For the first time since training camp began, Steven Jackson was not a name on the Atlanta Falcons injury report. The running back has not been seen since the first week of practice after he injured his hamstring. In need of a bounce-back season, Jackson's 2014 did not start like he wanted it to, allowing younger running backs to impress in his place. However, after being deemed healthy, Jackson is preparing to start against the New Orleans Saints.
According to ESPN, Jackson was not placed on the Week 1 injury report for Atlanta. Also absent from the list was Julio Jones and Roddy White who are returning from injury-riddled seasons last year. Unlike Jones and White, Jackson took zero snaps in the preseason for the Falcons, but that does not mean he will slow to return on Sunday. The Falcons have Jackson penciled in as the starter despite the success of Devonta Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers.
"I'm extremely excited for Week 1," Jackson said, via the team website. "It's been a training camp that I missed the majority of the time, but I've been working hard physically and mentally to prepare for this coming Sunday; I feel good about it. I think Marty and his training staff are the best in the NFL. They've shown, time after time, not only with myself, but with the other guys here, that when we return to the field, we're able to play with the type of capabilities that we had before the injury."
After missing a solid portion of last season with injuries, the Falcons have a plan B in place in case Jackson was to go down at some point in the season. Fantasy owners might be fooled into making Jackson an RB1 player, but proceed with caution. Last season, Jackson only racked up 115 points in standard fantasy formats. While he vows improvement, the Atlanta backfield is now crowded with talent and he could get lost in the shuffle is Rodgers and Freeman play well.
If healthy, Jackson is worthy of a pick. He might not rush for 1,000 yards, but he could easily put up 10 touchdowns as a goal line type of running back. Not to mention he will be used as a pass catcher and could see up to 30-40 receptions from Matt Ryan. At this point, most fantasy experts have Freeman as their sleeper pick, but Jackson will at least get the love at the start of the season.