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RB Steven Jackson - Atlanta Falcons

6-2, 233Born: 7-22-1983College: Oregon StateDrafted: Round 1, pick 24

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Photo: Daniel Shirey, US Presswire

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Week 5: at New York Giants

Mark and Joe say: Neutral matchup. The Falcons' offensive line was decimated on Sunday at Minnesota, to the point that TE Levine Toilolo was pressed into duty as a RT for much of the fourth quarter after the Falcons ran out of linemen. LG Justin Blalock exited Sunday's game with a back injury. RT Lamar Holmes exited due to a foot injury, which has turned out to be season-ending. C Joe Hawley was carted off the field with an apparent left knee injury of unspecified severity, but was on crutches after the game - he tore his ACL and is lost for the season. Blalock will have to fight through the back injury and he looks iffy for this week's game at midweek. 'We had a lot of injuries,' Falcons head coach Mike Smith said afterwards. 'It was the first time that I've been in a game where you had four offensive linemen that could go in and play. That's not an excuse. Guys are going to get injured. That happens in every football game. That happens throughout the NFL every week. You have to have the next man up mentality. You can not concern yourself with injures.' Pay attention to how many of the Falcons' offensive linemen are headed to/put on IR (two so far), and how many new faces they bring in this week - the O Line will be 'under construction' at the Giants this week, which is not optimum for any of the running backs. During the game against the Vikings, the Falcons employed a multifaceted attack, with Steven Jackson in the lead role (13/49/0 rushing with 2/13/0 receiving), followed by Antone Smith (4/62/1 rushing with zero targets), Devonta Freeman (2/8/0 rushing with 2/13/0 receiving), and Jacquizz Rodgers (1/2/0 rushing with 4/35/0 receiving.) As you can see, there are a lot of mouths to feed on this unit right now, keeping Jackson right around 14-15 touches per game (50/201/1 rushing or 12.5 rushes per game over the first four contests, with with six targets for 4/20/0 receiving, about one catch per contest). Smith is the home-run hitter with just 13 total touches, but the most TDs among the backs, with three total, on 10/119/2 rushing and 3/73/1 receiving - he is by far the most productive back in terms of how many fantasy points he's generating with a minimum of opportunities. Like we said at the top, this is a multifaceted attack. The Giants' D has allowed 31 points over the last two weeks (while the offense has scored 75), and limited Washington to 17/86/1 rushing last week, while holding an Arian-Foster-less Houston to 25/119/1 two games ago. To date, the Giants rank 10th in terms of average yards allowed per game (101.2), but they are tied for next-to-last in rushing TDs given up, with five allowed so far this year. This is a mediocre defensive front, on balance. The Falcons' stable is doing well in aggregate (Atlanta ranks 14th in the NFL averaging 121.8 rushing yards per game, with five rushing scores notched so far this year), but they have immediate and pressing issues with their offensive line coming into this game. On balance, this looks like a neutral matchup to us.

Recent Stats and Projections

WEEKOPPRSHYDTDTARGRECYDTDFumL
1 vs NO 12 52 0 3 1 0 0 0
2 at CIN 11 46 0 1 1 7 0 0
3 vs TB 14 54 1 0 0 0 0 0
4 at MIN 13 49 0 2 2 13 0 0
5 at NYG PROJ-Dodds 13 * * 1 * * *
5 at NYG PROJ-Tremblay 12 * * 1 * * *
5 at NYG PROJ-Bloom 13 * * 0 * * *

Recent Game Summaries

2014 Week 2 vs CIN (11 / 46 / 0 rush, 1 / 1 / 7 / 0 rec)

The veteran's carries is a disturbing indication of the downside of a RBBC. The Falcons' runner had 11 carries and three of them were runs to right end behind a pulling left guard for minimal gains because of poor blocking and good gap filling by the Cincinnati defense. The third carry of this type came to start the second half after seeing that the offensive line's success with Jackson came on interior runs where Jackson could get downhill and maximize his speed and power. On these plays, Jackson like the best running back on the team, but inexplicably Atlanta ran the ball downhill with a majority of Jacquizz Rodgers' five carries. Jackson is displaying the skill to earn fantasy starter production, but he is not getting enough carries to warrant a consistent start

2014 Week 3 vs TB (14 / 54 / 1 rush, 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)

The Falcons runner earned 14 carries in this game, which was closer to what some might expect for the big back if he hadn't injured his hamstring during the preseason. This workload was the highest total for Jackson in three games and it might point to the idea that Atlanta was easing Jackson into a larger role in September. Jackson ran hard, breaking tackles, and demonstrating burst when given downhill runs between the tackles. However, Atlanta's tackles are not the strength of their run blocking unit and the coaching staff has a habit of trying to get its bigger backs on the perimeter. There have been multiple games over the past three seasons where Atlanta has given the big backs as many perimeter runs as the small, quick runners and with poor outcomes. This was the case with Jackson this week. While Jackson did earn a nice gain around left end in the first quarter, he was laboring to reach that edge and there was a hitch in his gait that might indicate the hamstring is still bothering him. Jackson remained in the game until the early third quarter when the contest was well in hand, but he saw fewer carries in the second and third quarter after a heavier workload to being the game. Keep an eye on the hamstring. If the issue hasn't gotten worse, Jackson might see 14-18 touches on a more consistent basis if Atlanta was indeed easing the runner into a workload. At the same time, don't expect the old Ram earning his past bell-cow workload because Atlanta has maintained that the offense would have a committee of runners.

2014 Week 4 vs MIN (13 / 49 / 0 rush, 2 / 2 / 13 / 0 rec)

Atlanta was more consistent with giving Jackson carries between the tackles and pointing the big back downhill this afternoon. After trying to pull a guard to the left side for a minimal gain, Atlanta went to Jackson with a downhill play to start the second series and he gained nine yards. Jackson then pushed off guard for another five yards, but the play after he was held to no gain on a counter play. Atlanta used four different backs during the first two series of the game and continued to go to a committee. When Jackson was in the game, he did a fine job of running through wraps and bouncing off hits. He came a half a yard shy of the goal line in the first half, which set up a play action pass to the wide open fullback for the score. Jackson had two runs to the outside in the second half - one off tackle for a first down despite penetration wrapping the runner at the ankles in the backfield and then a fourth-quarter attempt he bounced outside without success. It appears Atlanta's optimal game script for Jackson is 10-14 touches with most of them between the tackles.

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Atlanta Falcons Team Links

Depth Chart      Season Stats      Targets      Red Zone      Game Logs

Staff Dynasty Rankings

RB Dynasty - 55, 44, 52, 54, 70

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Preseason Roundtable #2
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A Starting Point for 2014 Running Back Projections
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Gut Check No.317: Week 3 Is No Time to Panic
  Matt Waldman - September 23

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Schedule

5@ New York Giants
6vs Chicago Bears
7@ Baltimore Ravens
8vs Detroit Lions
9--- BYE WEEK ---
10@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
11@ Carolina Panthers
12vs Cleveland Browns
13vs Arizona Cardinals
14@ Green Bay Packers
15vs Pittsburgh Steelers
16@ New Orleans Saints
17vs Carolina Panthers