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Wondering whether you should draft Steven Jackson? James Lucas has the lowdown for you
Player: Steven Jackson
2012 Stats: Att: 257 Yards: 1042 TD: 4 YPC: 4.1
Current ADP: 18.3
Background: Steven Jackson is finally going to get a chance to play on a team that is going somewhere. He's finally getting a chance to play on a team that has a receiving game that will take the heat off him. When you look at a football player, this is a guy you have to like, and a guy you have to feel for. After being stuck with the Rams for the last 9 years, Jackson will finally get out of fantasy jail. Jackson is going to get the chance to play in a high powered offense, that is built to win now. He gets to play along side of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White. While he no longer will be the focal point of his respective offense, this does not hurt his fantasy value in any way. Because he is going to get a lot more quality touches as compared to the touches he was seeing with the Rams.
Jackson has been a model of consistency, putting up over 1000 yards in every season except his rookie season. And doing this on a team where the opposing defense knew he was going to run the ball, and he was going to be the focal point of the offense. Besides a hiccup in 2007 & 2008 Jackson has been a fairly healthy player, and this is not a commodity to be taken lightly. Nothing ruins a season like losing one of your big point running backs. Especially in a world of fantasy football with workhouse running backs becoming a dying breed. Jackson is currently the 11th running back on average coming off the board, and is typically coming off the board in the second round. One thing to keep in mind is that people are shying away from Jackson because they don’t know what to expect of the guy on his new team, and may fear backup running back Rodgers taking away carries from Jackson. But one thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the guys being taken ahead of Jackson also have question marks, some are untested/unproven. Just to name a few; Doug Martin, LeSean McCoy, C.J. Spiller. While I am high on Spiller, and others are too, he has never had to take on a full work load, and is being told he will be fed the ball “until he throws up”. Spiller has had some injury problems, and no one knows exactly how he will hold up. But he is being taken ahead of Jackson (and rightfully so) because he has all of the up-side in the world, and is blessed with pure football skills. But lets not forget, if you can’t stay on the field, you can’t produce for fantasy lineups.
Trent Richardson is another guy being taken ahead of Jackson, and is again someone who is coming into his sophomore season, and is coming into the season injured. And while these guys MAY out produce Jackson, it’s not safe to assume that all of them will out produce Jackson. I feel that Jackson may be a safer pick then all of these guys, but that is something you need to decide on draft day. Are you going to draft a team that is full of up-side, but slightly unproven guys? Or do you want to have some stability at the running back position, and draft a guy that has proven he can do it with a bad offense, and is finally getting a chance to do it on a high powered offense.
Reasons Jackson’s draft stock may rise: More and more articles may start coming out about Jackson as the season nears. I have seen an uptick in them (and I am adding to it), about what this guy could be capable of this year. After years of being stuck on the Rams, fantasy managers may be taking a closer look at Jackson, and reviewing the stats he put up with the Rams. And some may be shocked to find out he has rushed for 8 straight 1000 yard seasons. Jackson is the type of player that has probably fallen off the map in a lot of standard scoring (non PPR) leagues, because of the fact of his lack of touchdown production with the Rams. Jackson has seen a ridiculously low amount of touches inside the red zone as compared with other running backs. So even though he has had the yardage, he is not a top flight back without those touchdowns. It’s easy to see Jackson reaching double digit touchdowns again, thus propelling him back onto the radar of standard scoring leagues. And propelling him even higher in PPR leagues. And I feel that this speculation of what Jackson can finally do on a high powered offense is going to inflate his value as we get closer to the season, so you may see his ADP rise by the week.
Reasons Jackson’s draft stock may fall: I would say the biggest fear that some fantasy managers have about drafting Jackson is his back up Jacquizz Rodgers. Some fear that the Falcons are likely to try to get this guy more and more involved in the offense. And Rodgers is more likely then Jackson to put on a show this pre-season. Simply due to the fact, that Rodgers is going to see more touches than Jackson, and is going to be trying to prove himself more. Jackson's YPC in the preseason are a good candidate to be very low. The Falcons have an established offense, and not a lot of new pieces on offense. They are not going to need to expose a ton of their playbook on offense during the preseason. Which is going to limit Jackson to some very basic run schemes/play calls, and likely will not result in Jackson ripping off huge gains. This is an offense full of talented veteran guys, who simply don’t need the preseason work, and won’t be straining themselves out there. And then of course there is the dreaded number 30, Steven Jackson is 30 years old. And he has a lot of miles on those legs. Running backs tend to die off once they enter their 30’s, and this may scare managers away from drafting Jackson.
Conclusion: I say pull the trigger on Jackson, especially in PPR leagues. He is going late second round, and in PPR leagues, I see his value escalating. I am going to be grabbing him if I am selecting mid to late second. And I could even argue drafting him ahead of guys like Trent Richardson & Alfred Morris. I feel that Jackson is going to benefit with some wide open running lanes with the Falcons. He is going to get exponentially more chances to score from inside the 10 yard line. In the past three years combined, Jackson received a dismal 41 carries inside the opponents 10 yard line. The RB he is replacing, Michael Turner, received 102 in that same time frame. Jackson has a nose for the end zone, and I believe he is going to capitalize on these likely increased touches from inside the 10. While I don’t love the fact he is 30 years old, Jackson is the ultimate competitor. He will play through injury on losing teams, and will keep himself in the best shape he can. And that work ethic should afford Jackson the ability to get some more useful years into his 30’s. He should feel rejuvenated with the chance to play on this offense, and play for a team that is sniffing a super bowl. And I have no problem hitching my wagon to a rejuvenated work horse. Draft above ADP if you are worried about losing him, and draft with confidence. Double digit touchdowns await Jackson, and chalk up another 1000 yard season.
Twitter - @JimLucasFFW