Entering the 2012 season, C.J. Spiller was grabbed mostly in the later rounds of fantasy football drafts, as he was expected to back up the veteran Fred Jackson. It only took about one half of the season for that to change.
Jackson was hurt early in the Buffalo Bills Week 1 matchup against the New York Jets, and Spiller wasted no time showing everyone who the best running back in Buffalo is. He came in and ran for 169 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, then followed that up with 123 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries against the Kansas City Chiefs the next week.
After those two performances, it was obviously Spiller’s time, right? Wrong. Jackson returned the next week from injury, and Spiller was relegated to six touches against the Cleveland Browns. He is so good that he still managed 58 yards and a touchdown in that game, but for the next few weeks while Jackson was still healthy, his own team continued to hold Spiller back.
This song and dance went on for much of the season as Jackson struggled through injuries, while Spiller continued to make the best of a bad situation and run for 1,244 yards on just 207 carries. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry for the entire season, tied with Adrian Peterson for tops in the league among backs with over 200 carries.
Spiller was not only a threat on the ground, but through the air as well with 459 yards and two touchdowns, catching 43 of 56 targets. He was one of the most efficient backs in the league by far, and now that head coach Chan Gailey is no longer at the helm (for good reason), there’s little doubt that Spiller should earn the starting role next season.
Turning 26 for the 2013 NFL season, Spiller is in his prime and has endless potential. Sure, the one thing that could hold him back again is Jackson and his team, but if the Bills decide to limit their best player again then there is a lot to question within the organization. Jackson was clearly Gailey’s guy, so with a new coach at the helm all signs point to Spiller finally getting the workload he deserves and being a top-10, if not top-5 running back next fantasy football season.