Back in 1999 things were a lot different than they are today. Bill Clinton was in office, the original American Pie was in theaters, and Eminem and Brittney Spears were hot new artists. Also, it was the last time the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs. It has been a cold, 15 years-long playoff-less winter in Buffalo. The city’s die-hard fans have been praying and desperately hoping that “this would be the year” for over a decade now, and new team owner Terry Pegula has finally given the city more hope than they have ever had after a summer of building a playoff caliber team.
This 2015 Bills team will not be the laughing stock of the AFC East as they have been for years. Their fearsome defense has 9 starters returning this year from the squad that was one of the league’s best defenses last season, even with Kiko Alonso not playing all year.
The Bills performing so well last year without Alonso was probably one of the reasons they were so willing to trade him away. It also helped that, in exchange for the injured former Oregon linebacker, they got LeSean McCoy; one of the most exciting players in the NFL. The Bills’ offense has been lacking excitement for years. Now this year, with LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay and Percy Harvin added to the roster, and Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods returning after showing promise last year, the Bills’ front office hopes they have put together an offense that will score points. There is just one hole in their plan: they don’t have a true leader or front runner for the most important position on the field – the quarterback.
Last season while watching the Bills play, I thought to myself, “This might be the most talented team in the NFL other than at Head Coach and Quarterback.” Then they went out and got Rex Ryan for their coach, a terrific guy for the task of ending the playoff drought. However, they didn’t do enough to try to get a quarterback who can take them deep into the playoffs. They have 3rd year QB EJ Manuel waiting to come back in as the starter after losing his job to the now retired Kyle Orton last season. They made some moves and brought in Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor to compete with Manuel. Matt Cassel is essentially another version of Kyle Orton in my book. He is a safe choice, he shouldn’t really ever lose or win you any games but will be consistently below average.
Tyrod Taylor is the interesting piece of this controversy. He has sat behind Joe Flacco in Baltimore as a mostly unknown talent. He is said to have a strong arm and is considered one of the fastest quarterbacks in the league. The Bills have also brought over the former Offensive Coordinator of the 49ers, Greg Roman. Roman was able to score a lot of points with Colin Kaepernick at Quarterback, and Kaepernick is also a fast, strong armed quarterback. Because of the similarities between these two, and the success that the 49ers had with Roman, Taylor should be the Bills’ starter for Week 1.
Luckily, the Bills are in a position where, if they can just score 13-17 points in a game, then their defense should be able to get them the win. I think that no matter who their quarterback is, they will be successful. Being from Buffalo, I know first-hand how much the city as a whole loves this team, and this year I think they will get their wish and break the playoff drought. I predict the Bills will go 10-6 or 11-5 and make the playoffs.
From a fantasy football perspective, Percy Harvin is one of the biggest potential busts I’ve seen in a while. Because of his shaky past with injuries and the Bills’ quarterback troubles, as well as being in a stacked group of receivers, I don’t see him as a guy you will want on your fantasy roster this season. However, I am sure that someone in your league will trick themselves into believing in his play-making abilities and snatch him up in the 5th or 6th round. Do not be that guy. This goes for Sammy Watkins as well. While I believe they are both great and talented receivers, I don’t expect them to be guys who produce for your fantasy team. Don’t take either of them before the 9th round as they will put up numbers of a third wide-out.
LeSean McCoy is a different story. He is the centerpiece of a Rex Ryan run first offense and I expect him to be a dual threat, explosive running back and I have him worthy of the number 5 pick. The Bills have not had many players of much fantasy relevance, but McCoy will produce huge numbers as the focal point of this offense.
If you’re looking for a sleeper Tight End, then Charles Clay is your man. He will be a nice red zone target for whoever ends up as the Bills quarterback. If the Bills have a quarterback carousel going throughout the year, then you could still expect Clay to produce because it’s not as complex for a new QB to find his Tight End open over the middle as it is for him to hit all those tough timing routes with receivers. Clay is a good guy to look at as a Low End Starting TE in any league.
Their defense is one of the best in NFL, whether you’re talking about it from a Fantasy perspective or not. They have a high likelihood of leading the NFL in sacks. With the front 4 providing extreme pressure, I expect them to generate a lot of turnovers as well. They should end up a Top 3 defense no matter what your leagues scoring is and should be drafted accordingly.