September 16, 2009
Over the years sports stories on celluloid have riveted audiences with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Within this genre, no theme has been repackaged and resold to moviegoers more than tales involving people overcoming seemingly impossible odds to bask in championship glory. Pop in "Hoosiers" and even Bill Romanowski would go soft.
A product from tiny Coe College, a Division III school best-known for educating Marv Levy, the cloaked rusher barely registered a blip on the national radar despite being named to five All-American lists his senior season. Determined to get recognized, Jackson mailed tapes to every NFL front office, but his efforts proved fruitless. On draft day 2003, interest was nonexistent. His name wasn't called. Even afterwards no team buzzed his cell phone inquiring about a tryout.
Refusing to bury his dream, Jackson signed with the United Indoor Football Association's Sioux City Bandits in ‘04, earning approximately the same amount in a week Terrell Owens(notes) pays groupies to polish his ego per hour ($200). After attracting co-MVP honors in '05 with his obscene 1,770-yard, 41-TD campaign, he netted a gig the following season with the Rhein Fire in the then soon-to-be-defunct NFL Europe. Opening eyes with his incredible work ethic, burst and versatility, the journeyman accumulated 1,048 total yards and two scores, averaging an impressive 5.7 yards per touch. The performance was good enough to entice an invitation to Buffalo's practice squad the next summer.
Working his way up the depth chart since '06, the motivated Jackson, who signed a multi-year extension with the Bills this past May, continues to stoke his internal fire.
With Marshawn Lynch(notes) chasing chocolate-loving "lil' green dudes" while on suspension and Dominic Rhodes(notes) searching for a new employer, the former Kohawk was spectacular in his '09 debut against New England (Highlights here). Though overshadowed by the Most Famous Butt-chin in America (Tom Brady(notes)), the multipurpose back devoured chunks of yards via ground and air en route to a very Westbrookian line - 15 rushes, 57 yards, 5 catches, 83 yards, 1 TD. Based on the inspirational world-traveler's comments prior to the game about his spotlight opportunity, the end result wasn't unsurprising:
"It's definitely something to get excited about. I think it just shows that hard work and determination can get you to where you want to be. I've talked to many kids at schools about just working hard and having a goal and working to get there. Guys from little colleges can get to where they want to be."
The key cog within Buffalo's reconfigured no-huddle scheme under Alex Van Pelt, Jackson is confident in the Bills' quick-paced offense. Due to his modifiable skill set, his adjustment to the new system has been flawless. So seamless the transition, it's possible with another stellar performance, this week against Tampa, the former penniless indoor leaguer could force Dick Jauron to install a full-blown timeshare when "Beast Mode" returns Week 4. Frankly, between the two, his slipperiness and well-rounded game is a better fit for the offensive philosophy.
Jackson was undeniably one of the most underappreciated commodities in fantasy drafts this season. Due to a late-preseason wrist setback, platoon concerns and the Bills' general offensive ineptitude, he routinely slipped into the early 100s (RB39). But based on his stirring initial output, sound comfort level with the offense and favorable fantasy playoff schedule (at KC, NE, at Atl), he will be a lineup staple, especially in PPR leagues, when Lynch is activated.
This week, expect Freddy to remain fab. Pounded by the Cowboys last Sunday at the Ray, the Bucs' defensive shift from the Cover 2 to 4-3 was painfully rocky (Side note: Umm, ya, the Noise seriously fumbled on the Tony Romo(notes) "lame" designation). Raheem Morris' club surrendered an uncountable number of explosive plays to star-clad backs and receivers. Dallas rushers averaged a healthy 5.0 yards per carry and totaled 117 yards. Expect Jackson to once again be the focal point of Van Pelt's gameplan. Must start material in all but the shallowest of leagues, he could easily tally another top-five performance.
Alongside Tampa's Cadillac Williams, Jackson is the feel-good story of the early season. For those owners who invested a mid-round pick in the transient, warm, tingling sensations will likely be commonplace.
Fearless Forecast Week 2: 17 carries, 80 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 55 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Do you believe Jackson is a strong "sell high" candidate after Week 3? What's your Fearless Forecast for him this week and overall? Who would be cast to play him on the silver screen? What would be the byproduct of a late-night tryst between Lynch and an Oompah-Loompah? Discuss below.
Image courtesy of US Presswire