Take a good look at the two men in the picture, Bills fans, because it's the last you will see of them for awhile. In a brutal turn of events, CJ Spiller has been diagnosed with a broken collarbone and is likely done for the season. While Spiller may be a flashy name, he has not produced this season, with 234 rushing yards in 6 games, in addition to a touchdown reception and a kick return score. Spiller is good for the occasional big play, but has never delivered on the tantalizing potential he displayed in 2012, when he totaled over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 8 TDs on a mere 250 touches.
While Spiller's production will be easy to replace, what about Jackson, the heart and the soul of the Buffalo offense? The good news for the Bills is that Jackson's injury seems to be much less severe and he is aiming to return by Week 10. In the meantime, the Bills turn to Anthony "Boobie" Dixon and Bryce Brown in their stead.
Dixon has been in the league since 2010 and has never carried the ball more than 14 times in one game. With 13 second half carries against Minnesota, it's a safe bet to assume that "Boobie" will see a career high number of carries next week against the Jets, making him worthy of consideration for a waiver wire pickup. He's a tough runner who picks up what's blocked and bulls forward for additional yardage after contact.
Bryce Brown is the wild card in the current running back equation for the Bills and fantasy owners alike. Brown has demonstrated star potential in his first 2 years as LeSean McCoy's understudy, racking up 878 yards and 6 TDs in backup duty. Optimists can point to the fact that he gained 347 yards and 4 TDs on 43 carries in a 2 game stretch during the 2012 season. Pessimists will crow about the following 2 weeks, when he carried the ball 18 times for a whopping 40 yards.
With journeyman Kyle Orton entrenched at QB, the offense has opened up somewhat. Turns out that having a player that can reliably complete passes to wide receivers is a plus, for any offense. The coaching staff has still chosen to live on a steady diet of screens and run plays. Brown and Dixon will both be given sufficient opportunity to seize a key backfield role for the remainder of the season. Even if Jackson comes back good as new in Week 10, carries will need to be soaked up so that he can remain fresh for the stretch run.
Dixon was impressive when pressed in duty, grinding out 51 yards on 13 carries against a defensive front that was giving the Bills' offensive line fits. This bodes well for him continuing to gain the tough yards against the Jets and Chiefs. Dixon and Jackson's running styles are similar, while Brown is regarded as a playmaker of the CJ Spiller variety. With so many fantasy running back corps in shambles, both Dixon and Brown have the potential to step in and produce.
As for the Bills, they will only be able to rely Orton for so much. While he is the superior option when compared to EJ Manuel, he's also flawed. He lacks mobility, takes too many sacks and is careless with the football. Even with Spiller and Jackson sidelined, the Bills will continue to pound the rock.