Pretty much every day I read something from the guys over at Pro Football Focus that makes
me say uhhh me say “ummm, what the hell?” They know the function of those crooked lines on calculators, and use them to amaze and astound.
Often when I see their work either on their site or through Twitter, I bank it somewhere for use in a future post. But there are rare times when the what?!? factor is so overwhelming that the factoid at hand is worthy of discussion on its own. This is one of those times.
All year fantasy owners and Bills fans alike have been frustrated by C.J. Spiller’s inconsistent — and more often, insufficient — usage in the Bills’ backfield. We still love ya, Fred Jackson, and you had your place in a time share, but the fact that Chan Gailey didn’t favor Spiller heavily in that split much earlier in the season continues to reach new levels of befuddlement.
Of course that’s no longer a problem since Jackson is out for the year, making Spiller the Bills’ definitive lead back. The result? Some pretty gleeful fantasy owners after the former Clemson stud rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown this past Sunday against the Seahawks, good for 16 fantasy points. He did that at a pace of 6.1 yards per carry, maintaining his overall YPC of 6.5, which should be illegal.
Simply by watching Spiller run you immediately become aware that he’s more than just extremely fast. He can cut and shift so abruptly that the underwear of his defenders is usually sprayed in the front rows, as he has astounding lateral movement. That’s led to this…
AP and Doug Martin have each forced 60 missed tackles to lead NFL. CJ Spiller has forced 55, from just 198 total touches
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 18, 2012
Martin has 311 touches, while Peterson has 327. So I’ll sat it again: ummm, what?
The only remaining doubt Spiller needs to clear is whether or not he can carry a heavy workload throughout a prolonged stretch, as he’s logged 20 or more carries in a game only once this year. But that will come in time, and he can only learn to sustain the punishment of a heavy load if he, you know, gets a heavy load with some degree of regularity.
While Jackson was effective at times, he still declined significantly this year at the age of 32, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry. If there’s any hope left in this world there will be at minimum a 70-30 share in favor of Spiller next year, easily making him a top 10 running back and an early-round pick.