Every year there are players in fantasy leagues that would only get called out during the draft in their hometown: such as Buffalo Bills fans drafting receiver Roscoe Parish or New England Patriots fans drafting receiver Julian Edelman. Fantasy football is about getting players you like, just as much as it is about winning a championship, so who better to draft then a couple guys you know you will watch every Sunday. With that being said, here is my early fantasy analysis of the 2012 Buffalo Bills:
Ryan Fitzpatrick – The “Amish Riffle” electrified the Bills’ offense in 2011. Fitzpatrick threw for just under 4,000 yards (3,832 yards) and added an impressive 24 touchdowns, as he was a critical cog in the Bills’ 5-2 starts. “Fitzy” unfortunately is the true definition of a gun-slinging quarterback, as he threw a NFL-leading 23 interceptions. Fitzpatrick will always test the defense downfield, which can be amazing, but can also be disastrous for any fantasy owner. He will always have games with 2-3 touchdowns, but he will mix them in with 2 or 3 interception games as well. Fitzpatrick is a better bench quarterback for now, or a mid-level starter in leagues that start two quarterbacks.
Vince Young – After coming into Western New York a couple weeks ago to workout with the Bills, the team was reportedly done with contract negotiations with Young. Then out of nowhere, the Bills offered him a one-year, $2 million dollar contract last week. He will likely win the backup role over current second-string quarterback, Tyler Thigpen, and thus see a heavy dose of playing time this preseason to get acclimated with the playbook. There will be a small number of Fitzpatrick “haters” who will draft Young based on his career 31-19 record, but they will quickly find out about the pitfalls of waiting on a backup quarterback to overcome the starter, that is unless your name is Tim Tebow.
Fred Jackson – Jackson was on top of the NFL in rushing yardage with over 900 yards, before a horribly timed broken leg in week 11 that cost him the remainder of his career season. Jackson averaged a stellar 5.5 yards per carry on the year though and was the main beneficiary of the Bills’ newly implemented down hill running game. Buffalo rewarded him for his hard work with a two-year extension this off-season and Jackson will be a great fantasy back to grab after the third round that will still receive 20-plus touches a game. Jackson has become the definition of a fantasy workhorse and head coach Chan Gailey will certainly pound the rock inside with “Fast Freddy”.
C. J. Spiller – Spiller truly showcased his versatility last season, by playing both running back and wide receiver, as the team’s injury concerns were at an all-time high. However after the aforementioned Jackson injury, Spiller was brought back into the backfield permanently. Spiller started six games in Jackson’s absence and the former Clemson Tiger averaged 73.3 rushing yards and 31.2 receiving yards per game during that time. On top of averaging 104 yards per game in his brief six-game starting stint, Spiller scored five touchdowns as well. Spiller can be an amazing fantasy flex player with only 10-15 touches per game and will be one of the premier sleepers heading into the 2012 season, as the Bills finally seem dedicated to getting the ball in his hands.
Steve Johnson – Johnson should be 100% healthy following his groin surgery earlier this month, which is an exceptionally good sign considering the amount of money Buffalo just paid the receiver. He is extremely physical for a wideout his size and has deceptive speed always seems to catch opposing cornerbacks sleeping over the top. He has become one of the premier fantasy receivers in the game, and even better, comes well after the top 10 wideouts are already off the board. Fantasy owners should expect another 1,000 yard-season and 7-10 touchdowns.
David Nelson – Nelson had a very surprising 2011 fantasy season. He caught 61 balls with 5 touchdowns and turned out to be a huge waiver wire find for Bills fans around the fantasy universe. Nelson will have a tougher time this year with all the competition at the position, so homers should avoid him if possible in 2012.
T. J. Graham – Graham was a third-round pick out of North Carolina State and is an absolute burner on the outside. He has the raw speed to be able to get behind any cornerback in the game, which can lead to a lot of long scores for fantasy owners. Graham will need to polish his route running to get consistent playing time, but his blazing speed will get him on the field, one way or another. He is a late round pick at best in deeper fantasy leagues, but could surprise with 5-7 long scores.
Scott Chandler – Chandler was the leading tight end through the first three weeks of the 2011 season with an outstanding 4 touchdowns. He lived in between the hashes early on and was Fitzpatrick’s safety blanket in the red-zone. However, as the year wore on he stopped getting separation from the defense and eventually was barely part of the team’s passing attack. The Bills brought Chandler back by re-signing him to a two-year deal this off-season, and the team would not have brought him back to not get involved offensively. He should benefit from the Jackson coming back healthy and taking more pressure of him in the middle of the field.
Check back closer to the start of the season for my full fantasy football report of the Buffalo Bills.