Four Downs: Fred Jackson, weekly starter? 

November, 29, 2010
Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson wasn't a popular fantasy start in Week 12, which was understandable because he was facing the Pittsburgh Steelers. That defense is terrific, the toughest against opposing running backs in fantasy. I still ranked Jackson 20th at running back for the week, a rating that was still within starter range but not indicative of how well he had been running the ball. I didn't feel great about him, but I didn't have any problem leaving him active in two leagues, one as a starting running back.

However, I think there's more to why Jackson was active in a somewhat embarrassing (in hindsight) 23.3 percent of standard leagues in Week 12. Clearly people still don't trust him. I mean, c'mon, among the running backs active in more leagues in Week 12 were two players on actual injured reserve and out for the season (DeAngelo Williams and Ryan Grant), several players ruled out for the week (Joseph Addai, Pierre Thomas and Ryan Mathews) and a slew of others who just were worse plays (Beanie Wells, Danny Woodhead and Jahvid Best). Granted, there are plenty of mismanaged (or unmanaged) teams out there, but the low percentage shows that fantasy owners still had something against Jackson entering this week.

[+] EnlargeFred Jackson
Timothy T. Ludwig/US PresswireFred Jackson fought through a physical matchup Sunday to produce 21 respectable fantasy points.
After Jackson's third consecutive performance of 20-plus fantasy points, with 21 points against the mighty Steelers on Sunday, I'd argue there's little reason to fear using Buffalo's main running back going forward. And yes, this is despite the possible return of rookie C.J. Spiller (hamstring) as early as Week 13. Sure, Spiller happens to have been the first running back chosen in the 2010 NFL draft (No. 9 overall), but it means nothing now. He hasn't played in weeks, and the last time he topped three fantasy points in a game was in Week 3. I've been trumpeting Jackson since August, and although it took a few months longer than I expected, it's clear he can be trusted now.