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Why Steven Jackson may be a Fantasy Bust in 2010

One of the keys to hauling in a good draft is knowing when to go against conventional wisdom. A good example of this is with Steven Jackson. Last year,



Jackson
was the only bright spot of the offense. With little help from his team, he was still able to finish second in the league with 1,416 rushing yards and managed 4.4 yards per carry. However, from a fantasy perspective, his downfall was the fact that he only reached the end zone four times. The Rams just couldn’t get the ball downfield and with a lack of other threats, opposing defenses keyed in on



Jackson
.

With both great power and breakaway speed, Jackson is clearly one of the top five runningbacks in the league in terms of talent. Now that the Rams have Sam Bradford, it is expected that the offense will finally become multi-dimensional, and most experts have



Jackson
as one of the top six fantasy runningbacks in the league.

However, the truth is that



Jackson
may actually be in a worse position than he was last year and has little upside to become a top 5 back. While
Bradford should theoretically be an improvement at quarterback, it appears he will have to face a huge learning curve since he did not play in a pro-style offense at



Oklahoma
. In fact, even with the millions they are paying him, there is a very good chance that he will not start early in the season. Even if he does start, he is a quarterback that lacks a solid top receiver and was shown to be a big injury risk at



Oklahoma
.

This brings us to another huge problem with the Rams offense: the offensive line may be even worse this year. Right now this group is just riddled with injuries. Jason Smith, who was supposed to help the group out last year, was oft-injured and now has a fracture in his left toe. Rodger Saffold and Jacob Bell both have knee injuries. With so many injuries coming into the season for a unit that already wasn’t that good, the offense will continue to struggle to find its rhythm.

A final problem with drafting Jackson is that he is injury prone himself. He hasn’t played a full season since 2006, and this offseason he had back surgery, which one doesn’t easily recover from. He has taken a pounding the last several years, and I would be surprised if he makes it through the whole season.

So, to sum up,

Jackson
is still in a very weak offense, their talented quarterback may be a year away, the offensive line is in terrible shape, and Jackson himself is coming off back surgery. Oh, and people are drafting him as a first-round pick and as one of the top six runningbacks in most leagues.

Personally, there is no way I would draft him in the first round, and I would even hesitate on taking him in the second round. There are a number of runningbacks who aren’t as talented, but very well could have more productive seasons than



Jackson
including Shonn Greene, Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant, Pierre Thomas and Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells. These backs are in much better situations and can be drafted way later than



Jackson
.

Call me crazy, but I have Jackson ranked as the No. 15 runningback, and I predict that this year he will finish with less rushing yards than last year and also miss a few games. Let someone else in your league draft him early and take a solid lesser known runningback with upside in the third round.

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