I just can’t get enough.
You know, being a Buffalo Bills fan, I was a bit surprised when the team selected C.J. Spiller in the first round, one year after veteran running back Fred Jackson’s breakout campaign. I’ve always liked Spiller in college, but never necessarily felt that he was a need at the time. The Bills decided to go with the best overall talent at that time in the draft, and a few years later, I’m incredibly happy that they did.
The Spiller man crush is real. I have him as my third-ranked running back this season, just behind Doug Martin and Adrian Peterson. I’ve been proclaiming my love for him in many of my articles, on social media outlets such as Twitter, and while many are on the Spiller bandwagon with me, some people aren’t sold yet. I’ve seen a fair share of folks state that Spiller is a risk in 2013. “He is unproven.” He has some injury concerns.” Those are just a few of the statements that I’ve heard or read during the course of the offseason, and to that, I deliver a message that the legendary Mike Ditka would approve of.
Sure, I’m obviously high on Spiller for many reasons, and maybe my allegiance to the Bills is coming out here, but I don’t think Spiller is nearly as risky as people are making him out to be — if at all.
Injury Risk (?)
Every single time I see someone talk about Spiller being an injury threat, I literally laugh out loud. Okay, I don’t because 99 percent of the time, no one actually laughs out loud when they type “lol”. But still, it’s comical. Over his first three seasons, Spiller has only missed three games due to injury. I don’t understand why that results in concern for certain fantasy owners. And oh, by the way, he only missed one collegiate game due to injury too, so there’s that. There isn’t a lot of wear and tear either. He only posted more than 200 carries once in college (senior year), and last season with the Bills, he set his career high in carries (207). The two previous seasons he only carried the ball a combined 181 times. His body is fine.
Along with injury, I’ve also read on the interwebs that Spiller isn’t very consistent. People say because he posted less than 40 rushing yards five times last year, he wasn’t consistent. Umm, pardon me, but the numbers say otherwise. Via the great Tristan Cockroft, Spiller was actually one of the safest players to own in 2012 based off of consistency. Last year, he sported an 81.3% consistency rating, which was good for fifth-highest in the league. Basically what that means is over 81 percent of the time, Spiller’s weekly numbers were good enough to finish as either a top-10 or top-12 fantasy back for that week. Also, if you look at the last 19 games Spiller has played in, 15 of them resulted in double-digit fantasy production. It’s no secret that former head coach Chan Gailey often under-utilized his talented back, but when Spiller did manage to get at least double-digit carries, he rushed for at least 80 yards seven times. Combine those promising numbers with the fact that he is expected to be utilized much more in 2013, and Spiller makes for a very enticing fantasy option.
Like I eluded to earlier, under new head coach Doug Marrone (who has a history of favoring the run), Spiller is expected to be used a lot more than he was under Gailey in 2012. Marrone stated that he won’t pull Spiller in short-yardage situations, and the back that is running well will stay in the game. Marrone is expected to implement a fast-paced offense that will look to score points in a hurry. As great as Fred Jackson is for this organization, it’s Spiller’s time, and this is no longer a platoon situation. If Spiller can finish 2012 as the number seven fantasy back on just 207 carries, I can’t wait to see what he does when his rush total pushes 300. Despite what some of his critics may say, I fully see Spiller as an every-down back in this league, and that is exactly what he is going to be in 2013. Fantasy owners will reap the benefits.
The Bills Offense
Many fantasy owners would rather invest their first overall pick on a running back on a better team. Fair, but the Bills weren’t exactly a dominating offense in 2012, yet Spiller still produced like he did … on only 207 carries. In 2012, the Bills averaged 21.5 points per contest (21st) and 204.3 pass yards (25th). Fast forward to 2013 and Buffalo has upgraded at the wide receiver position, bringing in rookies Robert Woods and Da’Rick Rogers, and arguably received an upgrade at quarterback between EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb. Besides, even if the Bills offense does struggle as a whole in 2013, that means some potential garbage time fantasy points for Spiller, which fantasy owners will never ignore. Don’t let issues with the team scary you away. We have seen some of the greatest fantasy stars play for really bad football clubs. And quite frankly, the Bills aren’t even that bad.
Right now, I really don’t see how fantasy owners can be anything but excited about Spiller for 2013 and beyond. He arguably has the most upside out of any young running back in the league right now, and some of the issues that people have with him are a bit ridiculous in my eyes. Don’t be afraid to spend a top-eight fantasy pick on him this season. The man crush is real, folks.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.