It's just about time for fantasy football rankings season to begin, which means it's time to have our running back ratings talk. That is, the same one we have every year with potential owners outside the St. Louis Rams news-bubble who want to know just how much RB Steven Jackson has in the tank.â†µ
My answer, this year, is positive enough: He's got more left than I thought he did after 2010. That year, in spite of various nagging injuries, he was constantly the first option in an offense that couldn't afford not to go in his direction, and his per-carry production suffered for it, falling below four yards for the first time in his career. In 2011 the Rams signed Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood for the express purpose of giving Jackson a break, and while Norwood fizzled and Williams struggled to stay healthy the overall plan was a success: Jackson's carries declined but his production shot back up.
This year the Rams have finally brought in a rookie to spell Jackson—and perhaps replace him, eventually. Isaiah Pead is a smaller, faster back who will look great in a complementary role, so don't expect Jackson's carries to bounce back up to 2010 levels. At the same time, Jeff Fisher likes to run, and Pead is no threat to Wally Pipp Steven Jackson this year.â†µ
Jackson will get his carries at something like 2011 rates, but the major variable in his fantasy football production will be the team's offense as a whole. He might finally put together another 10-touchdown season if the team can improve on last year's cataclysmically bad offensive numbers. And if that happens, I expect this annual fantasy football rankings talk will be much more exciting in 2013.â†µ