When the fantasy football community heard that a running back for the Buffalo Bills would be carrying the ball until he threw up, everyone had high hopes that C.J. Spiller was going to be one of the highest-scoring players in fantasy football. Spiller’s season ended up disappointing to say the least, and fantasy owners have a difficult decision of whether they should take a risk on him in 2014.
If you look at the rushing attempts and receptions of Spiller between 2012-13, it is hard to figure out why his production changed so drastically. He battled injuries all season, but the workloads that Spiller received over the past two years were very similar. In 2013, the starting running back for the Bills had six fewer carries than the previous season, and only caught 10 fewer passes than he did in his 2012 campaign.
The average rushing yards per game decreased for Spiller from 77 in 2012 to 61 in 2013, but one of the major reasons for the drop-off in fantasy production was his amount of receiving yards. He only totaled 185 receiving yards and did not have a receiving touchdown in 2013. Spiller had 459 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in 2012, so his involvement in the passing game really is crucial to his success.
In 2013, Fred Jackson doubled his rushing totals, tripled his rushing touchdowns and was 46 yards short of doubling his receiving yards total from the previous season. Even with Jackson cutting into the fantasy value of Spiller, it appears that the 2013 season may have more accurate numbers to judge Spiller by in the future.
With six more rushing attempts, Spiller should have theoretically rushed for 317 more yards. When you compare these numbers to his rushing attempts and receptions in the previous season, he also should have had 274 more receiving yards if he had caught 10 more passes. These numbers are obviously impossible, but it does show that the statistics posted in 2012 by the young running back may not be repeatable.
If I were to combine the totals from the past two seasons for Spiller and average them to try and find a prediction for next year, here are the numbers he would finish the season with: 1,085 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, 322 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. With Jackson still on the team, these numbers look like a more realistic season for Spiller than what was predicted for him in 2013.
These numbers would land Spiller as a top-20 back next season. The good thing about trying to draft Spiller is that most players will be scared away from him. With that being said, however, you may find yourself overwhelmed if there is a rush on running backs in your league, and you may be tempted to draft him too early.
In a standard 12-man league, I would not draft Spiller before the fourth round. He will end up as a great flex option much like Jackson did this past season, but you cannot rely on his numbers to lead your team to a championship in 2014.