Fantasy Football 2013: Fred Jackson Is The Most Underrated Fantasy Commodity
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
The above picture of running back Fred Jackson is worth about a million.
It fits him perfectly. Fred is a warrior, a leader, a beast. You guys should know by now that I am a big Buffalo Bills fan, so there may very well be some bias here, but if anyone watched him play, they could tell that Jackson gives it his all every single week. A veteran out of Coe College (Google it), Jackson has been a vastly underrated running back throughout the majority of his playing career. He’s battled countless injuries and while Bills fans realize how crucial he is to success, fantasy owners may not.
First, I love being right. Who doesn’t? However, I will also be the first to admit when I’m wrong, and through the first seven weeks of the season, I have been dead wrong about C.J. Spiller. Blinded by his massive upside, I almost forgot about how crucial Jackson is to this team, and should have known that Spiller wouldn’t have simply taken over. Both are incredible backs, but Jackson warranted more attention than he received in fantasy circles this offseason, and now is the time for him to get it.
Sunday was another productive outing for Jackson. He finished with just 36 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, along with four catches for 49 yards, but the stats don’t tell the whole story. Not even close. Jackson suffered a pretty nasty leg injury in the beginning of the game, and appeared to be grimacing in pain for a few minutes. The injury looked bad, but Fred, being the warrior that he is, returned to action. He made some huge plays for Buffalo, and actually hurt his leg a second time later on. No surprise here, Jackson remained in the game. Towards the late stages of the game, he converted some crucial third downs to help set up a game-winning field goal. Jackson inspired and motivated his teammates to dig deep and grind it out for a much-needed victory. From a fantasy perspective, Jackson finished the day with 16.50 fantasy points, making it his sixth week with double-digit points. Owners need to realize how insanely productive he’s been this season.
Fred Jackson’s weekly production
Jackson has scored a total of 102 fantasy points, according to Yahoo! scoring. That is good enough for the seventh-best rank among all fantasy running backs. Better than guys like Ray Rice, Arian Foster and Doug Martin. Jackson’s average draft position before the season started? 124.5, according to ESPN. Keep in mind, too, that Jackson hasn’t even seen anywhere near the amount of carries some of the aforementioned players have. Jackson is only seeing about 12 carries per contest this season. It helps that Buffalo is one of the most run-heavy teams in football, ranking first in rushing attempts (240) and fourth in total rushing yards (983). Seattle and Buffalo are the only teams in the league averaging over at least 34 rushing attempts per contest. Another thing Jackson has going for him is the offense. I know what you’re thinking. “But Buffalo’s offense looks like a mess.” Fair, but believe it or not, the only team not named the Denver Broncos to score at least 20 points in every game this season is the Buffalo Bills. Because of that, Jackson ranks fifth in rushing touchdowns with five.
Going back to that offense, Jackson hasn’t been a focal point of it as many other running backs are in their respected systems. He’s certainly the most appealing fantasy rusher in Buffalo right now, but he has had to split some work with Spiller and Tashard Choice. Check out this table highlighting the snap counts this year, compliments of Fantasy Data.
To put that into a bit of perspective, Arian Foster has scored roughly five less fantasy points on the year, despite seeing 35 more carries. And that number would be even larger if he didn’t leave his game in the first quarter on Sunday. What about Frank Gore? He’s scored about seven fantasy points fewer, but has carried the football 41 more times. Also, Fantasy Data uses a stat called Point Percentage, which is basically how many fantasy points a player has scored every 100 snaps. Jackson is sitting at 35.5 fantasy points per every 100 snaps, higher than the likes of LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson.
I’m not entirely sure what else I have to do to show people that Jackson is one of the best fantasy backs in football right now. I get it. A 32-year old, banged up runner out of Coe College doesn’t have a ton of appeal nowadays, but he is still very much fantasy relevant.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.