With all due respect to Adrian Peterson, CJ Spiller will emerge as the best running back in the NFL next season. Not only that, but he should do so by a comfortable margin. The 2012 season will no doubt be viewed as Spiller’s ‘breakout year,’ but it shouldn’t be overlooked that CJ put up some of the best rushing statistics in the league last year while only seeing 207 carries for the Buffalo Bills.
That 207 pales in comparison to AP’s 348, and there’s plenty of additional reasons to believe that Spiller will eclipse Peterson’s performance during the upcoming season. Both backs averaged an impressive 6.0 yards per carry (leading the league), but that was with Peterson as the focal point of the Minnesota Vikings offense, and Spiller as the de-facto back up to Fred Jackson. Of course, Jackson was lost to injury early in the season, allowing CJ to come away with a majority of the Bills rushing attempts on the year, but only barely.
Interestingly enough, when Spiller’s total yards from last season are extrapolated to match AP’s 348 rushing attempts, he falls only six yards short of Peterson’s near record-breaking 2097 yards rushed. All this from a third-year player who was only given a starter’s workload partway through last season. It’s a year later, and Spiller is hungrier, more focused, and determined to improve. But perhaps the most terrifying notion for opposing defenses is that Spiller is still just 25 years old, and yet to reach his athletic peak.
Peterson, 28, is at that very peak, and has nowhere to go but down. Minnesota fans and Fantasy Football owners are no doubt hoping for a repeat performance from the man they call ‘Purple Jesus,’ but the hard truth is that Peterson is now past middle-aged in NFL running back years, and the window is wide open for another back to compete with him for the title of best in the league.
CJ Spiller will not only compete for that title, but will win it handily in 2013.