With the dead period of the NFL season upon us, outside of contract extensions, arrests and freak injuries, news is pretty hard to come by. Unless of course, you are like me and play fantasy football. There are always different stats to pour over, minicamp quotes to sift through and decipher, and rankings to digest. It can almost be overwhelming and seem like another full time job. And while I can’t necessarily help you breakdown every player on every team in the league, I can assist you with our beloved BuffaloBills. So the question I’m going to look at and attempt to answer is this: Which Bills player will have the biggest fantasy impact in 2016? Having lived through the years when the best fantasy option on the team was either Lee Evans or Robert “Fudge” Royal, we really have come a long way in terms of offensive talent. I’m going to look at three obvious difference makers and one potential sleeper see who might be able to help you win your league.
What can I say about Sammy that hasn’t already been said? He’s a freak of a talent who over the last nine games of 2015 might have been the best receiver in football. Just in case you forgot how dominant that stretch actually was, let’s look at the numbers. In that stretch, Sammy totaled 49 catches for 900 yards and 7 touchdowns. Stretch that out over a full 16 game season and this is what it looks like; 87 receptions, 1600 yards, 12 touchdowns. Wow, right?
Those kinds of numbers would easily make him a top 5 fantasy receiver. What makes him dangerous from a fantasy prospective is that he doesn’t need a high volume of receptions to be affective. And with this being a run first offense as long as Greg Roman is calling the plays, that’s a good thing. His only downside might be that he seems to be prone to nagging injuries, so you might only get 13-15 fully healthy games. You might have to decide if that’s worth the gamble depending on how you structure your team, but the upside might be too tempting to pass up.
Verdict: The foot injury is worrisome, but barring any setbacks in camp, I would feel comfortable taking him anywhere in the 2nd round as a Wide Receiver 1. If you can somehow get him in the 3rd , that’s just tremendous value. He’s a terrific dynasty asset as well, as he just turned 23 in June and hasn’t even entered his prime.
While last year probably didn’t live up to the expectations Bills fans and coaches envisioned for LeSean, when he was on the field he was still productive. In the league’s number one rushing offense, staying on the field is what fantasy owners need him to do. The holes and subsequently the yards will be there and the touchdowns will surely rise as well. The crowded backfield of Williams, Williams and Gillislee can be seen as a negative as it will eat into some carries, but like most things, I see it as a positive. You don’t want your 28 year old (when the season begins) RB to be carrying the ball 300+ times if you don’t have to. Leave the majority of the grinding to Karlos and Jonathan Williams. McCoy also moves up a notch in PPR leagues as he remains one of the better pass catching RB’s in the league.
Verdict: Shady’s days as a surefire top 5 fantasy selection seem to be over, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an asset to your team. As with any player, they can have value depending on where you draft them or how much you have to spend to get them. In LeSean’s case, his value probably begins at the middle of the 3rd round as your second running back with the upside of returning to RB 1 status if he can play a full season.
Most people that ended up with Tyrod on their teams last year more than likely picked him up off of waivers early in the season. If you were one of those lucky few, congratulations! But you probably won’t be that fortunate this year. Tyrod proved last year that he is a viable real life NFL quarterback as well as a legit fantasy option, especially if you don’t grab one of Rodgers or Cam Newton. He combined his ability to minimize turnovers, elude defenses with his legs (always an added fantasy bonus) with incredible deep ball accuracy to produce a very efficient season.
Ideally, you’d be more comfortable if the Bills would have brought in one more veteran receiver (namely, Anquan Boldin) to solidify the depth there in case anything happens to Sammy. Otherwise, everyone of note comes back with a full year in what is a complex system, under their belts. If minicamp reports are to be believed and Taylor indeed looked sharper, quicker and used the middle of the field consistently, then a top seven finish for him isn’t out of the question. As with the first two guys on the list, the main concern is staying healthy. While he started 14 games, nagging injuries caused a sharp decline in his performance during the middle of the season.
Verdict: With quarterback being so deep this year, there’s no need to reach for someone when you can get equal production later on. With that said, 3,600 yards and 30 touchdowns is very attainable especially if Tyrod and Sammy can quickly regain the chemistry from last year. In my opinion anywhere from round 12-13 is the sweet spot for Tyrod.
Sleeper- Charles Clay
My feelings about Clay and how he might be flying under the radar are well documented , but let’s not forget that this could also help you reap the rewards in fantasy. Outside of Vernon Davis’s 13 TD outburst in 2013, Greg Roman’s offense doesn’t always appear to exclusively feature one tight end. And while everyone knows his love for multiple tight end sets, Clay is light years better than any other tight end on the roster and could even be considered the second option in the entire passing game. It’s entirely possible that the Bills didn’t feel the need to add an early pick or veteran at receiver because they’re confident Clay can take on an even bigger role than last year.
Verdict: Outside of Gronk, Jordan Reed, and maybe Greg Olsen, there really isn’t anyone I feel stands out at the tight end position. A year of 65 receptions, 800 yards and 6-8 touchdowns is probably the ceiling of what you can expect out of anybody not named in the previous sentence. Those kind of numbers are very attainable for Clay, especially if Sammy misses any time. Therefore, roll the dice on him as a late round pick and use the earlier rounds to take fliers at other positions.