Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Saturday, June 9, 2018


Bills 2015-2017 Offensive Profile

2015-2017 Pass Attempts Rank: 31st, 32nd, 31st
2015-2017 Rush Attempts Rank: 2nd, 2nd, 4th
2015-2017 Play Volume Rank: 20th, 18th, 15th
2015-2017 Yards Per Play Rank: 8th, 15th, 29th
Unaccounted for Air Yards from 2017 (Rank): 1,276 (14th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2017 (Rank): 149 (13th)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: A.J. McCarron
RB: LeSean McCoy
WR: Kelvin Benjamin
WR: Zay Jones
WR: Jeremy Kerley
TE: Charles Clay
LT: Dion Dawkins
LG: Ryan Groy
C: Russell Bodine
RG: Vlad Ducasse
RT: Jordan Mills

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Passing Game Outlook

A.J. McCarron made four 2015 starts in place of injured Andy Dalton, completing 77-of-124 passes (62%) for 764 yards (6.2 YPA) and a 5:1 TD-to-INT ratio with a full-deck supporting cast that included a healthy Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, and Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. In Buffalo, McCarron will be surrounded in corresponding roles by Charles Clay, Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones and Jeremy Kerley, and Dion Dawkins and Vlad Ducasse. McCarron has never added value with his legs, running a 4.94 forty and graduating from Alabama with negative rushing yards. NFL evaluators have twice told us they don’t view McCarron as a capable starter, letting him slip to the fifth round after he put 40 starts on college tape, then valuing McCarron in the Matt Schaub range ($4 million annually) in free agency. McCarron was reportedly outplayed by 2017 fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman at OTAs and minicamp. As Buffalo arguably has the NFL’s toughest Weeks 1-8 schedule and seems unlikely to stay competitive, the odds favor No. 7 overall pick Josh Allen making starts by midseason.

The Bills traded up for Josh Allen at No. 7 despite a preponderance of evidence suggesting he is a low-probability prospect, most notably inaccuracy quantifiable by Allen’s low completion rates at every level of football and lack of college dominance, where Allen failed to beat out Packers rookie camp arm Nick Stevens (Colorado State) and projected 2019 7th-round/UDFA Brett Rypien (Boise State) for all-Mountain West honors. Allen’s howitzer arm and 86th-percentile athleticism give him upside in the same way Jake Locker, Kyle Boller, JaMarcus Russell, DeShone Kizer, and Paxton Lynch's did. When Allen does play – and he is likely to see the field this year – he’ll have to overcome the NFL’s least-talented supporting cast. Nevertheless, the fact that Allen is likely to make ten-plus starts as a rookie puts him on two-quarterback-league radars.

Kelvin Benjamin was acquired by Buffalo for a 2018 third-round pick last Halloween. He predictably made minimal impact as a Bill, scoring one touchdown and clearing 45 yards once in seven games. Benjamin battled a series of knee injuries in Carolina and continued to in Buffalo, tearing his meniscus a month after the trade and requiring offseason surgery. Benjamin doesn’t get open, can’t create after the catch, has always been inefficient with his targets, and has bad knees. Not only has Josh Hermsmeyer’s Game Speed data shown Benjamin runs at a league-basement pace for his position, Next Gen Stats revealed Benjamin’s speed was below average for tight ends last year. Next Gen also ranked Benjamin dead last and second to last in yards of separation at target in each of the last two years. In what projects as a poor Bills passing game, Benjamin’s lone fantasy appeal is projected target volume.

 

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2017 No. 37 overall pick Zay Jones wasn’t ready to play as a rookie but was forced to by necessity, never getting on the same page with Tyrod Taylor and logging an abysmal 36.5% catch rate at a pathetic 4.27 yards per target. Bills quarterbacks went a combined 2-of-17 for 55 yards with an interception and two drops when targeting Jones 20-plus yards downfield. Jones had shoulder surgery after the season, then was arrested for felony vandalism, although charges were dropped. He underwent knee surgery in May and won’t practice before training camp. Jones theoretically has a defined role in Buffalo’s offense, but it’s not attractive in fantasy. Jones is just a stash-and-hope Dynasty prospect entering his second season.

Charles Clay enters his fourth season in Buffalo having never reached 560 yards or topped four TDs as a Bill. He’s battled knee injuries on and off since being acquired from Miami, although Clay has played 13 or more games in 7-of-7 NFL seasons. Clay’s calling cards are job security, high place in Buffalo’s target pecking order, and cheap cost. He’s just a re-draft streamer and volume-driven TE2 in best-ball leagues.

Running Game Outlook

LeSean McCoy will appear on many 2018 do-not-draft lists, understandably since Buffalo lost dual-threat run-game asset Tyrod Taylor and three quality offensive linemen in LT Cordy Glenn (Bengals), LG Richie Incognito (temporary retirement), and C Eric Wood (retirement). McCarron is the antithesis of Taylor with zero run threat. Josh Allen is a great athlete who can make highlight-reel throws on the run, but he wasn’t a dynamic scrambler at Wyoming. McCoy turns 30 soon and last year averaged a career-worst 3.94 yards per carry. McCoy’s 43% rushing Success Rate ranked 32nd among 47 qualified running backs at Football Outsiders. A misfit on a rebuilding team, McCoy seems set up for failure. McCoy’s sheer volume projection still makes him second-round worthy in fantasy drafts. New OC Brian Daboll has coordinated four NFL offenses, and three finished top six in rushing attempts. Last year’s Bills finished top four.

McCoy has missed just five games in the past half-decade, but his age and Buffalo’s run-first mentality make their backup backs worth monitoring. Unfortunately, McCoy’s backups are uninspiring to be kind in inefficient 30-year-old washed-up grinder Chris Ivory and journeyman space back Travaris Cadet.

2018 Vegas Win Total

The Bills’ Win Total opened at 6.5 with -130 odds on the over. Perhaps aimed at capturing public bettors who recall the Bills “making the playoffs,” it was a surprisingly high total for a team that finished 2017 with a -57 point differential and went a regression-bound 6-2 in one-score games. Last year's 9-7 Bills claimed victory in a league-high 2.97 more games than their on-field win expectation, further increasing the odds their 2018 W-L record regresses to the mean. Buffalo “made the playoffs” due to the weakness of the AFC and a few lucky ball bounces. A game-winning 49-yard touchdown by Bengals WR Tyler Boyd bounced the Ravens from the postseason in Week 17, while the Chargers were a far superior team. The Bills have the least talent in the AFC East, and their non-division slate consists of the rising AFC South, tough NFC North, Chargers (home), and Ravens (away). Buffalo half-stepped its 2017 tank and accidentally ran into an ultimately-detrimental Wild Card berth. I’m taking under 6.5 wins, and wagering the Bills don’t make that mistake again.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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