Fantasy Football

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.

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4 Comments

  1. cogwheel
    July 23, 2015 at 12:40 pm — Reply

    Bad article, poorly researched and / or simply prejudiced.

    First of all, it plainly overrates Sproles as part of its central argument, to try and defeat that comparison to Spiller.

    Sproles was never more than a gadget player for the Chargers, and the same remained true in Philly last year. He never managed a thousand yards from scrimmage in San Diego, and in the season he was given his most carries for them, he was at his worst, posting a 3.7 YPC (and he was healthy that year). Why? San Diego couldn’t get him into space that season, and misutilized him. So he predictably struggled. Then he joined the Saints, and promptly blew up under Payton and Carmichael’s innovative, space-creating brilliance.

    All of that mirrors Spiller current situation and recent history, except unlike Sproles with the Chargers, Spiller actually had a statistically elite year as a Bill in 2012.

    The writer also completely fails to acknowledge just how comically incompetent Marrone and the pet OC he brought with him from Syracuse were in using Spiller. Spiller isn’t at fault for an offense coordinated by a 33 year old that clearly wasn’t ready to be an NFL OC, and couldn’t conceive of any other scheme usage than simply pounding Spiller up the gut of a mediocre offensive-line on every touch.

    Also interesting is the fact that Reggie Bush — another Spiller comparable — had his least efficient pro years when Marrone was coordinating New Orleans’ offense. It’s not a coincidence that the Saints O didn’t really blow up until Carmichael became OC, replacing Marrone.

    Bad article, poorly researched and / or simply prejudiced.

    First of all, it plainly overrates Sproles as part of its central argument, to try and defeat that comparison to Spiller.

    Sproles was never more than a gadget player for the Chargers, and the same remained true in Philly last year. He never managed a thousand yards from scrimmage in San Diego, and in the season he was given his most carries for them, he was at his worst, posting a 3.7 YPC (and he was healthy that year). Why? San Diego couldn’t get him into space that season, and misutilized him. So he predictably struggled. Then he joined the Saints, and promptly blew up under Payton and Carmichael’s innovative, space-creating brilliance.

    All of that mirrors Spiller current situation and recent history, except unlike Sproles with the Chargers, Spiller actually had a statistically elite year as a Bill in 2012.

    The writer also completely fails to acknowledge just how comically incompetent Marrone and the pet OC he brought with him from Syracuse were in using Spiller. Spiller isn’t at fault for an offense coordinated by a 33 year old that clearly wasn’t ready to be an NFL OC, and couldn’t conceive of any other scheme usage than simply pounding Spiller up the gut of a mediocre offensive-line on every touch.

    I’m guessing the writer here has Ingram on a dynasty roster or two. Well, bud, prepare for Ingram to be painfully TD dependent in fantasy, because Spiller will be the one hogging the pass-targets in an offense that throws more to RBs than any other team in the NFL. With Thomas, Cadet, and Sproles all gone, Spiller will be getting nearly all of those targets now.

  2. cogwheel
    July 23, 2015 at 12:44 pm — Reply

    Oh, and the article also fails to account for how Marrone forced Spiller to play on a high-ankle sprain nearly all of 2013 because he just refused to let him actually sit for a few weeks and heal it.

    Marrone and Hackett couldn’t find their own butts with a map in Buffalo, and that isn’t CJ Spiller’s fault.

  3. July 25, 2015 at 9:59 pm — Reply

    The same coaches that made the Bills the second ranked rush offense in the league in 2013 and allowed the oldest running back in the league to thrive in the offense? The comparisons to Sproles are based on watching film, it has nothing to do with their role or which team they played for. It has everything to do with their individual abilities and skill set.

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