Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson is in the middle of a speedy recovery from a knee injury, but fantasy owners must exercise caution before jumping back on the Jackson bandwagon.
Jackson injured his knee in Week 1, and it was expected he would miss a big chunk of the season as a result. It now looks like he might be on the field for the Bills' Week 4 contest against the New England Patriots.
Chris Brown of the Bills Blog provided this quote from head coach Chan Gailey.
Fred will practice this week. I don’t know if it’ll be Wednesday or Thursday, but he should practice some time this week. His recovery has been amazing.
Jackson's quick recovery is happening at the perfect time for the Bills. C.J. Spiller, who took over starting duties for Jackson during his injury, injured his shoulder, and by all accounts, he will not be able to take the field for the next game. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora provided us with this tidbit:
RB CJ Spiller has sprained A/C joint, not separated shoulder. Great news for Bills Likely 1-2 week injury, Fred Jackson should play Sun— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 24, 2012
So despite the rash of running back injuries, the Bills may be in decent shape. The same cannot be said for fantasy owners of Jackson.
I am sure the Bills would love to give Jackson the ball 30 times for this next game, but that is not exactly realistic. Jackson will have to work back into game shape, and it is doubtful his knee will be 100 percent for that game.
That will limit his fantasy production next Sunday, and that production will stay limited.
The Bills are a team destined for running-back-by-committee status, and my guess is that Jackson will be headed for a future average of 10-15 touches a game when both he and Spiller are healthy.
Spiller has gained 308 rushing yards this season at 9.1 yards per carry. How do you keep a back like that off the field? You don't.
Meanwhile, Jackson is far too good and complete a back to be relegated to the bench, and the Bills will find a way to use him, but with Spiller's performances demanding touches, Jackson is not going to be given the chance to produce enough to be a viable starting option.
Now, there is a chance that Spiller's injury will take longer to heal, or that he will get injured again. This would again make Jackson an elite fantasy back, but to hang on to Jackson for this reason would be to gamble that Jackson is going to enjoy better health than another running back, and that is not a good gamble.
For now, Jackson does not have a bright enough future to warrant a roster spot.