The reasoning behind the Seattle Seahawks’ decision to bring in former Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson for a visit seemingly became clearer on Tuesday after head coach Pete Carroll revealed Robert Turbin suffered a serious ankle injury in the Hawks’ preseason matchup at San Diego on Saturday.
Speaking with reporters after Seattle’s practice in anticipation of their preseason finale Thursday, Carroll hinted that Turbin’s injury may keep him out of action for a while.
“Robert’s got a sprained ankle,” Carroll said. “It’s a significant ankle sprain. We have to see what that means. He feels pretty good about it, but it definitely showed up on the MRI and all that.”
Carroll said that Turbin got “whacked” and “rolled up on,” and that there was timetable for Turbin’s return. Carroll also said that the injury wasn’t the only reason they decided to bring in Jackson for a visit after he was released by the Bills on Monday. But now it at least makes a lot more sense.
The Seahawks currently have Robert Turbin and Christine Michael backing up Marshawn Lynch, but neither guy has taken a firm grasp of the backup role this preseason. Turbin's carried the ball 16 times for 36 yards (2.3 YPC) and has failed to manage a run longer than 8 yards. Michael is averaging 3.3 YPC on 24 attempts, and 29 of his 79 yards came on one play. On the other 23 runs, he's averaged just 2.2 YPC.
Clearly, the Seahawks feel like they need an option to complement Lynch, and that's where Fred Jackson's skill set makes some sense. The veteran's best days are behind him, but he is dependable in pass protection and comfortable as a receiving option. He had a career high 66 catches last year for 501 yards.
As for the players on the roster, Jackson signing would potentially impact Michael and/or Turbin. Michael, a second-round pick in 2013, is signed through 2016 on his rookie deal but has not been the consistent complement the coaches seem to be looking for. Turbin, a fourth-round pick in 2012, is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2015 season.
Jackson played 58.2 percent of Buffalo's offensive snaps last season. And the majority of those snaps (68.2 percent) were passing plays, the story said. He showed good hands with just two drops on 82 targets. Lynch played 737 snaps last year, sixth-most among running backs. It seems that Jackson could be used to spell him on obvious passing downs and be a legit threat out of the backfield. Should the Seahawks sign Jackson, they could look to part ways with either Michael or Turbin. It's also possible that they'd keep all three guys in addition to Lynch and go with four running backs along with a fullback.
Jackson is flying to Seattle today and is expected to sign with the Seahawks, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
In Seattle, Jackson would back up Lynch. That’s a familiar role for Jackson, who also shared a backfield with Lynch in Buffalo. The two were teammates with the Bills from 2007 to 2010.
Jackson is 34 and on the down side of his career, having averaged a career-low 3.7 yards a carry last season. But the Seahawks apparently think he has something left, and he’s about to join one of the best running offenses in the NFL.
The signing seemingly pushes Robert Turbin and Christine Michael a notch down the depth chart as Jackson is expected to backup Lynch. But Jackson may add a threat in the passing game coming of a season where he was targeted 90 times and caught 66 balls for 501 yards with the Bills. Those kind of numbers would give him value in PPR leagues if that's how the Seahawks plan to utilize him in their game plan.
Jackson, 34, has amassed over 1,000 total yards in five of the last six seasons. He started nine games and played in 14 last season.
He was due to make $2.35 million this season.
The move indicates the Bills believe LeSean McCoy, who’s been out the last two weeks, will be ready for the team’s Sept. 13 season opener. It also gives Jackson, who’s played his entire career in Buffalo, the chance to catch on with another team as a free agent. With many teams across the league dealing with injuries at the running back or just looking to bolster their backfields, Jackson likely won’t be unemployed for long.
This was a cost-cutting measure, because the 34-year-old Jackson is still able to contribute. He was a top 18 RB in PPR formats over the past two seasons, and even though his YPC (3.7) wasn't good in 2014, he's still very adept in the passing game (66 receptions, 501 yards). Karlos Williams and Anthony Dixson will be behind McCoy now. Williams had an impressive camp but suffered an undisclosed injury. He had passed Bryce Brown on the depth chart.
Bills RB Fred Jackson has been on the shelf for almost two weeks with a hamstring injury, but he was moving well in work on the side with the strength and conditioning staff Tuesday night. At this point however, he’s got to follow doctor’s orders.
“We’ve got to follow the protocol, but we want to get back out there,” said Jackson in reference to himself and Anthony Dixon. “Obviously we’re hurting, but the more numbers that we have that’s going to take a lot (of reps) off everybody’s plate. So we’ll try to get back out there as soon as we can.”
Jackson figures to back up LeSean McCoy, who is dealing with a hamstring injury of his own. Running backs coach Anthony Lynn said he’d like to cut Jackson’s snaps/workload in half, so barring a long-term injury to McCoy, don’t expect F-Jax to rack up 14-plus touches per game like he did in 2014. However, even if we slice his PPG in half (to 6.7 per game in PPR formats) and extrapolate over a full, 16-game season, we end up with RB4-type numbers. He has upside from there if anything happens to McCoy.
The Buffalo Bills have sustained several injuries to their deep group of players at running back, giving way to youth further down on the depth chart. Fred Jackson is sidelined with a hamstring injury while Anthony Dixon is also out with a calf ailment. Even LeSean McCoy has missed practice time.
In Jackson and Dixon's absence, Bryce Brown and rookie Karlos Williams have been asked to step up. For Brown, he's done just the opposite, fumbling three times in camp, one of which came during the team's scrimmage on Saturday. It was clear Rex Ryan took notice.
"The fumble was disappointing, to put it mildly," Ryan said via ESPN. "Because he was having a nice day, and then it was like ... every single team is going to be attacking that football. And you just can't have it. I don't care how many -- if you carry it 300 times, you have to hold on to that sucker. And that's what we're counting on as a team."
The quickest way to find yourself on the bench as a running back is to put the ball on the ground. Unsurprisingly, his fumbling issues have led Brown to tumble down the depth chart. In his place, the Bills will look to Williams to play a bigger role.
Brown has proved he's a talented back, but has had a fumbling issue dating back to his days with the Eagles. Williams is getting more work but likely still falls behind at least Jackson and McCoy when the games start. If injuries continue to be an issue, though, Williams could be a name to remember.
Bills coach Rex Ryan announced Friday that Jackson would miss a couple of weeks of practice with a hamstring injury. Hamstring injuries are notoriously tricky to recover from, especially ones that are serious enough to force a player out of action for weeks. The Bills have Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon behind LeSean McCoy at running back, although Jackson had been taking the No. 2 team reps in camp thus far.
Running backs coach Anthony Lynn said he’d like to cut Jackson’s snaps/workload in half, so barring an injury to LeSean McCoy, don’t expect F-Jax to rack up 14-plus touches per game like he did in 2014. However, even if we slice his PPG in half (to 6.7 per game in PPR formats) and extrapolate over a full, 16-game season, we end up with RB4-type numbers. He has upside from there if anything happens to LeSean McCoy. We have a tough time believing that the Bills would cut Jackson after his versatile 1,026-yard season in 2014.
He didn’t set the lofty standard for himself that came with being a top-five draft pick. The Bills did that after making a stunning trade with the Cleveland Browns to vault from No. 9 to No. 4 overall to select Watkins. By paying the exorbitant price of first- and fourth-round choices in 2015 to make the climb, they instantly identified him as the primary solution to making EJ Manuel look much more like the first-round quarterback he didn’t look like as a rookie in 2013.
Fair or not, Watkins had to live with that label and the expectations that came with it. Ultimately, his 65 catches (tying him with Robert Woods for second on the team behind the 66 of running back Fred Jackson) for 982 yards and six touchdowns didn’t come remotely close to fulfilling them. Manuel was benched after four games, and the Bills proceeded to miss the playoffs for a 15th consecutive year.
Worse for Watkins was the fact that, in a draft packed with superb receiving talent, he took a seat many rows behind Odell Beckham Jr., who caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns for the New York Giants, the story said. Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin and Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans were also having more productive seasons and all those guys were taken after Watkins in the 2014 NFL Draft. Watkins is also behind the above WRs in our rankings for this season, coming in 30th. We project a much better season for Watkins (75-1,027-5.9), who has a QB situation more in question than the above players. He's shaping up to be a mid-range WR3 for fantasy teams and could benefit more with some QB stability.
While Bills running backs coach Anthony Lynn would like to see LeSean McCoy’s workload stay the same, he’d prefer if Fred Jackson’s was scaled back. Jackson played 548 snaps last season, a number Lynn said he’d like to see cut in half.
“I think he wore down a little bit at the end of the season,” Lynn said. “If we could take half of that off his plate, I think you’re going to see a fresher Fred Jackson and a more explosive Fred Jackson.”
We currently have Jackson projected to touch the ball 114 times after he racked up 207 touches in 14 games last season, so Lynn's expectations mostly jibe with our projections. As for McCoy, he's going to have a tough time matching the 340 touches he had in 2014 due to the potency and pace of the Philadelphia offense compared to the Buffalo offense. We do have McCoy projected to see 329 touches since OC Greg Roman and HC Rex Ryan both love to run the ball. Just don't expect McCoy's receptions to increase; Roman barely used the very capable Frank Gore in a pass-catching role while calling plays in San Francisco the last few seasons.
In an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Bills QB E.J. Manuel said his commitment to the quarterback position has reached a point of singular fixation, and attributes it to the adversity he faced last season when he was benched after just four starts.
“I think what I went through that’s just what made me grow up. That was true adversity in my playing career,” Manuel said. “As far as the competitive edge I have now, it’s crazy. It’s almost an obsession now as far as mastering this position and mastering this offense and mainly the fundamentals and mechanics of the game. Why not spend all my time doing that? There’s really nothing else to do right now. The main thing is just being all in and investing in yourself.”
Manuel insists his throwing accuracy is much improved after working for four months this offseason with former NFL QB Steve DeBerg. He credits DeBerg with eliminating the wind up in his throwing motion that compromised his accuracy. His throwing motion is much more compact now and he feels his accuracy is much improved.
The team acquired Matt Cassel in the offseason and he's likely to start unless Manuel is able to make big strides. There are a lot of weapons in Buffalo, but under new OC Greg Roman the team is likely to utilize a run-heavy approach (with LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson) and rely on its defense to win games.
"We try and give (the ball) to the guys who are going to do something with it, and I think he's going to be one of those guys who's going to force us to give him the ball more," Caldwell said last week at the NFL owners meetings. "I think you're really going to see him come along."
Caldwell expects Riddick's role to grow next season, though that could depend on what kind of tailback the team adds in April's draft. Riddick is a plus-plus pass catcher out of the backfield, but hasn't shown any kind of chops yet on the ground -- yet.
"He has all the qualities. Here's the thing -- if you're smart, if you're tough, if you're disciplined, if you have a great work ethic, there's improvement ahead. And he has all those things. So I think he's going to improve, and I think he's going to force us to get him the ball a little bit more in some situations."
Reggie Bush’s departure should give Riddick the opportunity to shine as the team's primary passing down back. He averaged 5.0 catches for 53 yards for 13.2 fantasy points in PPR formats in the five games that Bush missed last season. That's about what Fred Jackson averaged as the #17 running back in 2014. If the Lions don't add a running back early in the draft, then Riddick should be a sleeper in PPR formats.
Update: It's five-year, $40 million deal that includes $26.5 million guaranteed.
It's said to be a five-year, $40 million contract that includes $26.5 million guaranteed. This looks like a system downgrade for McCoy, who ran much better later in the season once his offensive line started to get healthy. In Buffalo, new HC Rex Ryan and new OC Greg Roman (formerly of San Francisco) both have a history of running ball control, run-first teams, but the Bills have serious quarterback issues. Free agent C.J. Spiller isn't likely to re-sign and the acquisition of McCoy has to be a downgrade for Fred Jackson. As for McCoy, he's still a fantasy RB1, though he carries more risk since the Buffalo offense could struggle to score points. Given the way the Eagles like to run the ball, whoever emerges as the starter in Philadelphia will carry early round value.
Nothing can be finalized until next week, but if the trade does indeed go through, it's a blockbuster. This looks like a system downgrade for McCoy, who ran much better later in the season once his offensive line started to get healthy. In Buffalo, new HC Rex Ryan and new OC Greg Roman (formerly of San Francisco) both have a history of running ball control, run-first teams, but the Bills have serious quarterback issues. Free agent C.J. Spiller isn't likely to re-sign and the acquisition of McCoy has to be a downgrade for Fred Jackson. As for McCoy, he's still a fantasy RB1, though he carries more risk since the Buffalo offense could struggle to score points. Given the way the Eagles like to run the ball, whoever emerges as the starter in Philadelphia will carry early round value.
After finishing in the top 20 for three straight seasons in PPR points per game (including #6 in 2013), Bush was #32 in that category last season. His departure should solidify Joique Bell's workload and give Theo Riddick the opportunity to shine as the team's primary passing down back. Bell finished #14 in standard formats and #13 in PPR, so he should continue to produce high-end RB2 numbers provided he stays healthy and the Lions don't make any major moves at running back. As for Riddick, he averaged 13.2 fantasy points (in PPR formats) in the five games that Bush missed last season. That's about what Fred Jackson averaged as the #17 running back in 2014.
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