Jackson: possible first-round target
Posted Mar. 25 at 04:40 PM
I think I might have found the guy I’ll be selecting in the first round in a lot of drafts this summer. Steven Jackson. He had the injury-plagued washout season last year, but I think he’ll rebound.
His offensive line will be better. Orlando Pace will be back. Jackson has played without him for most of the last two years. The Rams signed guard Jacob Bell away from Tennessee for $36 million over six years. Mostly, the offensive line will just be healthier.
He’s a great back. Even last year, Jackson wasn’t all that bad. He got hurt early in the year and was held back playing on a bad team with a bad offensive line, but Jackson in the second half of the season was actually the game’s No. 5 fantasy back – 728 rushing yards, 28 catches for 205 receiving yards and 7 TDs (5 rushing, 1 receiving, 1 passing) in his final eight games. He’s a big, fast, mean dude who runs people over.
The Al Saunders factor. Saunders will be the St. Louis offensive coordinator this year, and Saunders is a big believer in building an offensive with a strong running game. When Saunders was in the same position with Kansas City from 2001 to 2005, his offensives featured three of the top 11 running backs of the last 20 years (Priest Holmes twice and Larry Johnson). And Saunders’ offensives the last two years in Washington did well with the run as well, with Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts combining for 3,274 rushing yards, 1,178 receiving yards and 25 TDs in 32 games. Saunders’ offenses the last seven years have racked up a ton of rushing touchdowns: 16, 26, 32, 31, 26, 13 and 15.
I believe Saunders will do some fine-tuning and get Jackson back on track, and that Jackson will be a busy, busy man. Saunders likes using his tailbacks as pass catchers. Portis (who doesn’t catch as well as Jackson), caught 47 passes last year. In Kansas City, Holmes had three straight years with 60-plus receptions. Jackson is a terrific receiver; he had the 90-catch season two years ago.
It’s early. I haven’t looked at two thirds of the teams. But I like what I see with Jackson. LaDainian Tomlinson is starting to get old. Adrian Peterson isn’t much of a pass catcher and is more likely to get hurt. My spider sense is telling me that Jackson might sneak ahead of those guys and be the No. 1 running back in all of the land. And coming off a crappy year, he might come relatively cheaply on draft day.
Posted by Paul Owers | Mar. 26 at 02:13 AM
I agree, Ian. In fact, it'll be one of the fantasy storylines of the summer to see where Jackson gets slotted in most drafts. I'll be plenty happy if Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson keep getting all the attention, and Jackson slips to the middle or second half of the first round. Too many fantasy players rely on the previous year's stats, especially when they select in the first or second rounds. I'd be willing to bet Jackson is poised for a big fantasy comeback.
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