Once upon a time dark days loomed over the heads of C.J. Spiller owners with Chan Gailey trolling fantasy teams by giving Fred Jackson more carries. Thankfully, Gailey is finally in a nursing home somewhere, and Doug Marrone is ready to give Spiller and his 4.27 speed the amount of touches a true workhorse back deserves. Sure, Fred Jackson is still in town, but a 32 year-old running back coming off two straight years of injury plagued season shouldn’t contend with Spiller for touches.
At this point it seems that Adrian Peterson is set in stone as the number one pick in fantasy drafts, but who is number two? Is it Arian Foster, Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles, well it shouldn’t be any of them, it should be C.J. Spiller.
With last season being the first time Spiller got close to a full workload he went for over 1200 yards, five touchdowns, and was the only running back besides Adrian Peterson to average six yards per carry.
Last season, despite having only having 10 games where he had double-digit carries he averaged less than 5.5 yards per carry only two times in those 10 games. So, in eight games he average over 5.5 ypc, and in the other two he averaged 4.14 and 2.46 ypc respectively. Interestingly enough the highest total of rushes he had in game last season was in his season finale against the Jets where he had 24 touches for his season low of 2.46 ypc.
On top of those stats in Spiller’s last 293 rush attempts he has totaled 1693 yards which is good for 5.8 yards per carry. Not to mention in that span he had had six games where he received between only four and nine rushing attempts.
Rushing stats aside Spiller also caught 43 passes last season for 459 yards, two touchdowns and 10.7 yards per catch. Spiller could be a reliable option for whoever the Bills quarterback is, and can turn a simple checkdown into a 20 plus yard play.
With Spiller he has proved that it isn’t about the number of touches he receives because he has proven that he can do a lot with a little, but whether or not will he get the opportunity, and this season the opportunity is his.
There seems to be a lingering issue among fantasy circles that the drawback on Spiller is that he won’t score enough touchdowns to be a top five back. Well, while that may be the case the 2013 Bills offense is much more explosive than last years or any year before. With either Kevin Kolb or E.J. Manuel under center the offense should be much improved over where Ryan Fitzpatrick lead. Not to mention the team has since acquired Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and Da’Rick Rogers on top of having T.J. Graham‘s 4.3 speed. Sure this group is considerably unknown, but it will be much better than trotting out Donald Jones or Brad Smith alongside Steve Johnson.
Another thing to keep in mind with Spiller is the track record of the Bills new coaching staff. With new offensive coordinator from Syracuse Nathaniel Hackett calling the plays the Bills should be looking to run much more often. Last season Syracuse ran the ball 555 times in comparison to 473 pass attempts. In comparison the Chan Gailey led offense in 2012 ran 442 times and passed 511 times. While the NFL is a passing league Hackett seems primed to lead a run based offense.
Is drafting Spiller second a hard pill to swallow for fantasy drafters? Probably. However, keep in mind that per rushing attempt he was just as explosive as Adrian Peterson, and some of the other top 10 backs this season have their own questions marks.