Fred Jackson has been the most overlooked player in fantasy football for the past three seasons.
No one ever talks about him. He’s a 33-year old back with less-than-exciting skills that has seen his fair share of injuries. However, he’s finished as the number 11, 36 and 14 fantasy back in each of the last three seasons, and has been a massive producer of touchdowns. The captain of the Buffalo Bills, Jackson has been one of the most underrated players in football lately, and I love him with all of my heart.
Jackson plays in one of the league’s run-happiest offenses. Last year, Buffalo ranked first in football in rushing attempts per game (34.1), and because of it, Jackson still finished with well over 200 carries, despite splitting work with C.J. Spiller. And head coach Doug Marrone loves to run the football, averaging at least 33 carries per game in all of his seasons with Syracuse, including his final year where the Orange averaged 42.7 rushes per game. Also, barring injury, Jackson should be the team’s goal-line back. Spiller is more of an in between the 20′s back and newly acquired Bryce Brown runs East/West far too much. Last year, Buffalo ranked 29th in goal-to-go scoring efficiency, so they’ll need Jackson’s bruising rushing style. The touchdowns have been what helped his fantasy value, as he scored 10 total touchdowns a season ago.
Obviously, sharing a backfield isn’t the most appealing for fantasy purposes. Although he carried the ball 200-plus times last year, so did Spiller, who was battling an ankle sprain all year, which is pretty telling that they want him to be the featured back. There has also been some talk of Jackson seeing a decreased role this year, and while I don’t necessarily agree with it, the argument makes sense, seeing as Jackson will be 34 in February. Also, Jackson has had his fair share of nagging injuries throughout his career, so there is some injury risk, too.
It would obviously make more sense to draft Jackson as a handcuff to Spiller, but even if you don’t, Jackson has some upside as a low-end RB2 in deeper leagues. The touchdowns should be there, which will keep him relevant, and while I disagree 150 percent that Spiller is “injury prone”, I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he went down. And if that were the case, Jackson would be a top-12 back, for sure. He’s still got plenty left in the tank, if you ask me.
Bye Week: 9
Projected Round: 7-9
Auction Value: $4 (via ESPN).