Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller entered the 2013 season with high expectations in fantasy football circles, as owners envisioned big production with a bigger workload and Fred Jackson falling into a complementary role. But an early ankle injury hampered Spiller through the rest of the season, and he finished with 202 carries for 933 yards, 33 catches for 185 yards and two total touchdowns as Jackson (206 carries for 890 yards and nine touchdowns; 47 receptions for 387 yards and one touchdown) outperformed him.
Spiller has already blamed his poor performance on the lingering ankle issue, and with better health a long-awaited sustained breakout may come in 2014. Should fantasy owners be high on Spiller looking toward next season?
Spiller only had 20 or more carries in a game twice in the 15 games he played this season, which is a product of both his injury and Jackson performing well enough to keep a significant share of the workload. Spiller’s skill set and build (5’11″, 197 lbs.) is also not that of an every-down back, so it makes sense for the Bills to attempt to feature him in more of an all-around role to get the ball in his hands more often and take advantage of his big-play ability.
Fantasy owners that used a first-round pick on Spiller this past season may choose to avoid him all together on draft day next summer, which has a chance to make him a value pick for owners that can forget about what was essentially a lost season and remember the player that averaged six yards per-carry in 2012. It feels like we’ve been waiting for Spiller to emerge as a consistent fantasy producer for a long time, but I think 2014 will be the year he becomes a legit high-end RB2 in 12 and 14-team leagues. He also has some untapped potential in PPR formats, assuming the Bills find a way to expand his overall role in their offense.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.