Fantasy Football: CJ Spiller poised for comeback

In the modern era of the NFL, quarterbacks reign supreme.

Everyone’s heard it. The NFL is a passing league. For that reason, in fantasy football quarterbacks usually put up the most points. An inexperienced fantasy owner would translate that to mean quarterback is the most important position. They would be wrong.

I have heard friends in my leagues preach their strategy of scoring as many of the top ranked wide receivers and tight end (Jimmy Graham) as they can because they are some of the most consistent fantasy players. Hearing that the inexperienced owner, one could think wide receiver is the most important position. Wrong again.

Sorry for dragging this out for readers who know better, (and you should probably just scroll down if you do), but from what I have seen in my mock drafts, this is an issue that needs to be clarified.

The most important position in fantasy football is running back. That does not mean owners have to pick running backs in the first round. But they have to make at least two of their running backs picks count if they mean to win a title. The reason is the steep drop off in talent at this position.

Once Eddie Lacy is off the board the amount of risk increases tremendously. Should owners pick the injury plagued Demarco Murray and pray this is finally his year? Or should they roll the dice on sophomore Montee Ball, who touched the ball a total of 120 times last season, and bank on the Peyton Manning effect that carried Knowshon Moreno last year working for Ball as well? Fantasy owners are forced to decide which risk is the least risky. Luckily, if they listen to my advice, they’ll see there is some value to be had in the later rounds. Value with top 10 upside.

As I outlined in my article on quarterbacks, comeback players provide fantasy owners with the chance to take very talented players way later than they should be drafted. It is the same for running backs this season with many of the top running backs in the league turning into such bad busts last season no one wants them this year. But they should.

C.J. Spiller- Buffalo Bills

Now, full disclosure, I picked Spiller last season. And I would have won my league if I hadn’t. I swore I would never draft him again. But I just can’t stay away from him. Much the same as Matt Ryan, nothing went right for Spiller last year. Everyone in the fantasy world knows the story. He was never 100 percent healthy as he played through ankle injuries. Then 32-year-old Fred Jackson played himself into a running back by committee. And, due to a freak injury to Kevin Kolb, rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel led the Bills’ sputtering offense. This culminated in Spiller posting a mere 1,118 yards from scrimmage and just two touchdowns in a season where he was projected to finish as a top five running back.

All of this has Spiller’s stock crashing through the floor. Which is great for owners. He is currently being drafted in the third round in a 10-person draft as the 15th running back overall.

15th? This is a guy that has the potential to finish, dare I say it, in the top five. While his overall numbers were down last year he still managed to average 4.6 yards per carry, which was tied for ninth in the league, on one ankle. Remember what he can do on two. When Spiller burst on the scene, generating highlight after highlight, he wowed the world with his agility, speed and ability to make people miss. In 2012 he finished as a top seven running back with 1,703 total yards and eight touchdowns. Recently Spiller told reporters he is back to 100 percent, feeling the best he’s felt since 2012.

Buffalo Bills

Remember this version of C.J.

The second most pressing issue is the presence of Fred Jackson. The thing with Jackson is, even in his prime, he has had problems staying healthy. In his seven-year career Jackson has missed 20 games due to injury, including two knee injuries in 2011 and 2012. This may be part of the reason that, according to CBS sports, Jackson’s role in the offense is set to diminish from last year’s resurgent season, which can only mean more touches for Spiller.

Perhaps the most important reason Spiller is set for a comeback year is the team he is apart of. Last season, while they did rank 20th in points scored, the Bills finished second in rushing yards under new head coach Doug Marrone. To me this says that Marrone understands his team’s strengths and is committed to leaning on them. This season the team’s number one asset on offense will be C.J. Spiller.

With a healed ankle, less Jackson and more touches, C.J. Spiller is ready to achieve the season he fell short of last year. Fantasy owners willing to take the slight risk will be rewarded heavily with what could be the most valuable pick of the draft.

Be sure to read the continuation of this article for more sleeper running backs.