Many fantasy owners went into this season thinking that Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller would become one of the best running backs in the NFL, leading their fantasy team to a championship in the process. After Week 1, however, many Spiller owners (myself included) are very worried about the Bills’ use of their star running back, as well as the impressive performance of his backup, Fred Jackson.
Spiller received 17 carries to Jackson’s 13, but Spiller only managed to gain 41 yards, while Jackson racked up 67. The story was the same in the passing game, where Spiller had 5 receptions for a mere 14 yards, while Jackson caught 4 balls for 41 yards. Neither player found the endzone on Sunday, and both fumbled, though only Spiller’s was recovered by the New England Patriots.
Last year, the Bills inexplicably fed the ball to Jackson despite Spiller being clearly more effective. The tables were turned Sunday however, with Jackson being the far more productive back. Obviously, owners are concerned that Spiller will lose carries to Jackson, or that his weak performance is a sign of things to come.
However, Spiller owners must be patient with their first round pick. This is one game, and it does not mean that Spiller is destined to be a fantasy bust. For starters, the Patriots had the 9th ranked run defense in the NFL last season, meaning Spiller was never likely to dominate the game. The Patriots also held the ball for over 15 minutes longer than the Bills on Sunday, greatly limiting the amount of opportunities everyone on the Buffalo offense received.
Spiller also just returned from time away dealing with a tragic event in Florida, in which his grandfather shot several co-workers and then himself. Obviously this is pure speculation, but I think it is safe to assume there was a lot more on Spiller’s mind than just football Sunday.
The Bills made it very clear in the offseason that their goal was to get Spiller as many touches as he could handle, and don’t expect them to give up on that plan just yet. The Bills face a tough Carolina Panthers defense next week, but Spiller should be able to be far more effective in that game. The Bills face a difficult September schedule, but things ease up after that.
Spiller may get this season off to a rough start, but he will come around, and owners who stick with him will be rewarded with the big season they were expecting when they drafted him.