Player Points - CJ Spiller
By Chase Stuart
June 2nd, 2010

Those less than enamored with Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards have dubbed him "Captain Checkdown," a nickname reflecting his penchant for eschewing the risky pass in favor of a short throw to the running back. The numbers bear out his reputation -- Buffalo running backs caught 31% of all Bills receptions last season, second in the league behind the Baltimore Ravens (led by Ray Rice's 78 catches). What does that mean for Spiller, considered by many to be an excellent receiving running back and perhaps the most explosive player in the draft? While Buffalo may not have initially appeared to be a great landing spot for the Clemson great, teaming up with Edwards could lead to huge receiving numbers as a rookie. If Edwards was checking down to Fred Jackson instead of throwing to Lee Evans and Terrell Owens, you can be sure he'll check down to Spiller instead of throwing downfield to Evans and Steve Johnson.

Unless you think Buffalo's passing offense is going to be even worse than last year, it's hard not to like Spiller's chances. Owens, Jackson and Lynch combined for 129 receptions in 2009, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Spiller get half of that total all by himself. Sixty catches may seem high for a rookie, but it's happened ten times in the past 25 seasons:

Player
Year
Team
Rush
Yds
TDs
Rec
Yds
TDs
Reggie Bush
2006
NOR
155
565
6
88
742
2
Herschel Walker
1986
DAL
151
737
12
76
837
2
Terry Kirby
1993
MIA
119
390
3
75
874
3
Mike Alstott
1996
TAM
96
377
3
65
557
3
Matt Forte
2008
CHI
316
1238
8
63
477
4
Edgerrin James
1999
IND
369
1553
13
62
586
4
LaDainian Tomlinson
2001
SDG
339
1236
10
59
367
0
Eric Metcalf
1989
CLE
187
633
6
54
397
4
Marshall Faulk
1994
IND
314
1282
11
52
522
1
Steve Slaton
2008
HOU
268
1282
9
50
377
1

There are some parallels between the 2010 Bills and the 2008 Bears. For Chicago, Kyle Orton was a checkdown-heavy quarterback who lacked a strong arm, while the Bears were very thin and inexperienced at wide receiver with Devin Hester and Rashied Davis. The 2001 Chargers might be an even stronger comparison. Doug Flutie was 39-years-old and the starting quarterback; he never had a strong arm, and he was just about washed up by the '01 season. Curtis Conway was a reliable #1 wide receiver, but Jeff Graham, the other starter, was in his last year in the league. As a result, Flutie looked early and often to the rookie Tomlinson. The 1996 Bucs had nothing on offense, ranking last in the league in points scored. Trent Dilfer had a miserable season at the age of 24, while the starting receivers were Courtney Hawkins and Robb Thomas. As a result, Mike Alstott was able to catch over four passes per game in that terrible Bucs offense.

The Bills don't have a good offensive line, or a good receiving tight end, or another good receiver besides Lee Evans. Someone has to catch the ball in Buffalo, and I think Spiller has a great chance to be a PPR star in 2010. He might not score many touchdowns, and he may not even gain that many yards from scrimmage. But if you're getting one point for every reception, Spiller is someone I'd target in your draft. I think there's a good chance that this time next year, Spiller's name will be on the above table.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to stuart@footballguys.com.