If you’re like me, you love the Buffalo Bills and you love to play fantasy football. There are always moments when you’re drafting your team where you want to make a homer pick, but your brain is telling you not to. But what if the homer pick is the best player available? Well, that’s what I’m here to help you with, who and when to take a Bills player. Watching the preseason, I had some main points that I wanted to see covered and what the fantasy impact will be.
Let’s start with the Offensive line. They are the most important fantasy player that doesn’t score points. They set up the play makers to do what they get paid to do. Everybody watches the flash plays and big-time players, when the big guys don’t get the love they deserve. Looking at how Coach McDermott and Coach Daboll are setting up the line, we can have a good feeling of what the offense can look like. In the first game, the team had 2nd round pick Cody Ford starting at right guard with Free Agent signee Ty Nsheke starting at right tackle. They only played 2 series together, but I believe this will have to be the way the line is set to have the most success. Even though Ford was beat early, Nsheke is savvy enough to slide over and help Ford if need be. The following two games, Ford was getting the start at right tackle with Nsheke nursing a knee injury. The following two games did not bode as well. Ford was getting beat early and he was getting walked back into the face of Josh Allen. These plays caused Josh to scramble or force a bad throw with a defender in his face. This will be to be addressed before Buffalo takes the field in New Jersey to open the season in order to make sure Josh is able to get the ball to his play makers.
Speaking of play makers, Buffalo signed and drafted a whole slew of impact players. Cole Beasley, John Brown, Dawson Knox, Devin Singletary, Duke Williams all are new weapons for Josh to use. The first two games showed a glimpse of what could be with the Josh to Cole connection. Those short to intermediate passing routes are what Cole excel on, and those are the throws that Josh needs to improve on. Cole is one of the best route runners in the NFL, and having him create space for Josh will be a huge improvement from a developmental standpoint. There have been some over throws and some poorly placed balls from Josh, but hopefully these wrinkles can be ironed out before the season. The Josh to Cole connection could be a sneaky good choice in PPR leagues.
Another area where Buffalo improved on was the depth of the running backs. LeSean McCoy returns for another season, and hopefully a much-improved season. We’ve seen his numbers decline the past couple seasons, and for some that’s a cause for concern. For me, that’s because the offensive line was borderline acceptable in NFL standards. The additions of Frank Gore and Devin Singletary will help keep Shady fresh, but they will eat into his fantasy numbers. Frank will take the short yardage and possible goal line carries. Devin will be used more out of the backfield as a pass catching back and used a lot in the screen game. He is a patient runner, and putting him into space will accentuate that trait. I expect Shady to get his touches and his yards, but his catch totals will decrease and possibly his touchdown totals as well. I would stay away from a Bills running back in fantasy, but perhaps later in the season, Singletary can emerge as RB1 and get the majority of touches.
A weak spot for Buffalo this year, as it has been for years past, is the tight end room. They did improve this season with the signing of Tyler Kroft and drafting Dawson Knox. Through the first two games they did not play. Kroft has been on the PUP for most of preseason, and he will most likely miss the first few games. Knox was nursing a hamstring injury, and I think the Bills were being more cautious than anything. With that said, there has to be guys out there to play, and 7th round draft pick Tommy Sweeney has been looking solid in the passing game. He caught 2 long passes from Josh Allen, and was the target of the first pass of the preseason. He may not get the same play during the regular season, but he is a name to look out for if the Kroft and Knox injuries linger further into the season. By week 8, if Sweeney is getting extended time, I wouldn’t mind making a waiver claim and see what he can do. Although, I would rather see everybody get healthy.
Finally, we get to the defense and the special teams. Last season, Buffalo was the 2nd overall ranked defense in the NFL, and number 1 against the pass. With 10 of 11 starters coming back, I expect nothing less but the same from this unit. Year 2 of Tremaine Edmunds, year 3 of Matt Milano and year 3 of Tre White will be what I’m looking forward to. Now, I don’t draft defenses to keep throughout the year. I like to stream the best match up from week to week. If you’re the type of fantasy player who likes to keep a defense all year, Buffalo wouldn’t be a bad take. With an easy(ish) schedule to start the season, I look to the chemistry of the defense to carry over and dominate early on. The one area they need to improve on is forcing turnovers. I’m hoping with improvements of the defensive line, it will let the DBs play close and cause more contested catches, and possible INTs. I don’t see the defense giving up as many points as they did last year. Most of that blame can be put on the offense vomiting on themselves in the first half of the schedule.
I’m optimistic about this team from the fan’s point of view, and who wouldn’t be? Improvement along each position group, continuity of the coaches and quarterback, and the defense brings back all their starters. As a fantasy player, I’m staying pretty far away from anybody in the Red, White and Blue. My only outliers to this will be Cole Beasley, Devin Singletary, and possibly Tommy Sweeney.