2014 Fantasy Football Face-Off: C.J. Spiller vs. Ryan Mathews

By Bill Pivetz
C.J. Spiller
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

In today’s football, it’s hard to find a high-scoring running back outside of the first round. There may be a player or two with a breakout season, but likelihood is low. When selecting your second rusher, there is a mix of decent players. The two to focus on have been frequently injured, but could break into the top 10 when healthy. Their names are C.J. Spiller and Ryan Mathews.

Case for C.J. Spiller

Spiller hasn’t missed a lot of time since being drafted by the Buffalo Bills, missing just three games in four seasons. However, his value decreases by the presence of Fred Jackson. In 2013, Spiller finished with 202 carries while Jackson led the team with 206. Spiller suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 4 and his performance suffered. He had less than seven fantasy points in five games from Week 6 to Week 11.

Jackson enters the 2014 season at 33 years old, but the Bills prepared for that by trading for Bryce Brown. Spiller may play more than Jackson, but Brown could also be a factor.

Case for Ryan Mathews

Every year, fantasy owners select Mathews as their second running back and every year owners are racing to the waiver wire for a replacement. Mathews missed a total of 10 games from 2010 to 2012. For the first time in his career, he was able to play in all 16 games. As a result, Mathews recorded career highs in carries (285) and rushing yards (1,255).

The San Diego Chargers already have Danny Woodhead and signed Donald Brown to fill in if, and when, Mathews goes down with an injury. Yet, when healthy, Mathews is the running back to own out of the three. He has a great combination of power and speed to break through defensive lines and run from the secondary.

Final Verdict

Both running backs have dealt with their fair share of injuries. Mathews broke free from that stigma with a great 2013 season. Spiller will have to show that he isn’t affected by the ankle sprain in order for owners to select him in the early rounds. If you select either of these running backs, make sure you grab their backups in the later rounds.

Spiller and Mathews have similar ADPs, both being drafted in the fourth round. With the addition of Brown and Jackson always in the mix, Mathews would be the better choice. He proved he can play all season and will compliment the Chargers passing game.

Bill Pivetz is a fantasy sports writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BPiv_Sports.

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