Mark my words, this will be one of the most difficult debates of this entire series. These guys are so ridiculously close that you are most likely nitpicking at this point. Both C.J. Spiller and Jamaal Charles have almost identical skill-sets and are both inside my top-seven at the running back position. However, if I could only choose one, who would it be?
Making the case for Spiller
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I’m a Buffalo Bills fan, so I think you know which back I will be choosing. However, even if I wasn’t a Bills fan, I’d still probably prefer Spiller. Last season, this guy emerged into a fantasy star, posting 1,703 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns. He was awesome in every facet of the game. Arguably the most elusive back in football, Spiller finished third in football in yards after contact (2.1) and second in yards per carry (6.0), only behind the incredible Adrian Peterson. Keep in mind that Spiller put up these awesome numbers despite being often underutilized, as former head coach Chan Gailey would sometimes keep him off of the field. Well, no more. Doug Marrone is calling the shots now, a guy that historically loved to run the ball at Syracuse. Marrone already stated that Spiller will not be pulled for short yardage situations, just as long as he is running the ball well. Believe me, he will be. Spiller finished 2012 third in fantasy points per snap in both standard and PPR formats, ahead of Charles. So, if Spiller outperformed Charles, despite often splitting work with Fred Jackson, why shouldn’t we believe he will do it again (and then some) as more of the featured back in 2013? To put it simply, Spiller is a very special player and will finish as a top five fantasy runner in 2013. Book it.
Making the case for Charles
Now as much as I LOVE Spiller, it’s not to say that I hate Charles. He may be the fastest runner in football and has some serious home run potential. Charles also posted over 1,700 yards from scrimmage and six total touchdowns, just one year removed from ACL surgery. To be fair, Charles produced monster numbers while being underutilized quite a bit as well by former head coach Romeo Crennel. Well, Andy Reid is in town and while many are worried that Reid will sling the ball around a ton, I’m not sold. I think this actually helps Charles’ fantasy value, especially from a PPR perspective. Keep in mind, new quarterback Alex Smith has been known as a game manager at best, so I fully expect Charles to be the focal point of that offense, as he should. Don’t forget, it was only two years ago that LeSean McCoy caught a ridiculous 78 balls for 592 yards and two scores under Reid. Charles is probably a better back than McCoy, so why wouldn’t Reid try to implement the same playing style with him? The touchdowns (or lack there of) are a bit of a concern, as Charles has never scored more than seven rushing touchdowns in a season. But still, even if he doesn’t score a significant amount of touchdowns, Charles will easily eclipse his career high of 45 catches, barring injury.
You already know the answer. I’m going with Spiller here, as I have him as my number five fantasy rusher. There just seems to be more to like with him than there is Charles. He was a top tier fantasy back last year despite sharing time, so I personally cannot wait to see what he does as the likely bellcow. I think the injury tag with him is a tad overrated, seeing as he only missed two games in his entire professional career. I honestly think both of these guys have a tremendous chance of finishing inside the top-three among fantasy running backs, but if I had to put my money on one, it would be Spiller.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.