People have been waiting for Steven Jackson to collapse under the pressure of being the St. Louis Rams' only competent skill player for something like four years now, and as he nears 30 the possible Hall-of-Famer is hearing it even more often: Deadspin more or less wrote that he'd be ground into a fine dust as the lead NFC West story in their fantasy football preview, for instance. But while Jackson's not the first-round pick he used to be, he still has a place among the second tier of fantasy football running backs, even in 2012.
His 2011 season was one of the few bright spots in an irredeemably dark offense; a year after setting a career low with 3.8 yards per carry he bounced back to his career high, 4.4, thanks in part to taking the ball three times fewer per game. The installation of a useful backup—Cadillac Williams, last year—was one of Josh McDaniels's few innovations to stick after that erstwhile genius's unceremonious exit; now the Rams have rookie Isaiah Pead, who is also considered their future at the position.
That gives Jackson the time off he needs at this point in his career—whether he wants it or not. He might not ever top 1200 yards again on the ground, but in 2012 he's likely to remain an efficient option in a Rams offense that might even improve enough to get him more than six touchdowns.