How much bigger should C.J. Spiller's workload be?

Jason Miller

It's no secret that C.J. Spiller needs a bigger role with the Buffalo Bills. The real question is, how much more work should he be given?

If there's one thing that most every Buffalo Bills fan can agree on - yes, such topics exist - it's that running back C.J. Spiller needs a bigger workload from Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett than he received from the previous coaching staff.

Fred Jackson is still with the team and will have a role to play in shaping Spiller's touches, but Marrone has already said that he'll ride with the hot back in 2013 - and if last season was any indication, Spiller will be hot far more often than Jackson will be.

"My philosophy's always been if someone starts off and they're running well, keep feeding them the ball," Marrone said in May.

Assuming that Spiller will indeed receive more touches next season, the next question becomes: how dramatically will his work load increase? Recent data on speed-back types that receive No. 1-back workloads suggests that Spiller might only add about five touches per game to his 15.6 touch-per-game average from a year ago, though the potential clearly exists for more.

Chris Johnson set the bar for this type of back in 2009, when he logged an astonishing 408 touches (25.5 per game) in his 2,000-yard rushing season that earned him the nickname CJ2K. (As a point of comparison: Adrian Peterson set a career high with 388 touches - 24.3 per game - last year.) As his production has slipped in the subsequent three seasons, however, so too has Johnson's workload: he averaged 22.5 touches in 2010, then 19.9 in 2011, and finally 19.5 a year ago.

Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy are two more explosive bell-cow backs that Spiller could measure up to in 2013. Charles set a career high a year ago averaging 20 touches per game, while McCoy's biggest workload came in 2011, when he averaged 21.4 touches per game.

There will undoubtedly be games that Spiller racks up large quantities of carries thanks to Marrone's philosophy of rolling with the hot back, but it may also be important for the team to manage Spiller's workload a bit to keep him healthy (he's had minor injuries in two of his first three years). Our question for you this morning, Bills fans, is this: is that 20-21 touches per game threshold for the other elite speed backs a good target for Spiller, or are you more interested in seeing a massive workload like what Johnson received in 2009?

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