Will C.J. Spiller Have Fantasy Value in 2011?

Jul 4, 2011


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C.J. Spiller was one of the most overdrafted running backs in the league last year. Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best seemed to draw more ire, but Spiller was taken higher in the draft and Mathews finished with 383 more total yards and six more touchdowns while Best finished with 602 more yards and five more scores.
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Spiller finished with just 283 rushing yards at 3.8 yards per carry, which isn’t nearly on par with his explosive speed. He played in 14 games as a rookie, yet finished with at least 50 total yards on just one occasion. For all the talk of his explosiveness, he had just one run and one reception over 20+ yards. To say his game didn’t translate at this level is an understatement of epic proportions.
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Two of his main issues were fumbles and pass protection. In just 74 attempts Spiller put the ball on the turf five times. Three of his fumbles were recovered by the defense. Failing to pick up the blitz and coughing up the ball are two of the quickest ways to a coach’s doghouse.
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Unfortunately for Spiller not having the OTAs costs him valuable time working on improving in those areas. You can work on ball control on your own, but it’s hard to simulate pass protection.
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Spiller has be compared to Jamaal Charles, but Charles was effective even when he wasn’t getting a lot of touches. In his rookie year he carried the ball just 67 times, which was actually seven fewer than Spiller. Yet he had 74 more yards thanks to a 5.3 yards per carry average. Charles had three more receptions, but 115 more yards. In basically the same amount of touches Charles outgained Spiller by 189 yards.
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Darren McFadden struggled early, but the signs were there. Even Reggie Bush, whose production has not nearly matched the hype, had been productive up until last year.
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Spiller should be significantly better in 2011. Not simply because the ball was set so low, but because he does have the talent. He’s worth a look as your RB4, particularly in PPR leagues. Don’t write him off just yet. You may be pleasantly surprised.
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