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Fantasy Football Maniaxs


January 20, 2010 9:10 PM

Is Steven Jackson a Top 5 Fantasy Football Running Back in 2010?

By Antonino Buccellato, fantasy analyst at Fantasy Football Maniaxs

steven jackson.jpgParticipant of only 12 games each in the past two seasons, Steven Jackson's lack of TD opportunities playing on a bad team has negatively affected his fantasy football stud status.

He only scored double-digit TDs (13) in his lone full season of 2006, when he also rushed for a career-high 1,528 yards. Playing in only one full season has hampered his potential top 10 fantasy RB status.

 

In 2008, Jackson actually had 1,421 total yards, for an average of 118.5 a game, and eight TDs. While those numbers looked better, on the surface, than his previous two seasons, the problem with Jackson has been his deficiency in consistency.

In the early going of the '08 campaign he only played two monster games, in Weeks Four and Seven against Dallas and Buffalo respectively. In those games he combined for 364 total yards and four TDs (three vs. Dallas alone), accounting for 54 FPTS in basic scoring leagues.

He would never score again until Week 15 on the ground, while scoring his only receiving TD of the season in Week 14. Jackson had his best games of the season when it may have been too late for fantasy owners: from weeks 15 to 17. In that three-game run, he accumulated a spectacular 461 total yards (120 YPG) and three TDs for an estimated 64 FPTS.

Again, unless one plays in a rare 17-week fantasy league, his late efforts may have not been helpful for most owners.

In the five quality games he played that season, he combined for 118 FPTS or a 23.6 average. In the remaining seven games (72 points), he averaged a mortal 10.2 points a contest. Unfortunately, those seven games were the most crucial to any team hoping to make the playoffs after investing a high draft pick on him.

However, the drafting of T Jason Smith improved his offensive line last year, and the only concern remained his health.

 

In 2009, while he lived up to his stud potential by rushing for 1,416 yards, Jackson still only matched his rookie season career-low four TDs. Even in a non-PPR league, his 300-plus receiving yards amount to over 30 extra fantasy points any owner can use.

 

In basic scoring leagues, he finished the season in the 10th spot with 180 FPTS and was the only RB in the top 10 with the fewest scores (4). Jackson scored in double digits in 10 of 15 games and had his best stretch when it mattered this time, from Week Six to Week 13, when he accumulated 113 of his 180 points. That finally showed the consistency owners were looking for when drafting him.

 

Considering that Jackson proved his ability to carry the punch-less Rams (who managed to regress from a two-win team to a single win) in 2009, if there would ever be a year when he could become a TD machine again, 2010 would be the one, as he faces one of the easiest run schedules of all next season.

 

Jackson will have plenty of chances to gain yardage and find the end zone having to face run-friendly teams such as the Oakland Raiders (32nd vs. the run in '09), Kansas City Chiefs (31st), Detroit Lions (27th), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26th), Seattle Seahawks (25th), New Orleans Saints (24th) and Carolina Panthers (23rd).

 

The Denver Broncos (18th) and the San Diego Chargers (17h) are mediocre run stopper teams on the Rams' schedule against which Jackson could still run for decent yards.

 

The best run defenses teams that could pose a challenge to Jackson's quest to a fantastic season are the 15th-ranked Arizona Cardinals (even though he fared well against them in the only game played with 116 yards and one TD), the 14th-ranked Atlanta Falcons (although the Falcons gave up 622 receiving yards and a league-worst seven TDs to opposing RBs), the Washington Redskins (11th) and the San Francisco 49ers (10th), who limited him to 79 and 63 yards in two games last season but gave up the fourth-most receiving yards to RBs with 766.

 

The easy scheduling (based on a scheduling rotation that includes the run-amicable AFC West teams and from a 1-15 record) and the nonexistent threat of another capable Rams runner to pilfer goal line touches should enthuse owners to draft him in the top five this summer.

 

Unless some of those teams drastically improve their run defense in the offseason, Jackson could be a potential 1,700-yard runner with 10 to 15 touchdowns, making 2010 his best season ever that could see him finish as a top five running back by year's end.


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