|By Shawn Childs, Monday, August 19, 2019|
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Game score led to the Bills playing from behind in most games in 2018 leading to fewer rushes than the team expected. Buffalo wants to play strong defense with a ball control offense. A full season of Josh Allen should result in more runs than passes. Last year they averaged 29.2 rushes per game, which led to 1,984 yards and 15 rushing TDs. The Bills completed a league-low 54.3 percent of their passes while gaining only 6.2 yards per pass attempt. Their QBs tossed 23 Ints with only 13 passing TDs.
Overall, Buffalo will again rank below the league average in offense in 2019. Allen flashed a couple of time pointing to upside down the road.
QB Josh Allen - Quality Backup
Update 12/06/19Allen has been at his best over his previous four games (28.10, 36.40, 21.85, and 25.85 Fantasy points), helping him to fifth ranking in QB scoring (23.13 FPPG). His floor remains high thanks to improved value in the run game (40/195/5) over his last five games. Allen hasn’t passed for over 270 yards in any contest in 2019 with a season-high four TDs in Week 11. The Ravens moved to fourth in QB defense (16.03 FPPG) after holding QBs to fewer than 18.0 Fantasy points in eight games. A tough matchup with only steady value.
RB Devin Singletary - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update 12/06/19Over his last five games, Singletary gained 484 combined yards with two TDs and 11 catches while averaging 17.8 touches per game with success in yards per rush (4.9)and yards per catch (9.4). His best value came in Week 9 (23.00 Fantasy points) and Week 13 (19.10 Fantasy points). Buffalo had him on the field for a season-high 78 percent of their plays in Week 13. The Ravens worked their way to fifth in RB defense (20.33 FPPG) after struggling in Week 3 (39.70 Fantasy points) and Week 4 (52.70 Fantasy points). Baltimore does allow 4.5 yards per rush with RBs scoring 11 TDs. Time of possession will be the key to the number of chances created the Bills’ run game. Not the best matchup, but a home game does help his chance of the Bills playing from the lead.
RB LeSean McCoy - Bust (overvalued)
After two excellent seasons for the Bills, McCoy struggled to get on track in 2018. He gained a career-low 3.2 yards per carry while averaging only 13.9 touches per game. LeSean has six seasons in his career with over 1,000 yards rushing and five years with 50+ catches. When at his best, McCoy would receive well over 300 touches per season. A rushing QB does steal some of the overall rushing chances and some TDs. Buffalo added a veteran early back (Frank Gore), a pass-catching back (T.J. Yeldon), and drafted a change of pace back (Devin Singletary). He'll start the year at age 31 with multiple players pulling at his touches and possible TDs. Even with a bounce-back season, I can't see much more than 225 touches with a chance at 1,000+ combined yards and just over a handful of TDs.
RB T.J. Yeldon - Low Potential
Over the last two seasons, Yeldon worked as the pass-catching back while also offering some change of pace value on early downs. He finished with a career-high in catches (55) and receiving yards (487). T.J. gained 8.9 yards per catch, which was the second straight season of improvement. His skill set does overlap with LeSean McCoy on passing downs while not having a clear role on early downs. Yeldon has talent if given enough chances. Easy handcuff McCoy with a reasonable chance at 100+ touches as the second fiddle at RB.
RB Frank Gore - Fantasy Handcuff
Update 09/29/19With Devin Singletary trending toward another missed game, Gore will receive another starting opportunity for the Bills. Over the previous two games, he has 172 combined yards with two TDs and four catches while averaging 19 touches per game. RBs only have 218 combined yards with no TDs and 16 catches vs. the Patriots in three games. A veteran back with enough touches to be a factor as this salary level even with a below-par matchup.
WR Ray-Ray McCloud - Not Draft WorthyThe Clemson Tigers gave McCloud plenty of chances his last two seasons (49/472/1 and 40/503/1). He gained only 9.7 yards per catch in his career, which had more of a running back feel. Scouts question his ability to separate and make plays beyond the first five yards past the line of scrimmage. In his rookie season, he caught only five passes for 36 yards on six targets.
WR John Brown - Sleeper (undervalued)
Update 12/06/19The Bills played from the lead over their past two games, which led to Brown seeing only eight combined targets with minimal stats (2/39/1, and 3/26). All three of his best games came vs. the Jets and the Dolphins (7/123/1, 5/83/1, and 9/137/2). He gained over 70 yards in six of his first ten games. The Ravens are 17th in WR defense (34.95 – 165/2082/7 on 274 targets) while showing growth vs. WRs over the previous four games (11/107, 14/132, 16/172, and 9/124/1). Brown should face CB Marcus Peters on most plays. Peters will give up some long TDs when he gambles. Brown has the speed and quickness to surprise in a matchup that looks unfavorable.
WR Zay Jones - Gamble (high risk)
After a rocky offseason, Jones made strides in his second year in the league. He finished with 56 catches for 652 yards and seven TDs on 102 targets. His catch rate (54.9) was much better than his rookie season (36.5). His best success came in in four of his last seven games (8/93/1, 4/67/2, 5/67/1, and 6/93/2). Over four seasons at East Carolina, Jones caught 399 passes for 4279 yards and 23 TDs highlighted by his senior year (158/1746/8). He did most of his damage close to the line of scrimmage, which led to short yards per catch (10.7). His hands grade well, but tighter coverage in the NFL will challenge his ability to catch the ball. His game may work better early in his career vs. zone coverage. Zay needs to prove he can beat press coverage while improving his route running. I don't see a considerable edge as an open field runner while lacking explosiveness in the deep passing game. His best asset early in his career with be his quickness and short area speed. I like his direction, and I expect him to improve on his 35th ranking in Fantasy points in PPR leagues. Next step: 75+ catches for 900+ yards and a chance at double-digit TDs if his chemistry with Josh Allen continues to grow.
WR Cole Beasley - Bye Week Fill-in
Update 12/06/19Over the previous two games, Beasley played the best ball of his career. He picked up 12 catches for 186 yards and two TDs on 16 targets highlighted by his game (6/110/1) in Week 13 vs. his former team. Beasley has five TDs over his last seven games, which led to 28 catches for 368 yards and five TDs on 41 targets. His season started with four catches or fewer in seven of ten contests while gaining under 40 yards in seven games. The Ravens will look to over him with CB Marlon Humphrey. At best, 12 Fantasy points in PPR leagues with a slim chance at a TD.
WR Robert Foster - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
After signing as an undrafted free agent in 2018, Foster quickly moved up the WR ranks in Buffalo. Over a four-game stretch mid-season, he caught 17 of 23 targets for 438 yards and two TDs highlighted by three games with over 100 yards receiving (3/105, 7/104, and 4/108/1). He gained over 20 yards per catch for the year. Robert offers more size (6'2' and 196 lbs.) than John Brown, and his success with Josh Allen at QB should lead to an early look as a possible starter. Possible sleeper who will be overlooked on draft day.
TE Tyler Kroft - Deep-league Only
Update: Tyler Kroft suffered a broken foot and will likely miss the first month or two of the NFL season.
In 2017, Kroft played well as fill-in for Tyler Eifert when he caught 42 of 62 targets for 404 yards and seven TDs. Even with struggles at TE last year in Cinci, Tyler failed to make an impact (4/36) while seeing his season end after playing in only five games with a foot injury. The Bills paid him over $18 million for three seasons showing his potential upside. Last year Buffalo's TEs only caught 59 catches for 528 yards and one TD on 87 targets. Potential TE2 with bye week and injury cover value.
TE Dawson Knox - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update 09/29/19Over the first two games, Knox had two catches for 19 yards on six targets. He beat the Bengals for three catches for 67 yards and a TD on four targets in Week 3. Knox receives about 55 percent of the TE snaps for Buffalo in 2019. New England held TEs to six catches for 86 yards on nine targets while yet to face an offense with a top TE option. Closer to a zero than a playable game.
PK Steven Hauschka - Bye Week Fill-in
From 2012 to 2017, Hauschka made 89.5 percent of his field goals with exceptional value from long range (20-for-27). Last year he posted his lowest success rate (78.6) for a full season while seeing a drop back in his field goal chances (28). Over the last two seasons, the Bills scored only 60 TDs. On the positive side, Stephen did make four of his seven field goals from 50 yards or more. Bottom tier kicker who should rebound in his success rate. A possible starter in a favorable home matchup if the Bills' offense shows growth.
Buffalo - Solid/Safe Pick
The Bills ranked 16th in the NFC defending the run in 2018 with teams scoring 17 rushing TDs. Ball carriers gained 4.2 yards per rush with 12 runs over 20 yards. Buffalo had the best defense in the league vs. the pass (179.2 yards per game). They allowed 6.3 yards per pass attempt with 22 passing TDs and 16 Ints while picking up 36 sacks.
CB Tre'Davious White held WRs to short yards per catch on most plays while minimizing the damage in TDs allow. His next step is improving his tackling in the open field. After showing growth defending WRs in 2017 with the Bills, CB E.J. Gaines struggled last year for the Browns due to injuries. He missed 12 games with knee and concussion issues. Gaines will work his way into a third CB role in 2019. CB Kevin Johnson will try to reinvent his career after battling injuries over the last three years. He comes with a first-round pedigree.
Micah Hyde continues to be one of the top safeties in the NFL, but he did allow too many TDs in 2018. His best value comes in pass coverage. S Jordan Poyer made plenty of tackles (73) last year with success defending the pass (four Ints and six defended passes), but he misses too many tackles.
LB Tremaine Edmunds failed to live up to his first round billing despite 80 tackles, 40 assists, and 12 defended passes. Edmund will give up a high catch rate and miss some tackles, but he should improve with more experience in the NFL. LB Matt Milano grades as a league average player with neutral value in coverage and weakness in tackling. Buffalo resigned LB Lorenzo Alexander after playing well in all areas in 2018. He'll start the year at age 36, which points to decline in his game.
DE Jerry Hughes remains a top player rushing the QB with league average value defending the run. Last year he saw his tackle total (37) fade with seven sacks. Buffalo would love for DE Shaq Lawson to make a step forward. As a rotational player last year, he played well vs. the run with four sacks and five defended passes. Lawson is a former first-round draft pick (2016). DT Harrison Phillips is a sure tackler with no real upside attacking the QB. DT Ed Oliver will look to create havoc rushing the QB from the interior line after getting drafted in the first round this season. His high motor should work well, but his aggressiveness and lack of size may be used against him on run plays.
Buffalo doesn't have a great pass rush, which may lead to regression in pass coverage if they don't get to the QB. They do face many weak offenses in the passing game helping their ability to create turnovers. The growth of Tremaine Edmunds and the addition of Harrison Phillips should lead to lower points allowed. Viable top 12 Fantasy defense with matchup value.
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