September 13, 2010
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In a game dominated by violence, any virtual unknown is one turf monster bite away from entering the spotlight. Jason Snelling(notes), Bernard Scott(notes) and Maurice Morris(notes) were just a few under-publicized rushers who reached unpredictable heights when elevated by injury a season ago. Their brief yet eventful impacts drove risk-taking owners to victory lane during pivotal junctures of the fantasy season. Self-proclaimed Nostradamuses who had the stones to start Morris Week 15 versus Arizona (17-126-1, 5-35) probably still brag about their incredible foresight.
The Packer backer is the hottest waiver acquisition of the early season. Catbird rusher Ryan Grant(notes) suffered what Mike McCarthy described as a “pretty good” right ankle sprain in Green Bay’s 27-20 victory in Philadelphia. Though the popular second-round pick believes the setback isn’t “too major ,” vowing to “get (his) butt back on that field,” it appears highly unlikely he will suit up Week 2 against the bumbling Bills.
Buffalo, which ranked 29th against the run in 2009, conceded 147 total yards and a touchdown to Ricky Williams(notes) and Ronnie Brown(notes) in Week 1. The Bills defense performed adequately against the ‘Fins in their newly installed 3-4 scheme, but with little to no answer for Aaron Rodgers(notes) on pass defense the Packers’ marginal offensive line shouldn’t have difficulty creating sizable holes for whoever carries the pill. Najeh Davenport(notes) bloated by hours of tubed meat and Beast Light consumption would still possess enough dexterity to rack 75-yards and a touchdown given the generous matchup.
According to some insiders, Jackson is an ordinary rusher with mediocre abilities. Their observations are misguided. Drafted in Round 2 of a largely underwhelming 2007 RB draft class, the “Brick Cheese” is an undersized yet balanced rusher with plus versatility, vision and strength between the tackles. Excellent in a pinch and melted on rye, he’s better than your average third-down back. Filling the void in two-plus quarters against a fairly rigid Eagles run defense, the 24-year-old totaled 75 yards on 20 touches – not extraordinary, but useful.
Yes, he’s more grinder than greyhound, but in a zone-blocking system predicated on one-cut-and-go runs you don’t have to be phenomenally skilled to achieve success. Just look at what undrafted product Arian Foster(notes) accomplished in a similar scheme on Sunday against the Colts (Sidetrack: Where are the Fosterphobes now? Nick P, how’s life under a 10-ton rock? See comment No. 31).
McCarthy has supreme confidence in Jackson. No longer the deer-in-headlights disappointment he was during his rookie campaign, the fourth-year rusher flashed increased assertiveness throughout training camp and the preseason. The Packers’ head coach was so impressed with Jackson’s maturity, he remarked four weeks ago the vice-back could handle the load if needed. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
"Brandon Jackson to me is an every-down back," McCarthy said. "(He) is a good special teams player, too. He's a complete football player, and if we had to play all three downs with him, I wouldn't even blink."
Inevitably, Grant will be slapped with the always vague “questionable” label. However, given the opponent and considering it’s only Week 2, place the incumbent’s odds of playing at worse than 50/50. Assuming Grant sits, Jackson will shoulder the load, though John Kuhn(notes) may poach a goal-line touch or two.
Eclipsing the century mark in total yardage and a score in his encore as featured back is certainly possible. If Jackson starts, consider the 12-percent owned back an upside RB2 even in shallow formats. In early rankings, the Noise has him slotted in at No. 17 among Week 2 rushers. Owners in FAAB leagues should shell out roughly $25-$30 to acquire the Packer's services.
With the door of opportunity wide open, it’s time for Jackson to run through it.
(UPDATE: Chris Mortensen reported from his Twitter account Monday morning, "Mike McCarthy says Ryan Grant as a "signifcant ankle injury" out this week... and readng between lines, out for quite awhile." Grant's setback is sounding more and more like a high ankle sprain. Expect Jackson to sit atop the depth chart for multiple weeks. The Pack's next three games: vs. Buf, at Chi, vs. Det).
(UPDATE #2: Several sources are reporting Grant is done for the year. Obviously, boost your FAAB bids accordingly. Time to empty the piggybank. A $60-$70 bid will likely win the newly anointed starter's services. Though the Packers will likely go outside the organization to add depth, Jackson will get every chance to prove his mettle this week against the Bills. If he keeps the gig, don't be surprised if he's a fantasy playoff difference-maker. Green Bay travels to Detroit Week 14.
Image courtesy of US Presswire