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Ranking Buffalo Bills' Best Fantasy Football Options in 2014

Brandon CroceAnalyst IJuly 31, 2014

Ranking Buffalo Bills' Best Fantasy Football Options in 2014

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    Last year the Buffalo Bills offense was not considered much of a factor in fantasy football outside of running back C.J. Spiller. This year is much different, as the team has added a number of playmakers around second-year quarterback EJ Manuel who could be factors this season.

    In the following slides, I have ranked the players on the Bills offense using the Average Draft Position (ADP) on ESPN.com and whether I believe they will perform better or worse based on their ADP.

7. Scott Chandler

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    ESPN.com ADP: 170.0

    Scott Chandler had a career year last season, leading the team in receptions (53) and receiving yards (655). This is something that is sure not to repeat in 2014, especially with new options at the wide receiver position.

    Similarly to Mike Williams, Chandler could find some value if he becomes a red-zone target for Manuel. Before last season, when he only caught two touchdowns, he caught six touchdowns in 2011 and 2012. 

    Prediction: Bye week fill-in

6. Mike Williams

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    ESPN.com ADP: 170.0

    After going through the conditioning test before training camp, Mike Williams says he is fully healthy from a hamstring injury he suffered last season. This is certainly good news for the Bills offense, as it needs a wide receiver like Williams, particularly in the red zone.

    In terms of fantasy value though, Williams is the third option on the Bills offense, which is expected to rely heavily on the run. 

    Prediction: Bye week fill-in

5. Fred Jackson

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    ESPN.com ADP: 103.9

    Fred Jackson is coming off one of his best fantasy seasons of his career, but his age (33 years old) and the crowded Bills backfield will damper expectations. Spiller is still the main guy, and with the additions of Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon, the Bills could limit Jackson's touches in hopes of keeping him healthy over a full NFL season.

    As much as the Bills are expected to run the ball in 2014, Jackson does have value in fantasy football, and that value will increase greatly if one of the other running backs on the team suffers an injury. It would not be a bad strategy for anyone who drafts Spiller to also select Jackson as a handcuff, especially if a first-round pick is used for Spiller.

    Prediction: Borderline RB2/flex play

4. Sammy Watkins

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    ESPN.com ADP: 72.9

    The rookie wide receiver out of Clemson was arguably the best wide receiver in this year's draft and enters the league with high expectations. He is an intriguing prospect, but fantasy expectations should be tempered for the rookie.

    ESPN's Tristan Cockcroft discusses in this article the trap that fantasy owners fall into when drafting rookie wide receivers:

    ...only 19 NFL rookie wide receivers since 1960 (that's 54 seasons) and six since 2000 (that's 14 seasons) managed to score 140 or more fantasy points. To put that into perspective, consider that 17 wide receivers managed at least 140 fantasy points in 2013 alone. 

    On top of the struggles of rookie wide receivers, the concerns surrounding Manuel could hold Watkins back this coming season. If a wide receiver plays in offense that has a shaky situation at quarterback, it is a major blow to his value. 

    The other concern with Watkins is that because of the player he is, defenses are going to focus on him more. While he faced this in college, the NFL is a different ballgame that requires a learning period for most players. This could cause some inconsistency from game to game for Watkins. He could be a very frustrating player for owners.

    Prediction: Low WR2/high WR3 option

3. EJ Manuel

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    Stephen Morton/Associated Press

    ESPN.com ADP: 150.3

    EJ Manuel is the player on this offense with the most questions entering this season. However, he could end up being a great late-round grab and make owners who draft him look very smart. The additions at wide receiver and the strong running game should allow Manuel to have a better season than his rookie year.

    One reason to like Manuel in 2014 is the added weapons the Bills have put around him in the offseason. The biggest addition is at wide receiver with rookie Sammy Watkins and veteran Mike Williams. These two, along with second-year pro Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, form a young but talented corps that should be open a lot for Manuel.

    The other reason to like Manuel is that he did a good job of protecting the ball as a rookie. In his 10 starts last year, he threw nine interceptions; however, four of them came in one game against the Bucs.

    Prediction: If he can continue to protect the ball while utilizing his new weapons, he could end the season as a solid QB2 or a backup option. 

2. C.J. Spiller

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    ESPN.com ADP: 40.9

    At this time last year, C.J. Spiller was considered a top first-round pick because of his dual-threat ability of running and receiving. He finished the year with 933 rushing yards but only 33 receptions and 185 receiving yards—his lowest totals in these two categories since his 2010 rookie season.

    One of the reasons for the drop in production was because of an ankle injury that he battled for the majority of the season. It was evident he lacked the explosiveness that fans have come to know.

    The injury is healed and should not be a concern for fantasy owners in drafting Spiller. The concern with him, though, has to be his lack of involvement in the passing game.

    Under Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett, the Bills did not utilize the screen as much as their predecessor Chan Gailey did. BuffaloBills.com's Chris Brown wrote that Spiller is expected to get 20 touches per game; however, they may not all be out of the backfield. If this is the case, Spiller could return to being a top running back in fantasy football.

    Prediction: RB1

1. Robert Woods

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    USA TODAY Sports

    ESPN.com ADP: 170.0

    One wide receiver on the Bills who could surprise some people is Robert Woods, especially in points per receptions (PPR) leagues. The second-year wide receiver is expected to take over for the departed Steve Johnson and work out of the slot in three-wide sets.

    The high expectations for Woods is not new, and there are articles dating back to May, like this one by Adam Rank of NFL.com, predicting 1,200 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns. Personally, I think that may be a little high for Woods, but doubling his stats from last year (40 receptions, 587 receiving yards and three touchdowns) is not out of the question.

    Prediction: By the end of the season, Woods should be considered a WR2 option.

     

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