Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 29-32

February, 14, 2012
2/14/12
11:00
AM ET
The AFC East blog continues its ranking of the top 40 players in the division.

Here are Nos. 29-32:

Spiller
No. 32: C.J. Spiller, RB

Team: Buffalo Bills

Stats: 561 yards, four touchdowns

Analysis: Fans were tired of waiting on C.J. Spiller. Everyone knew he had talent, but Spiller had yet to show it on the field. But opportunity knocked for the former first-round pick late in the season. Buffalo starting tailback Fred Jackson broke his leg and Spiller played well as the starter. Spiller's ceiling is high and he proved he can be a starting running back. It will be intriguing to see how Buffalo uses the Jackson-Spiller combo next season. It could be one of the best tailback tandems in the league.

Spikes
No. 31: Brandon Spikes, LB

Team: New England Patriots

Stats: 47 tackles

Analysis: Spikes is the Energizer Bunny in New England. He brings a much-needed intensity and big-play ability to the Patriots' 31st-ranked defense. New England needs more players like Spikes to build around. He is perhaps New England's hardest hitter. Spikes would've had a better year in 2011 if injuries didn't force him to miss eight games. But you can see a noticeable difference when Spikes is in and out of the game for the Patriots. Spikes, Jerod Mayo and Rob Nickovich could grow together and be a solid linebacker trio for the Patriots.

Keller
No. 30: Dustin Keller, TE

Team: New York Jets

Stats: 65 receptions, 815 yards, five touchdowns

Analysis: When switching from the AFC North to cover the AFC East this past season, Keller was one of the players I was most looking forward to watching on an everyday basis. I've seen a few of Keller's games in person over the years and was impressed. But Keller didn't have the dynamic impact year I expected in 2012. It definitely all wasn't on Keller. New York's entire offense was not on the same page most of last year and had chemistry issues. Keller has the natural ability to be higher on this list, but I want to see more from him next season.

Fitzpatrick
No. 29: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB

Team: Bills

Stats: 3,832 yards, 24 touchdowns, 23 interceptions

Analysis: By all measures, Fitzpatrick had a career year. But his poor play down the stretch left a bad impression on his 2011 season. Fitzpatrick started out fast, but Buffalo’s franchise quarterback was mostly awful during the second half of the season. Fitzpatrick is very streaky and needs to work on his consistency. The Bills signed Fitzpatrick to a $59 million contract extension, making him the face of the franchise. Fitzpatrick has to live up to that billing next year and prove he can take Buffalo to the next level, which is leading the Bills to the playoffs.

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