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The Bills cleared their logjam at running back by trading Marshawn Lynch to Seattle for draft picks. He should have no problem taking the lead role once he gets acclimated with Seattle’s system. Lynch, and those who have been holding onto him in hopes of a deal, are the biggest winner in this deal.
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Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are also winners as they should now share the load going forward. I expect Jackson to be the primary back with Spiller offering a change of pace.
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The biggest loser is Justin Forsett, who will be relegated to third-down duty.

I profiled C.J. Spiller and Arian Foster earlier this summer (click their names to read the articles), suggesting that both RBs would be solid RB3 or flex players. Both RBs had teammates succumb to injuries in recent days that cleared the path to additional carries. The question now is whether or not they have become legitimate RB2s.

 


I’ll start with Spiller, who had not one, but two teammates get hurt. Fred Jackson broke a bone in his hand, an injury that should cost him between 4-6 weeks. If the injury lingers to the high end of the estimated recovery time, Jackson would miss two weeks of the season. Marshawn Lynch suffered a sprained ankle, which could cost him 3-4 weeks, or right before the season opener. Spiller will get the rest of the preseason to take all the first team reps. Given the lofty expectations that come from a top ten pick, Spiller could take hold of the starting job and never let go. With his big play potential, Spiller becomes a legitimate RB2 in my eyes, with a legitimate shot at 1200 total yards.

 


Meanwhile Arian Foster’s job security was bolstered when rookie Ben Tate suffered a season-ending ankle injury of his own. Tate was expected to challenge, and possibly overtake Foster for the role of starting RB. Not only did he lose his primary competition, but Steve Slaton’s fumbling problem resurfaced. Nothing gets you in a coaches doghouse faster than putting the ball on the carpet. Slaton figures to have a significant role in the offense, especially in passing situations, but if the fumbles persist, Foster could get an even heavier workload. With such a potent passing attack, Foster should be able to turn in a productive season and join Spiller in the RB2 ranks.

 

Click here to see my updated RB rankings.

 

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

Fred Jackson Injured

13 August 2010

Fred Jackson cutting

 

As if things couldn’t be worse for Buffalo’s offense, starting RB Fred Jackson suffered hand and ankle injuries in the Bills’ preseason opener. Jackson could remain sidelined the rest of the preseason, and even into the season.

 

Few teams have the depth at RB like the Bills, so the team should be just fine with rookie C.J. Spiller and Marshawn Lynch. If there was a chance that Lynch would be dealt before the season, don’t expect that to happen now.

 

C.J. Spiller and Marshawn Lynch should be moving up your depth charts while Jackson should slide down.

 

Image courtesy of Icon SMI


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

I think C.J. Spiller is so full of talent that it oozes out of his pores. The kid is going to be the real deal. I just think people should lower their expectations for him in his first year. In keeper leagues, by all means he should be flying off the draft boards, but in standard leagues, he’s going a bit early for my tastes.

 

According to Mock Draft Central, Spiller has an ADP of 59, 27th among running backs. I have him a few slots down on the RB rankings (click to see my 2010 RB rankings), but there are players going after Spiller that I would absolutely prefer over the rookie.

 

For example, proven RBs like Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Marion Barber, and Clinton Portis are higher on my list. Spiller is also going before Jason Witten, Hines Ward, Tony Gonzalez, Brent Celek, among others.

 

So why would I wait on drafting Spiller so early? For starters he’s in a terrible offense. Buffalo ranked 28th in points last year with a mere 16.1 per game. They were 30th in passing yards per game at 157.2. The Bills ranked 16th with 116.7 rushing yards per game, and therein lies the problem.

 

The Bills weren’t hurting at RB when they drafted Spiller. Sure, they’ve had it up to their ears with Marshawn Lynch, but Fred Jackson quietly had a solid season. He had 1433 total yards (1062 rushing, 371 receiving) and 4 TDs (2 rushing, 2 receiving). Plus, the Bills have been unable to find a partner in a Marshawn Lynch trade, meaning they have three capable running backs.

 

Like I said, I love Spiller in keeper leagues, but I would want him as an RB3 or a flex player. I much rather make sure I had quality starters at QB, RB, WR, and possible TE (depending on who’s available) before I take part of a RBBC at best, or a three-headed monster at worst, for one of the most anemic offenses in the league.

 

Prediction:  950 total yards (700 rushing, 240 receiving), 6 TDs (4 rush, 2 rec)

 

What do you expect from C.J. Spiller?

 

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The Bills, at least at the moment, have three running backs capable of carrying the load. Marshawn Lynch is the odd-man-out, who will either be traded or have to wait for an injury to get meaningful carries. Outside of RB, the Bills offer little to fantasy owners.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Slightly Unfavorable
The Bills open the playoffs with a bang facing Cleveland. C.J. Spiller will likely have assumed the lion’s share of the load by then so he could get you off to a hot start on the way to the title. Of course they face Miami and New England in the subsequent weeks so temper your expectations.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Fred Jackson – Jackson is a versatile RB that can produce even in a time share. He is particularly effective in PPR leagues. He should be more valuable early on, and could give way to Spiller as the season goes along.

 

C.J. Spiller – Spiller could take some time to get acclimated to the NFL, especially if there are any holdups in his contract negotiations. Spiller has big play ability and could contribute right away.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Marshawn Lynch – You can’t use him until he gets traded or a defined role, but he is certainly worth drafting and holding on to in deeper leagues. Despite all of his off-the-field transgressions, he can run the football.

 

Lee Evans – Evans has ability, it’s just a matter of who can get him the football on a consistent basis. He scored 7 TDs last year, but only topped 50 yards three times.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
Trent Edwards – Assuming he holds off Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm Edwards should at least be on your radar as a starting NFL QB. That said, the ceiling is quite low for Edwards.

 

James Hardy – The #2 WR on a team like Buffalo isn’t a glory position, but given his size (6’5″, 220) he may be worth a flier late in drafts.

 

Bills Defense/Special Teams
Playing the Patriots, Jets, and Dolphins twice is tough, but they also take on the Packers, Ravens, Bengals, Steelers, and Vikings. Two home games against Chicago and Detroit in Weeks 9 and 10 along with the playoff match-up against Cleveland in Week 14 appear to be the only time you can plug their defense in.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Marshawn Lynch has served his suspension and should give the Bills a much needed shot in the arm.  With Beast Mode back on the field, perhaps Trent Edwards will be more likely to take some shots down field to Terrell Owens and Lee Evans.  Lynch’s return diminishes Fred Jackson‘s fantasy value, but he still should be useful as a bye week fill-in or flex player.

The Cowboys Running Back injuries continue as Felix Jones suffered a knee injury in last night’s win over Carolina.  He is expected to miss a couple of games.  Marion Barber III will likely reclaim his starting role, but look for Tashard Choice to get plenty of action.  If MB3 is active, feel free to use him.  Choice isn’t a bad flex play against Denver this week.

Fred Jackson cutting

The first answer that comes to mind is “Play Him”.  This weekend anyways as he takes on the New Orleans Saints.  The Bills are going to need every bit of firepower they can muster to keep up with the high-octane New Orleans Saints.  Fred Jackson has 220 rushing yards (5.1 ypc) and 11 receptions for 108 yards and a TD.  Last year Jackson had 571 yards (4.4 ypc) and 3 TDs and 37 catches for 317 yards, so clearly what he’s done is not a fluke.

The problem comes next week when Marshawn Lynch returns from his suspension.  Even though Jackson filled in admirably for Lynch, things are gonna change.  Lynch is too talented of a back to keep on the sidelines.  He has averaged 1075.5 yards and 7.5 TDs on the ground while averaging 4.1 ypc.  He has added 65 catches for 484 yards and a TD through the air.  If he weren’t such a knucklehead, he probably wouldn’t have to worthy about his role in the Bills offense.

In my opinion, Fred Jackson is better suited for the Bills no-huddle offense.  The time Lynch missed gives Jackson the advantage, especially considering how well he’s played.  It make little sense to abandon that style and go with the more deliberate Lynch.  I’m not saying Lynch won’t get his reps, I just think he takes a backseat to Jackson.  Even last year, long before the suspension, Jackson was heavily involved it Buffalo’s Offense.  It may be hard to rely on either one after this week, but they both absolutely need to be on fantasy rosters.  If I had to choose one to play in Week 4, I would lean towards Fred Jackson, barring injury of course.

Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Marshawn Lynch tackled
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Well, Marshawn Lynch’s three-games suspension was upheld so you’re looking at 12 games of fantasy production from Beast Mode.  The good news is he’ll be there at the end of the season when it counts the most.  The suspension should drop him in drafts to at least the third round so he could end up being a great value.  There are some major concerns with Lynch though, other than the suspension.  The offseason addition of Dominic Rhodes means that the Bills will have three capable RBs, along with Fred Jackson.  While Lynch should remain the lead back, clearly the other two will cut into his production.  As long as he gets the ball at the stripe, he should be fine.  That’s where the other problem lies.  The Bills also added Terrell Owens, who puts up TDs in a hurry.  If Lynch is sharing his yardage with Jackson and Rhodes and TDs with T.O., that diminishes his fantasy value dramatically.

Lynch misses one of the Bills’ best matchups in Week 3 when they face New Orleans.  Playing in the AFC East he has a pretty tough schedule.  They also draw Carolina, Houston, Tennessee, and Jacksonville.  They open the fantasy playoffs with a favorable matchup against Kansas City, followed by New England and Atlanta.

The odds seem to be stacked against Lynch this year.  He’s missing three games, will share yards and TDs, and if he messes up one more time, he’ll be done for the year.  Plus, if Buffalo is successful without him, they may ease him back to the rotation slowly.  He’s a tough one to put numbers to, but I’m guessing he has 1000 total yards and 6 TDs.

ESPN is reporting that the Buffalo Bills signed RB Fred Jackson to a contract extension.  Jackson is easily one of the best Running Backs in the league.  He ran for 571 yards and 3 TDs on 130 carries (4.4 ypc) and show his versatility by catching 37 passes for an additional 317 yards.  He started in place of Marshawn Lynch in Week 17 and rolled up 136 yards on New England. 

Buffalo also signed Dominic Rhodes recently, giving them one of the deepest RB sets in the league.  Marshawn Lynch will miss the first three games due to suspension against New England, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans.  Before the Rhodes signing, Jackson had decent fantasy value as the primary handcuff to a guy one misstep away from a year-long ban.  Even if Lynch were to mess up again, the best Jackson could hope for is a shared load with Rhodes.  With three solid backs and the addition of T.O. in the passing game, I’m afraid all Buffalo RBs will suffer in 2009.

There were some unusual heroes on Sunday.  There always are.  Let’s take a look at them and see if they are worthy of your fantasy rosters.

QB
Matt Schaub -  Schaub finally had a decent game, although I’m miffed Andre Johnson didn’t factor in more.  The Good News for Schaub is he had his bye week and has soft matchups vs. Miami, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Minnesota coming up in Weeks 6-9.  If your QB goes on bye that week, he could be a nice plug-and-play.  The Bad News is the Texans aren’t doing so hot and he could find himself out of a job.  Until that happens though, he has some value.
Ruling:  Get ‘em

RBs

Deuce McAllister - With the start Reggie Bush is having and the emergence of Pierre Thomas, many put Deuce out to pasture.  It appears that may have been premature.  There is still some fight left in Deuce.  The Saints are a better team when he they have Deuce going so look for them to continue to give him work.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Fred Jackson – Fred ran for 46 yards on 7 carries (6.6 ypc) and a score while adding three receptions for 9 yards.  The bulk of his yardage came on his 22 yard TD run.  While his numbers look decent in the boxscore, I don’t see him as much of a threat to Lynch.
Ruling: Get ‘em.

WRs
Lance Moore – I expected Robert Meachem to get more work with Colston and Shockey out, which he did, but Lance Moore was truly the biggest beneficiary.  He snagged 7 passes for 101 yards and 2 TDs. 
Ruling: Get ‘em.

Steve Breaston – Credit Cage Matcher Awesome for calling Breaston early.  He exploded for 9 catches for 122 yards.  While he may have a hold on the #3 WR spot in the desert, this game is the exception and not the norm.
Ruling: Don’t Sweat ‘em.

TE
Zach Miller – He got off to a slow start with 58 yards through three weeks.  He exploded for 95 and a score vs. the Chargers.  He finished strong last year with JaMarcus (8 catches for 84 yards in Week 17).  Perhaps they are finally on the same page.  With bye week season in full swing, he makes an interesting selection.  The beauty is with Oakland going on bye next week, you probably won’t have any competition for him if he’s available and you can make due without him.
Ruling:  Don’t Sweat ‘em.

There you have it.  I hope I provided you some good info while you make your fantasy team waiver wire adjustments.


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