Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 6:37pm
Bills RB Fred Jackson (knee) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Jackson should be fine to face the Patriots. He has been a better start than C.J. Spiller thus far, and we expect that to continue as long as he’s reasonably healthy.
Monday, October 6, 2014, 12:37pm
Jackson's production, however, has far exceeded that of Spiller. Is the offensive line partly to blame for that? Sure, but it's the same group of blockers for each back.
The true variables are Spiller's running style and the plays the Bills call for him. More often than not, it doesn't work out.
Jackson got 46 snaps to Spiller's 25 in Week 5. Spiller has 18 more carries to Jackson but only has 12 more yards to show for it (Jackson' 43-202 vs. Spiller's 61-214). Jackson has seen more work in the passing game with 26 catches for 228 yards on 33 targets while Spiller has 13 catches for 106 yards on 14 targets. Both backs have a receiving TD. Jackson suffered a bit of an ankle injury but said he was OK after Week 5's game, however it's something to keep an eye on.
Monday, September 8, 2014, 1:28pm
Bills WR Sammy Watkins didn’t have a major impact on the game Sunday, but did play a role with three receptions for 31 yards in the overtime win. The Bills top draft choice admitted he was a bit limited by his sore ribs.
“I felt like I shot off pretty well. Coach called a great game; they managed the game. I was kind of held back from the ribs injury, but still overcame and had two or three big catches that moved the drive and played well.”
Watkins actually played 54 snaps, which was 95 percent of the total on offense (57) in the game. No other receiver, tight end or running back logged more snaps than Watkins. Robert Woods came closest with 52 snaps for 92 percent of the offensive play total.
It's good news Watkins was able to play a majority of snaps but he's clearly not 100-percent. His performance was out-shined by rookies like Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin in terms of fantasy production.
As for the Buffalo RBs, C.J. Spiller played on 30 snaps while Fred Jackson saw 26 snaps. Spiller ended up with 15 carries to Jackson's seven. Both caught three passes but one of Spiller's went for a TD.
He hasn’t made a kick return for the Bills since 2011, but RB C.J. Spiller will be the lead man on kick returns this season. Buffalo’s depth chart has Spiller is listed as the starting kick returner ahead of last year’s starter Marquise Goodwin.
Head coach Doug Marrone confirmed Wednesday that Spiller will be used on kick returns. He also dismissed any notion that it’s a risk put one of his top backs out there as a return man.
“I look at it as how many guys have been injured returning the football compared to people injured with the ball being handed off to them,” said Marrone. “I don’t view it as much of a risk as some people would. I could understand why people could see that because of the distance and the way people are running down the field. But again I don’t look at it that way. As much as we can get our playmakers out there whether it be punt returns or kickoff returns we have to make sure we explore that.”
Most fantasy leagues don't award points for return yardage, so his owners should be worried about this development. Not only does this expose him to more risk of injury, but it may impact the workload he can handle in the team's offense. Does he stay on the field after his return or does Fred Jackson start the drive? We won't know for sure until the games are played.
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 11:50am
He’s not going to be a starting running back in Buffalo, but Bryce Brown’s performance against Carolina Friday night was anything but a surprise to head coach Doug Marrone. As he sees it, he’s got the luxury of having a starting caliber back in Brown, who at best sits third on the depth chart.
Brown led the team in rushing Friday night and averaged almost six yards a carry against Carolina’s second teamers. That’s why Marrone wasn’t shocked to see Brown do so well.
“In my mind Bryce Brown is a very talented running back that has the potential to start in the NFL,” said Marrone. “So I think what happens a lot, when he is in the game I think he is one of the better players on the field. So, his production is not surprising for any one of us.”
"I don’t know if I want to get it down to three. I’ve never been a guy that has three backs playing in the game," Marrone said. "I’ve always believed, and you guys know, in the two backs. It’ll come down to two backs; the two backs going in there."
Perhaps it's time to pump the brakes on talk of Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon being significant contributors. If Marrone wants his game plan to include only two running backs then Spiller and Fred Jackson are the overwhelming favorites to land those roles.
If true, this good news for both Spiller and Jackson, who figure to combine to see the vast majority of touches in the Buffalo backfield. Last year, Jackson saw 253 touches, or 46% of the team's RB touches. Spiller saw 235 (43%), but was dinged up for most of the season. We currently have Spiller projected for 283 touches and Jackson for 194. Jackson may have some upside from there, making him an ideal RB4 still available in the 8th or 9th round.
Sunday, August 3, 2014, 6:59pm
The Bills made a bold statement during the draft – dealing away next year's first-round pick – to move up and select the best receiver in the crop, Clemson's Sammy Watkins with the fourth pick overall. Watkins is a dynamic playmaker who has had an impressive rookie camp. They also swung a deal with the Buccaneers to obtain Mike Williams, looking to rebound from a torn hamstring.
"He is the essential cog," Jackson, the eighth-year vet, told USA TODAY Sports. "We know that. He knows that. We can only go as far as he takes us."
Manuel sounds like he could face some pressure to make the playoffs this season, but after missing much of last year he's really still just a rookie in terms of games played. He does have some nice weapons to work with in the passing game but the Bills could end up being a run-first team with C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and newly acquired Bryce Brown in the backfield.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 6:06pm
The Bills were able to put the finishing touches on the announcement of a one-year extension for running back Fred Jackson. Jackson was entering the final year of his contract, which is set to pay him a base salary $2.45 million. There were no financial details announced by the team.
Jackson’s role for the 2014 season is a bit unclear with Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon joining Jackson and C.J. Spiller in the backfield. There’s been talk that the 33-year-old may be slated for a more limited role than he’s played in the past, but the extension suggests he’s still very much in the Bills’ plans now and in 2015.
This certainly indicates that the team is planning for the eventuality that Spiller won't be with the team in 2015. If he departs, Jackson could split time (or back up) Bryce Brown, whom the team traded for earlier in the year.
Brown is a decade younger than Jackson and comes to the team after piling up 4.6 yards per carry in limited action over 32 games for the Eagles. He plowed for 347 yards in back-to-back starts for Philly in 2012 but saw his snaps wither away last season under coach Chip Kelly.
He may not have much value in 2014, but Brown is shaping up to be a good dynasty acquisition, especially if Spiller and/or Jackson do not return next season.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 9:13am
Bills RB C.J. Spiller's cap number is 416 percent higher than the NFL average at his position.
This all sets the table for the Bills' upcoming negotiations with Spiller, who can become a free agent after this season. Are the Bills willing to pay Spiller top-five money for his position? Or can they get by with a rotation of younger players? I think the Bills would love to have Spiller's speed and big-play ability around for several more years, but he might still need to prove that he can be the lead horse in the backfield.
That could be tough for Spiller to prove this year, especially if he can't stay healthy. Even if he does, Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown could all be in the mix for carries, and in a previous news item here at 4for4, it sure seems like Dixon is going to be the goal line and short yardage back. The writer also thinks the team wants to develop Brown as one of the lead backs. Spiller is ranked 24th among our RBs, but his ADP is the fourth round. That all equals a pretty big risk. The later you can draft Spiller, the better value he'll be.
Sunday, June 29, 2014, 9:04am
When it came to converting third downs in the red zone or goal to go situations Buffalo all too often found themselves settling for field goals. The Bills converted just 31 percent of their third downs in the red zone last year to rank 24th in the NFL.
Enter RB Anthony Dixon. A short yardage and goal line specialist, Dixon is both nimble and a load at 6-1, 233 pounds.
“That’s one of the things I did in San Francisco and the last few years I was perfect on it,” said Dixon. “I had a goal line touchdown in the NFC Championship game last year. I feel like I’ve got that down pat. If he wants me to do that then I’m definitely capable of fixing that problem, short yardage and goal line.”
The Bills also have a bolstered offensive line this season, but the news here is Dixon's presence won't help owners of RBs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. WRs Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams could also be targets as the Bills look to improve their poor red zone numbers from last year. Despite Dixon likely stealing some short TD runs, he won't have a lot of fantasy value.
An idea that has been brought up time and time again by media and fans alike, the Bills showed off a few different looks that had both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller on the field. Predictably, Jackson was the man in the backfield while Spiller was the more athletic type that was motioned to different parts of the formation. If they can develop that and create a lot of side plays for either player based on those looks, that will be putting two of their better playmakers on the field at one time. The goal should be to continually keep a defense guessing, and a formation like that along with Sammy Watkins on the field among other options should theoretically do the trick.
One of our major reservations with Spiller is that the coaching staff isn't sure how to use him. It's encouraging that they are trying to get two of their best offensive players on the field at the same time. Both players can catch the ball so there's some potential there.
The last time C.J. Spiller was on the team’s grass practice field every step was a chore. Planting and cutting, let along straight like jogging all made his high ankle sprain throb. Spiller battled through the 2013 season with that hitch in his step. The first week of OTAs that hitch was gone.
“I don’t feel nothing, I feel great,” said Spiller. “This is the best I’ve felt since 2012 when I had that great year. The ankle feels wonderful. I just have to keep doing what I need to do to stay healthy this whole season and try to go out there and make plays.”
C.J. Spiller’s 2013 season has been well-documented. He dealt with a bad ankle sprain for most of the season and, other than a few electrifying moments, he just didn’t seem like himself. Throw in a RB1-type season from the seemingly ageless Fred Jackson and Spiller finished #27 at his position, a huge disappointment to those owners who drafted him in the first round. A healthy Spiller should fare much better in 2014, though the ever-productive Jackson is still under contract and the team acquired Bryce Brown, so there are still major workload concerns. We're also not confident that the coaching staff knows how to best utilize his skill set.
It’s hard to use the term “expanded role” for any player that had nearly 400 snaps the year before, but C.J. Spiller is the exception. By many accounts, 2013 was a disappointment for the former first-round pick. He suffered a high ankle sprain that put a damper on a good portion of his season and just never really evolved into the running back that the Bills were touting him to be ahead of last season. However, the argument can be made that the current Bills coaching staff just didn’t understand where Spiller would be most effective for the team when the regular season games started. They set incredibly lofty expectations as a workhorse back, but that’s not the type of player that Spiller is. By the time they realized what Spiller was, they were in the throes of the season and couldn’t put him in the spots he needed to be. The injury did not help the matter by any means and set the process back even more. Now that he’s fully healthy, that offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett understands where he works best and that Spiller is motivated not only by doubters, but by an expiring contract at the end of the year, it’s fair to expect a bigger output from both a snap count and yardage perspective in 2014. He won’t be that workhorse back that they hoped for, but he’ll likely have a more defined and bigger role with the type of athleticism he possesses.
C.J. Spiller’s 2013 season has been well-documented. He dealt with a bad ankle sprain for most of the season and, other than a few electrifying moments, he just didn’t seem like himself. Throw in a RB1-type season from the seemingly ageless Fred Jackson and Spiller finished #27 at his position, a huge disappointment to those owners who drafted him in the first round. A healthy Spiller should fare much better in 2014, though the ever-productive Jackson is still under contract, so there are still major workload concerns.