Another year and another injury for Steven Jackson. Steven Jackson left practice Tuesday after straining a hamstring. Word out of Atlanta is Jackson will miss the rest of camp.
I had high hopes coming for Jackson coming into this season. I had him initially ranked at 20 among running backs, but will drop him to the late 20’s in my ranks and possibly lower, if his potential for a week one return is looking less likely.
After a 2013 season that left fantasy owners clamoring for more production, Jackson’s potential bounce back for 2014 is not off to a good start. Jackson turned 31 during the off season. Running backs tend to decline once they turn 30, especially ones that have seen the workload, Jackson saw earlier in his career with the Rams.
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If Jackson misses time beyond the preseason, rookie Devonta Freeman would likely shoulder a majority of the load. While Freeman lacks the ideal height, he has fantastic vision and finds way to make plays even when poor blocking creates little or no room to run. Jacquizz Rodgers would also see a good amount of work likely as the third down back. Rodgers has proven to have value in spot duty for the Falcons. In a PPR league Rodgers would have even more value.
Whomever is getting the carries in Atlanta, will need the offensive line to be much better. The addition of rookie Jake Matthews should help sure up the right side of the line. A healthy Julio Jones and Roddy White should do a lot to take pressure off of the run game. The defense being unable to focus on the run entirely should allow for runners to find more openings and help to provide a offensive balance.
Fantasy owners should pay attention to work load splits for the Falcons pre season games. They will be telling as to how much trust Freeman has earned. Also pay attention to who garners the work with the first team offense and any shifts that occur as the pre season goes along.