Buffalo's backfield a major point of fantasy contention

Who is the team's best fantasy running back: Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, or Marshawn Lynch?

The Bills entered the 2010 NFL Draft with needs on their offensive line, needs on their defensive line, needs at quarterback, needs at linebacker. You get the idea. The team had needs all over the place, except at running back, where Jackson and Lynch appeared to be a formidable one-two punch.

So naturally, the team took Spiller, a running back, with the ninth overall pick of the first round.

The dynamic rookie is a big play waiting to happen, and the Bills obviously felt that the opportunity was too good to pass on even in the face of many more pressing needs. Perhaps the Bills are simply smarter than anybody realizes. But without upgrades in other areas, especially along the offensive line, there's no guarantee that the team will be able to exploit Spiller's explosiveness with any consistency.

Instead, the more reliable fantasy back is Jackson.

Though less spectacular than Spiller, the versatile veteran gives coach Chan Gailey options in both the running and passing game. Jackson, you'll recall, replaced the injured Lynch at the end of the 2008 season and rushed for 136 yards against New England in a game the Patriots had to win. Last year, Jackson opened the season as the starter while Lynch served a league-imposed suspension.

While he wasn't exactly Lou Gehrig to Lynch's Wally Pipp, Jackson played well enough to force the Bills to keep him on the field. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry, caught 46 passes, and gained 1,433 yards from scrimmage. He scored only four touchdowns, though, which is enough to give fantasy owners pause about any running back the Bills might put out there.

Buffalo hasn't figured out exactly how to use Spiller yet, but you can be sure that their investment means their prized rookie can be found in the backfield, in the slot, and wherever else Gailey can work him in. There's a good chance you'll even see Spiller on the field at the same time as Jackson.

Spiller's presence does mean that Lynch is on the outside looking in, though he could yet end up somewhere else before the season starts. If he stays in Buffalo, he's more of an insurance policy if Jackson falters or is injured.

Bottom line: Spiller is likely to provide the most highlight-reel material, but the Bills' best fantasy running back is still Jackson.

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