It was followed by a weekly performance tracker for the 2008 first round RBs, focusing on how SJAX fared against them. That can be found here: Steven Jackson: Beast or Bust
With all of that out of the way, I would like to say that I really wanted to pick someone else for this thread, this year. Brian Westbrook was an option, but it seems fantasy football owners are catching on to his shortcomings and he is not being selected until the second round in many formats.
I don't have anything against SJAX, per se. He is an incredible talent who is in a bad situation. Unfortunately, people are still selecting him with the 5th overall pick in redraft mocks. I can't ignore that.
OK. On to the analysis.
Why the love affair with SJAX? The answer is 1528 yards rushing, 90 receptions, 806 yards receiving, and 16 total touchdowns. That's what Jackson tallied in 2006, three football seasons ago. When drafting in each of the last three years, people tend to remember his monster games. What they don't remember is his inconsistency. Sure Jackson finished 2008 with 1400 total yards on a bad St. Louis team, but how many weeks did he actually contribute to an owner's fantasy success? Click on this link (Steven Jackson: Beast or Bust) and you will see that of the 15 fantasy weeks last year, SJAX contributed only 7 times and only 3 of those weeks were 1st round draft-pick beastly numbers. The other 8 games, Jackson was injured or M.I.A. That is miserable production for a guy who is supposed to carry your fantasy franchise. But last year is last year, right? So why aren't things going to get better?
1. The Rams still suck. In the last two years, the Rams have won five times. Well, nine times if you count the preseason. Lousy teams don't run the ball. They spend the better part of 2nd halves playing catch-up, passing more often, and trying to figure out how to consistently stop having to convert on 3rd and 23. Spags will help instill a winning attitude in STL, but this team needs more than attitude to win this year. It needs talent. NBC Sports has them ranked 31/32 teams. Preseason power rankings: No 31 - Rams
2. The Rams passing "attack." Tory Holt: gone. Donnie Avery: out 4-6 weeks. Marc Bulger: back for another season? Sheesh! Bulger returns at QB this year - or he will after his broken pinkie heals. Either way, Bulger is no longer a league MVP and he is barely a servicable QB. Disagree with me? OK...where are you drafting him in your fantasy league? He is also fragile, missing games in 5 of the last 6 seasons. However, they've got Kyle Boller at backup and everyone knows he lit it up in BAL! Opening Day WRs will be Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton, and Derek Stanley. Bottom line, defenses will stack the box against SJAX because the Rams have: a) no viable receivers b) no reliable QB c) weak pass protection Think that only helps SJAX and his pass receptions will go up? Maybe they will at first, but again - defenses will key on SJAX and the Rams will have to look to other playmakers to move the sticks - right now they have no other playmakers. And, if no one else moves the sticks, SJAX will lose touches.
3. The offensive line still sucks. Center, Jason Brown, is the offseason's biggest acquisition on the OLine, and is expected to contribute heavily. After that, the talent drops off substantially. Jason Smith is coming in at RT, but he is still a rookie. Word out of Rams camp is that his run blocking is coming along nicely, but he is struggling with his pass protection, and he still has to win the starting job from Adam Goldberg (but that is thought to be a foregone conclusion). Alex Barren is back at LT and is fairly consistent, but not all-pro. LG, Jacob Bell, was in for all of two plays in the first preseason game before he was taken out with a head injury. He was brought in as a savior for the OLine last year, but at the end of the year, the St. Louis Time Dispatch dubbed him a huge bust. RG, Richie Incognito, was inconsistent all last season and returns as a starter this year only because the Rams failed to address this positon.
4. Jackson is fragile. He has missed 8 games in the last two seasons. That is 25% of his games. Can you afford for your top draft pick to miss 4 games for you next year? Also, FB Mike Karney, brought in to block for Jackson, busted up his ankle and has been limited in practice for the last two weeks.
5. 2006 was a long time ago. Stop living in the past people. SJAX is a great talent, but people keep expecting him to replicate that season. It ain't gonna happen this year.
In sum, don't draft SJAX. If he falls to round 2, then go for it. But he won't and therefore, I recommend selecting someone who has less question marks around him; someone more reliable; and someone more consistent week in and week out.
OK. Let me hear the hate. I know there are some stauch SJAX supporters here at the Cafe so let's here why I am wrong. I do want to reiterate, that I wanted this thread to be about someone else this year, so if you have a better idea as to whom is more of a RB, 1st round bust, then post it here.
"There is no charge for awesomeness or attractiveness." - Po (Kung Fu Panda)
No hate, just a bit more...optimism?...for S-JAX. My reasoning will be in the context of PPR, which is the only leagues I play in.
1) Donnie Avery is missing lots of time, creating an offense with few passing options. He will be option 1 or 2 in the regular PASSING offense.
2) He is not in a RBBC and will get all the work, including goal-line touches. I don't think 12 rushing TD's is out of the question. If his blocking is improved, he could get some serious rushing numbers. And this is a possibility, with the addition of Jason Smith and the fullback Mike Karney.
3) Jackson will get a lot of work in form of dump-offs, as the O-Line in St. Louis is still average at best and Bulger could be under siege at times. Couple that with the Rams often playing from behind, the PPR implications are significant. 90 catches again (2006 total)? Possible. See, the Rams are switching to a new West Coast offense and the attack will pretty much be hinged on Jackson. He'll likely see an increase in receptions and overall touches = MONSTER numbers. Pat Shurmur is Spagnuolo's new offensive coordinator. You know where he coached? Yup, Philly. Guess what running back he gave the ball to in his Eagles offense...
4) Jackson - back in January - was calling for more passes, as he knows that's his strength. Then they hired a new Offensive Coordinator.
5) Detroit, New Orleans, and Arizona. Defenses that can be run on, that he faces in '09.
6) His numbers from last year were impressive, given the number of game he missed. So if he stays healthy...
7) Regarding his health: what changed during this past offseason was his hitting the weights more aggressively than he had in the past, due to a new strength coach. He has worked harder on route-running and is stronger. (from http://www.kffl.com/player.php/9270/nfl) This bodes well for avoiding the "freak" injury.
Could he get hurt? Sure. He runs like Marion Barber, and it sometimes surprises me that he gets back up after a tackle. But i think the potential upside - in PPR- is worth the risk. If he's going to repeat '06, this is the year. ANY running back can get injured, and it appears his back is fine...right now. I'll take him in front of LT in the middle of round one.
This is a great read. Jackson continues to fall on my fantasy sheet as I tweak it heading into draft day (three weeks roughly). He started off at #5, but has fallen to #9 (partially because of Avery's injury).
There's no doubt he's a great player, and possibly even the best running back in the league. If all I needed to do was win one fantasy game, Jackson might be my top choice. But I don't need to win one fantasy game; nor do I need to win 12. I need to win 16, and that's impossible if my best player is always hurt.
Guys like Chris Johnson and Frank Gore should go before him in drafts, but they won't and hopefully I'll be one of the benefactors of that.
I really like your article.. you did your research when doing this and none of the troll bull! However You have to also look at other possible 1st rounders that fit the exact same mold! MJD being one... Chris Johnson
Ill use those 2 as examples lets examine: MJD: Garrard is QB... and an Aging Holt at WR as the only remotely decent threat! Oh lets not forget the Under achieving Line CJ4.25: Collens? Really? This is bad but i cant think of one WR other than Gage and i wouldn't touch that guy in a 20 man league
Based on those added variables how would you Rate these QB's? Bulger, Collins, Garrard? Would any even make your back up? How bout WR1's on the teams Avery, Holt, Gage? out of those i might have Holt as my WR5 on my team but he would maybe see the line up on bye weeks. What are we to do then? Despite the things going against them they find ways to produce. As the main weapons on their teams they have the oppertunity to receive a butt load of touches! Well CJ4.25 less oppertunity than MJD and Sjax
So why draft any of those guys with your precious 1st round pick? Why because you cant deny their talent! Despite all their situations they put up numbers! Fantasy is what evens the field! Anything can happen on any given Sunday! Based on Last year you know who the consistants were? Fitz, Warner, AJ, Jennings, Cal Johnson, AP, D Williams, Slaton, Forte, Brees, Rodgers, Rivers! They were sure things week in week out at their respective positions! Some over come adversity Guys like Calvin, A Bryant CJ4.25, MJD and Bowe and So on.... the best Approach is Getting both Consistant players and Risk Reward on your team! Me i like to start off with a Consistant guy in the first!
It should be Why you should be careful of using your first round pick on SJax! I personally have no problem drafting SJax with my 5th-7th Pick but you bet ur arse that i follow him up with a Consistant back!
My two cents.... great read and valid points!
QB Vick, Schaub RB Rice, Gore, Brad, Hightow, Jacobs WR V Jax, M Will T, Ocho, Marsh, Maclin TE [b]Lewis[/b}
Good stuff. I'm staying away from SJax this year unless he falls to me in the 2nd round... which likely isn't happening. I'll take CJ, Slaton, Gore... and even Moss, Andre, or Calvin J ahead of him at the #7 spot. He may have the potential to be the #1 back, but I'm not after potential... I want to win games. SJax should get plenty of work and that worries me even more w/ his injury risks. I can see him putting up 3 HUGE games and then disappearing. No thanks.
I also give the same advice for Westy. I won't draft him unless he falls to the 3rd, which is unlikely in PPR.
2010 12-team .5PPR QB - Ryan, Vick RB - S. Greene, Forte, Stewart, F. Jones, Sproles WR - Moss, Megatron, NYG Smith, Floyd, M. Williams (TB) TE - Cooley D - CIN (week to week) K - Bironas
Great article and homework. I personally am staying away from S Jax until he proves he can be an RB1 again, which in that Rams offense may never happen. S Jax is a great talent, but like you said, just on the wrong team. He has no one to stretch the field for him like Holt and Bruce did and most importantly, his o-line his bad. Most good RBs run behind a solid o-line (unless your name was Barry Sanders). He also has only played 16 games ONCE in 5 seasons. As an RB2, who doesnt want 1400totyds/7-8tds, thats awesome...as first rounder and RB1, he will kill your fantasy squad.