2015 Fantasy Football: C.J. Spiller’s Questionable Trends
Every year there are a few head-scratching fantasy trends. This season, one has already taken the cake. That would be the re-emergence of C.J. Spiller as an RB2. According to research, mock drafts and multiple rankings, Spiller is currently the No. 20 overall running back. Despite years of disappointment, injuries and underachieving, the vast majority of people have chosen to ignore all that and only remember about eight good games he had three years ago. My assumption is that people believe he’ll go to New Orleans and become Darren Sproles, the same Sproles that has been an explosive dynamic player on three different teams. Fantasy owners will be drafting Spiller in the fifth round expecting to get Sproles or even Pierre Thomas. What they’ll actually be getting is Travaris Cadet with an injury problem.
After a lackluster first two seasons in the league, Spiller showed a ton of promise in 2012 totaling 1,703 yards from scrimmage, eight TDs and 43 receptions. He was poised to explode onto the fantasy scene as an RB1 in 2013. What he did was revert back to his old ways. The oldest active running back in the league, Fred Jackson, was clearly the superior back in Buffalo. Spiller’s yards per carry dropped by 1.4 yards to 4.6, and he only managed to score two touchdowns the entire season. He also dealt with injuries for the second time in his career. Perhaps most notably he caught 10 less passes (33) and his yards per catch dropped from 10.7 to 5.6. By the years end, Spiller ended up with only 1,118 yards from scrimmage.
Things only got worse last season. Dealing with injuries yet again, Spiller’s yards per carry dropped to 3.8. His carries were scaled back due to his inefficiency and lack of production. He only saw 78 carries and 19 receptions. He totaled 425 yards and only scored a single TD. The Bills sent him packing and the Saints brought him in to be the pass-catching back, a role they have had success with in the past.
Here’s the issue with that, Spiller has been an inconsistent pass-catcher even in his best season. In 2012, Spiller had three games with no or negative-receiving yards and two more with less than 10. He also only had more than five catches once the entire season. The Saints new pass-catching back isn’t a very good pass-catcher; he was never close to as good as Jackson in Buffalo. His production came from his big-play ability. What happens when you’ve dealt with multiple injuries, turn 28 years old and begin to lose that? Spiller doesn’t have anything to fall back on.
The starting running back Mark Ingram has had injury issues, but if he gets hurt, Khiry Robinson will be the man to receive his touches, not Spiller. You can’t make someone into something they’re not. Sproles is a special player and you can’t just reinvent that. Spiller’s strength was using his speed to get around the edge, his ability to still do that is very much in question. I wouldn’t even want him as my flex option in 10-team leagues.