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Steven Jackson Faces Fantasy Football Doubters Before St. Louis Rams' 2012 Opener

Steven Jackson is officially an Old Running Back. I'm not quite sure where the line is--he's been encroaching on this territory for years now--but at a seasonal age of 29, 2012 is officially the year in which he's been left for dead by fantasy football enthusiasts. The St. Louis Rams haven't proven them wrong by their own behavior, so far, drafting Isaiah Pead with a second-round pick in April and talking him up as the running back of the future. Altogether the age and the new competition has combined to heavily diminish Jackson's fantasy value, right or wrong.

But probably wrong, judging by his numbers in 2011. Jackson won't be a difference-maker again, but running backs are finding it increasingly difficult to be difference-makers at all; Jackson was a difference-maker for years, and the Rams still sucked. If age has diminished him, though, a competent backup like Isaiah Pead will keep him going a little longer on a per-carry (and per-catch) basis.

That may mean he's eventually less valuable to your fantasy football team than he is to the Rams. But in 2012, still getting the bulk of the carries, Jackson seems likely to stave off collapse for another year, especially if the rest of the Rams' offense can finally cohere around him one more time. We'll have some idea of how that looks as he and the Rams take on the Detroit Lions in what's certain to be an offense-focused Week 1 matchup.

For more updates on Sunday's Rams vs. Lions game, and up-to-the-minute score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams-Lions storystream.