An important aspect of fantasy football is recognizing trends that indicate future success. Perhaps the best example of a player on the brink of greatness in 2012 was C.J. Spiller.
At the age of 25, Spiller entered the season as a known commodity that was stuck in a bad situation. Spiller sat behind Fred Jackson on the Buffalo Bills depth chart, and if 2011 was any indication, then his fantasy value would continue to be limited. This was reflected in Spiller’s average draft position which saw him as the 37th running back off the board, or undrafted in most occasions.
Spiller burst onto the scene Week 1 against the New York Jets by accumulating 194 total yards and a touchdown on just 16 touches.
By season’s end, Spiller had received the 29th most carries in the NFL, but translated it into the ninth most rushing yards. Despite leading all running backs with an average of 6.5 yards per carry, Spiller only received 10 or more carries in nine out of Buffalo’s 15 games.
The chart below shows the top fantasy production from running backs in games during which they received 10+ carries:
We can draw several conclusions from these statistics: The first is that when given the chance, Spiller was the second most productive fantasy running back in 2012. The second is that despite his stature, Spiller was able to rack up touchdowns. The third conclusion is that Spiller can handle the role of an every-down back.
After averaging just 11.3 points per game in the 10+ carry games, Fred Jackson will enter the 2013 season at the age of 32. Spiller will certainly be in the top-10 in carries, which should catapult him into a top five fantasy running back.
Spiller is a complete back and draws comparisons to Jamaal Charles due to similar size and speed. Both players are 5’11”, 200lbs and run a 4.36 40-yard dash.
Both players also had seven carries for 30+ yards, only Spiller reached that total on 183 carries compared to Charles’ 271. Spiller also averaged 9.4 yards per reception compared to Charles’ average of 6.5. The final distinction between the two is Spiller’s nose for the end zone, having scored more touchdowns despite significantly fewer touches than Charles.
All of this data from 2012 indicates that Spiller will reach the next level in 2013. With more carries, the possibilities are endless for Spiller to end up being a top five running back in 2013, if not top three.