Fred Jackson vs. C.J. Spiller: Who to Start in Fantasy in Week 5?
It’s a weekly conundrum. A starting running back gets hurt, his backup goes off, and then they’re both finally healthy and no one knows what to make up for it. Okay, so it’s not a weekly issue, but I feel we’ve had to deal with this scenario multiple times already in 2012.
Toss Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller onto that wagon and let’s have at it. Both of these guys are potential studs in a humming Buffalo Bills defense, yet both have that dreaded matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, who generally stop anything in their path.
Let’s dissect who might be the better play in week five:
Why/Why Not Fred Jackson
Jackson was the original start when the season came off, as he’s the better inside runner of the two and is just as versatile (though not nearly as explosive) as Spiller. He’s also just more experienced and reliable, and the Bills prefer him to help pick up the blitz and block than they do Spiller. That means unless F-Jax is hurt, he’s almost always going to be in on key drive, and probably the first choice to run games down. He’s also usually going to be the preferred short-yardage and goal-line option, as well.
In week five, despite both guys being a little less than 100%, Jackson had 13 carries to Spiller’s 8, and had 16 total touches to Spiller’s 10. It’s very possible that they get closer to the same amount of total touches, but with everything said above, it’s not a guarantee.
Why/Why Not C.J. Spiller
The big thing working in Spiller’s favor is that the matchup with the 49ers could do one of three things. First, the 49ers could stifle F-Jax and have the Bills move on to Spiller if he’s more successful. If that doesn’t end up being the case, there’s the fact that Spiller is more explosive than Jackson. If they both get 10 touches, they both have moderate value (Flex) starting out. But due to his ability to break a big run at any moment, Spiller might carry more potential. Lastly, if the Bills go pass-happy, they may try to use Spiller’s speed in space to get chunks of yardage. They can use him out of the backfield or in the slot, due to his excellent versatility.
Ultimately, the matchup stinks and the Bills will likely be playing catch up for most of the day. But when they do that, they generally use Jackson because he’s the better blocker and equally effective as a pass-catcher (50 rec yds last week compared to Spiller’s 5). Obviously this can go either way, and a lot of people will tell you to roll with the upside guy – and that’d be Spiller. But with such a tough matchup, I like to play the odds (logic) here, and give F-Jax the go.