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To Draft or Not to Draft: Steven Jackson

You’ve all said it. “Imagine what
Steven Jackson
could do if he wasn’t playing for the St. Louis Rams.” It’s always been a fantasy owner’s fantasy to see what he could do in a high-octane offense and not have to face eight men in the box on almost every down. Well, now he has his chance in Atlanta. But, what do you make of the once surefire first-rounder?


PRO:

Atlanta’s offense is insane.
Michael Turner
wasn’t great for the Falcons last year, but he was still a very viable fantasy option. Jackson gives Atlanta the ability to not only run between the tackles, but check down to a primary running back who might actually be a threat in the passing game.


CON:

Atlanta is a pass-first offense.
Matt Ryan
has targets like
Roddy White
,
Julio Jones
,
Tony Gonzalez
and even
Harry Douglas
to get the ball downfield, and they didn’t just pay Ryan to turn around and hand the ball off. Turner only got 15 or more carries six times and only 223 on the season in 2012.
Jacquizz Rodgers
was an excellent third down back last year and it’s likely you’ll still see quite a bit of the other Oregon State product again in 2013.



PRO:

Jackson is the feature back for a legitimate contender for the first time in his career. The offense he is in will almost guarantee that he gets more red zone touches than he could ever dream of in St. Louis. The Falcons might get into the red zone more often than the Rams cross midfield this year.


CON:
The Falcons are going to make the playoffs. There are no certainties in the NFL, but you can almost pencil Atlanta into the playoffs this season. If Atlanta gets out to a big lead in their division, you can bet they’ll give their stars at least some rest. If and when they do this, it will likely be during your fantasy playoffs.



PRO:

Jackson gets a huge upgrade at offensive line. Atlanta’s offensive line may only be middle-of-the-pack, but they’re definitely better than what St. Louis was trotting out there every week. Again, the Falcons will see a lot more nickel coverages, which will also open up some holes for Jackson.


CON:

Jackson’s health is always a concern. It seems like Jackson has missed more games than he actually has, but he’s only been out of two contests in the last four years. But he is always dinged up. In the last four years, he’s been on the injury report 25 times. He’s been listed as questionable 13 times. He just turned 30 years old, and it seems like he is literally bending but not breaking.


OVERALL ANALYSIS:

At full health, he can be a top 10 running back. There’s a potential for double-digit touchdowns and 1,500 total yards. But, like with any 30-year-old running back, health is a concern. Building a fantasy team around him is risky, so I don’t see spending a first-round pick on him. But if you can get him as a RB2 in the late second or early third, I say go after him. Just be prepared to have a decent backup ready to go when you’re watching the injury report right up until game time every Sunday. 

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