It’s time for the annual NFL combine and that means all 32 teams will be scouting the next batch of talent.Looking at the draft this year, it is the offensive and defensive lineman that appear to be the “cream of the crop.” What if a team needs a running back?
In a pass-heavy league it is easy to choose running backs later in drafts due to their short life spans in the NFL. In the last four NFL drafts, no more than three running backs have been taken in the first round. Why would a team want to spend an early pick on a running back in a pass-heavy league? If a scout sees a running back who is 6’2″, 240 lbs. and can run a 4.5 forty, can catch out of the backfield and pass-protect, that can open some eyes. So who might that be in the 2013 draft?
In the 2004 NFL draft that running back was Steven Jackson out of Oregon State. Jackson has accumulated over 10,000 rushing yards and 3,300 receiving yards in his career as a Ram. Why would St. Louis be so quick to give up on a guy like Jackson? The Rams are set to owe S-Jax $7 million dollars to keep him, but they are over the cap for 2013. With the emergence of Daryl Richardson last season and Isaiah Pead in waiting, the Rams can afford to cut ties with Jackson and allow him to test the free agent market.
Steven Jackson’s history in fantasy football has been declining over the last few years primarily due to three different offensive systems in the last 3 years. While trying to grow comfortable in each new system, Jackson has still been able to grind out over 1,000 yards rushing and over 35 receptions and 300 yards receiving in each of those three years.
Where does this leave S-Jax fantasy owners if he parts ways with the Rams? Jackson owners may be excited to know there are several places that may want his services. The Falcons, Packers, Lions, Colts or Steelers are all possible landing spots for Jackson’s services. All of these offenses have much more to offer to Steven Jackson and his potential production than the Rams have over the last five seasons. In fact, Steven Jackson has been the lone bright spot on a stagnant St. Louis offense that rarely produced.
Steven Jackson’s Fantasy History
|Year||Touches||Rushing yards||AVG||Receptions||Yards||TD||RB Rank||Rams Off Rank|
Jackson has never finished lower than the #17 running back in fantasy rankings in the last five seasons and the St. Louis Rams have never been higher than 23rd in total offense in the NFL over that same span. Jackson has been on a terrible offensive team and still has put up solid RB2 numbers every year since 2008.
At this point Steven Jackson’s future is a question mark, but if he were to become a free agent his production could see a huge boost depending on where he lands. By looking at each location individually we might gain some more insight into the possible landing places.
Atlanta Falcons- Many fantasy owners are jumping on the Jacquizz Rodgers bandwagon assuming that Michael Turner will be cut ,due to salary cap issues and declining skill-set. Jackson would be a perfect fit in the passing attack and in goal line situations. If Jackson takes on all of Turner’s responsibilities as the work-horse back, he could conceivably finish the season with 1200 total yards and 10 TD.
Detroit Lions- The loss of Jahvid Best might call for the addition of a player like Reggie Bush rather than Jackson. You can’t deny Jackson’s pass catching abilities in a high powered passing attack. Jackson would be a dual-threat rusher, taking touches from Mikel LeShoure and Joique Bell. If LeShoure is still lacking explosiveness from the ruptured Achilles, expect the Lions to take a chance on a veteran running back that can restore some leadership to the locker room in Detroit.
Green Bay Packers- The running back situation is ever changing in Green Bay. They have not had a consistent, yet durable running back in place for the last couple of years. Jackson would be implemented into another pass-first offense that would act as a good safety valve while also still possessing enough ability to move the chains as a tough runner. If Jackson were to get the majority of the carries in Green Bay he could potentially be an RB1.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Last season was miserable for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The loss of Rashard Mendenhall for the first half of the season, coupled with injuries to Ben Roethlisberger, hurt the Steelers in the “Black and Blue” division. Adding Jackson would bring back some physicality to the running game and give them a dual-threat running back. With the possible loss of Mike Wallace, the Steelers will need an upgrade in the running game. The addition of Jackson could mean low RB1 numbers.