He’s 34-years-old, but Fred Jackson doesn’t care.
For most of his career, Jackson wasn’t really given a shot. Coming out of Coe College (Google it), Jackson was a bit of a longshot. But fast forward eight seasons, and he’s been one of the most productive running backs in football. With over 5,000 career rushing yards and 35 total touchdowns, Jackson has been so easy to root for in his career. The captain of the Buffalo Bills, FJax gives you everything he has, every week. And after finishing as a top-12 fantasy running back in 2013, entering 2014, a familiar situation surrounded Jackson.
He again wasn’t given a shot.
Not many believed in Jackson, who is the oldest running back in all of football. But through five weeks of the season, Jackson is currently the number 15 running back in fantasy football. And while many are afraid of injury, which is 100 percent understandable, especially considering he suffered a minor ankle sprain on Sunday, should you be buying or selling the ageless wonder?
Here’s where I stand. If you can get better value for him at the moment, I’m not opposed to selling him high. But at the same token, I’m also not afraid of owning him. Many look at the Bills and see a committee approach. I, however, look at the Bills and see C.J. Spiller getting maybe one or two more carries, but Jackson doing literally anything else. Through five weeks, there are only eight other running backs in football with more snaps than Jackson, who has also doubled Spiller’s passing down snaps. And if you are in a PPR league, he’s been golden, catching 21 balls over the last three weeks, and now ranks inside the top-20 among all players in receptions. And through all of these numbers, Jackson could be even better.
Through five weeks, Buffalo is averaging a respectable 3.6 red zone scoring attempts per game, which is good for 11th in the NFL. However, their red zone offense just hasn’t gotten the job done, and with Kyle Orton under center, the offense should be at least a little improved than when EJ Manuel was at the helm.
Again, Jackson is a top-15 fantasy back without scoring a single rushing touchdown thus far. Assuming Buffalo becomes more efficient in the red zone, Jackson will score the touchdowns, as the lead goal line back. Remember, over the last two seasons, this is a guy who has seen 56 red zone carries and 36 totes from inside the 10-yard line, Last year, he ranked inside the top-five among rushers in both categories. This guy has a nose for the endzone, so the rushing scores will come. I’m not scared of buying Jackson, especially since he’s “injured” right now with a minor ankle sprain.
Antone Smith, Atlanta Falcons- Get this. Antone Smith is currently a top-20 running back through five weeks of the season. Antone Smith has only played 49 snaps through five weeks of the season. All this guy does is make big plays, posting longs of 38, 48, 54, and 74. He’s been crazy efficient, scoring over a full fantasy point every single time he touches the football. And while that clearly isn’t sustainable, it’s pretty evident that Smith is probably the Falcons’ best running back, and hopefully Atlanta realizes it. Head coach Mike Smith stated that the team needs to integrate Smith into the offense more. It wouldn’t surprise anyone, especially with Steven Jackson being old, if Smith was the starting back in Atlanta by season’s end. Buy him now on the cheap while you still can.
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions- Arguably one of the best times to buy someone low is when they are dealing with an injury. The opposing owner would love to get rid of an injured player for something in return. And I know Bell is dealing with a concussion at the moment, but it doesn’t appear to be too serious. Plus, when you add the fact that he’s played poorly to start the season, he can probably be had very cheap. Now look at his upcoming schedule, assuming he plays. He gets the Vikings, Saints at home, and then Atlanta’s lowly run defense. He could have big fantasy outings in those games, ruining your chances of acquiring him at a discount. Reggie Bush is also day-to-day with his own injury, and Bell will still see the goal line and short yardage work on an offense that should find themselves in the red zone quite often the rest of the way.
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears- During the first two weeks of the season, Marshall totaled a whopping 33.9 fantasy points. Over his last three games, however, he’s combined for just 12.9 points. He’s been dealing with an ankle injury, but appears to be 100 percent now, and the Bears are looking to get him more touches. Head coach Marc Trestman stated that his star wideout needs more targets, and we’ve seen wideouts have monster games after asking for more targets. Marshall is still an elite fantasy wideout on a terrific offense, so if you can get him on the cheap now, do it. He’s still tied for second in the league in targets from inside the 10-yard line and has seen a solid nine red zone looks. Buy him low. You won’t be able to after Week 6, especially against the Falcons lowly defense.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Do yourself a favor. The moment Martin has a good fantasy outing, sell him. I’m really not a fan of Martin, and if he doesn’t find the end zone, he’s basically useless for fantasy purposes. Bobby Rainey mixes into the equation on passing downs, and seems to be their preferred back during the two-minute drill and hurry-up situations. The offensive line in Tampa Bay hasn’t been playing very well either.
Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints- Robinson is a pretty darn good running back, averaging five yards per carry for the season. However, the Saints will be on a bye in Week 6 and then Mark Ingram is expected to return, who was playing very well before his hand injury. Once that happens, Robinson will still play, but Ingram may go back to his goal line role in the offense. Robinson’s value likely won’t be any higher than it is right now, so it’s an opportune time to take advantage and get something back for him.
Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons- Jackson is coming off a nice game against the Giants, totaling over 70 yards and a touchdown. However, if you can use this to sell him, I would absolutely do it. Jackson has now seen his yards-per-carry decline in each week this season, and as the season progresses, his body will decline as well. Besides, Atlanta suddenly has a four-headed monster in the backfield, and the young guys will see more playing time as they continue to impress (cough, cough, Antone Smith). And despite being the “starter” in Atlanta, Jackson has still seen just 136 snaps thus far, good for 33rd among all running backs.