Don't be suckered. Darren Sproles, Doug Martin and Reggie Bush, all whom are going well after the Bill, are more trustworthy options.
The smart money here is on Spiller. He's seven years Jackson's junior, possesses purer speed and, most notably, is a fraction of the price. Per FantasyFootballCalcuator.com, the dynamo is the 34th RB to fall off cheat sheets, going on average around pick No. 83. Assuming he nets roughly 12-14 touches per game, he could greatly exceed his perceived draft day value.
Since the Bengals made overtures early in the offseason Mr. Three Yards Per Carry Cedric Benson would not be re-signed, many expected the organization to address running back early in the draft. Instead it went a different direction, bringing in another braided rusher via free agency, BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
With Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard and sixth-round rookie Boom Herron on roster, it seemed clear Marvin Lewis was committed to slamming the gavel on a regular basis. However, it appears the Law Firm is now part of a full-blown partnership. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
After brief flashes of how good he could be, Scott will have his best chance yet to show his ability as he will be one of the featured backs. Gone are the days of one back consistently getting 25 carries a game and in is a backfield-by-committee approach in which there will be a more equal distribution of carries between Scott and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Scott doesn't have any idea how many carries he will get per game, but he does think the setup will work better.
Said Scott: "I think me and BenJarvus are going to be ready to handle how many carries they want to give us. I think it will be pretty even, but you never know."
If the near "even" split holds true, BJGE remains the Bengals back to own. He is a grinding between-the-tackles chain-mover with a nose for the end-zone. His ability to drive piles after initial contact should net him most, if not all, short-yard and goal-line duties. Recall last year only seven of Cincy's 23 red-zone scores came via the ground, an area the Bengals hope to improve in.
Though BenJarvus has a realistic shot at 7-9 touchdowns, his likely low yardage yield hinders his overall value. The Bengals could evolve into a pass-often team (53-47 pass-run in '11) with Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and Jermaine Gresham working fluidly together. If that development occurs, 800 rushing yards would be a stretch for Green-Ellis. And with only 26 receptions to his name since 2006, he won't accumulate many points elsewhere. At his current 41.0 ADP (RB 22) he's terribly overvalued. Other RBBC commodities Peyton Hillis and Mikel Leshoure are wiser, cheaper options you can grab some 40-60 picks later.
As for Scott, he may compile roughly 12 touches per game functioning as the primary between-the-20s carrier, but he's only flashed fantasy usability in spurts. Still, he's an intriguing eleventh hour gamble in challenging formats. Green-Ellis isn't exactly Ickey Woods circa '88.
• Once completely supportive of Kenny Britt and his recovery from a torn ACL, the Noise's skepticism has grown tenfold. Though Titans head honcho Mike Munchak remains optimistic his star receiver will soon rebound to pre-second procedure form, the wideout's recent words don't inspire similar confidence. From Titansonline:
"This will be my second and a half week out (from surgery)," Britt said. "We did some running in the pool yesterday, we did some strengthening today, and I'll be running on the field tomorrow... I'm itching and I'm scratching. I just want to be out there playing football. I'm praying [I'll be ready for Week 1]".
Britt was well on his way to a magnificent season before his knee disintegrated Week 3 versus Denver. Without question he is the Titans' deadliest weapon when healthy. No matter if Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker takes first-team snaps in September, he is capable of posting spectacular numbers. But in light of the news, worries about his burst and cutting ability are warranted.
Ultimately, Britt is a medium-risk, high-reward dice roll at his current Round 6 price point in 12-team drafts (63.0 ADP, WR27). He could regain my trust, but until he feels supremely comfortable engaging in regular football activities, he will be avoided in the early-middle rounds. Remember, the wide receiver position in this pass-happy age is incredibly deep. Even after pick No. 100 there are numerous bargins that could puncture the WR2 tier (e.g. Mike Williams (TB), Greg Little and Darius Heyward-Bey). Play it safe, for now.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise and be sure to check him along with Andy Behrens, Brandon Funston and Scott Pianowski on The Fantasy Freak Show (Now on iTunes) every Friday at 5 PM PT/8 PM ET on Yahoo! Sports Radio
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