2020 Fantasy Preview: Buffalo Bills
Last year was the start of the coming-out party for the Buffalo Bills. For the first time since 1999, they won double digit games. For only the second time since 1999, they made the playoffs. Tom Brady is finally out of the division, the Jets and the Dolphins are still the Jets and the Dolphins, and things are looking up in a big way for the Bills (as long as we ignore the brutal playoff loss). How about the offense? Josh Allen returns behind center for year-three and Devin Singletary returns as the lead back after a strong rookie showing. Newcomer Stefon Diggs will shore up the receiving corps (alongside John Brown and Cole Beasley) and rookie running back Zack Moss will spell Singletary in the backfield. Dawson Knox is the name to know at tight end. With an offense full of weapons, let’s see how things look for the 2020 season.
ADP: 99.1, QB11
Josh Allen largely improved in year two, seeing a spike in completion percentage, touchdown percentage, and a nice drop in his interception rate. Allen has a strong arm and he isn’t afraid to let the ball fly. Perhaps his greatest strength, though, is as a runner. Allen averages just over 40 rushing yards per game or roughly 640 yards over the course of the season. Anyone who plays fantasy football knows about the quarterback rushing cheat code. Is there any reason to be worried? Unfortunately yes. While Allen was safer throwing the ball, he still accounted for 23 turnovers last year. The passing game also seems to be an afterthought in Buffalo. Of the 13 quarterbacks to play 16 games last year, Allen had the lowest marks for completions, attempts, yards, and touchdowns. Allen will probably never be a high-volume passer, and in this regard, he needs those rushing yards just to stay afloat. I don’t love him as a player, but he looks like a strong fantasy option at quarterback.
Best Case: Allen continues to improve as a passer and earns a bit more of the team’s trust with each passing week. Against a subpar division he feasts, on his way to a 30 touchdown season that puts him in the MVP conversation. The Bills win the AFC East and the Patriots are left on the outside looking in.
Worst Case: Allen regresses from an apparent breakout, taking the whole passing game with him. He continues to be careless with the ball and racks up another 15 fumbles to go along with a dozen interceptions. Bills fans are left wondering who they plan to draft at quarterback next year.
2020 Projection: 480 attempts, 288 completions, 3250 yards, 22 TD, 12 INT; 100 carries, 530 yards, 8 TD, 11 fumbles
ADP: 41.5, RB23
Devin Singletary was, in my opinion, the brightest spot on the offense last year. In 12 games, he totaled 775 rushing yards and 194 receiving yards. That pace would give him nearly 1300 yards from scrimmage over 16 games. Singletary passed the eye test for me, and I expect him to be heavily involved once more in 2020. There are a couple of caveats, though. Be aware that rookie Zack Moss joins the team and looks to be taking the ‘Frank Gore’ role. This means we should keep our touchdown expectations low. Singletary will also need to be more involved in the passing game. The Bills only targeted the running back position about 60 times last year and 41 of those went to Singletary. I’d like to see that number jump. Either way, I expect the Bills to be run-heavy once more in 2020, and Singletary will get his fair share of opportunities.
Best Case: Singletary continues his fast start in 2019 and becomes the top weapon in the backfield. Moss steals some carries here and there, but Singletary remains the top play-maker in the backfield on his way to 1500 yards from scrimmage.
Worst Case: Singletary proves that 2019 was an aberration, and he has trouble keeping up with the more talented Moss. Moss steals the lead job and the bulk of the carries, including all red zone work. Singletary is relegated to the change-of-pace role and fades from fantasy relevance.
2020 Projection: 201 carries, 985 rushing yards, 5 TD; 60 targets, 39 receptions, 260 receiving yards, 4 TD
ADP: 109.8, RB46
Zack Moss was the third-round selection of the Buffalo Bills and he hails from the University of Utah. Moss looks to be replacing the departed Frank Gore, and the team has said as much. Gore was 36 years old last season and still managed 166 carries and 16 targets. Moss should be expected for around the same, if not more, assuming he learns quickly. Moss is known as a powerful runner and a skilled blocker, which bodes well for playing time right away. Expect Moss to earn a big role alongside Singletary and for the team to run, run, run.
Best Case: Moss proves himself to be a three-down back and grabs the lead role from Singletary. On a team that wants to run, Moss runs his way to the lead role and dominates the red zone work. Talk of a split backfield seems ridiculous by year’s end.
Worst Case: Moss has trouble gaining traction as a runner and his strong pass-blocking isn’t enough to keep him on the field. Before he can break out, he goes down to yet another injury and the Bills sign a replacement from the practice squad. Moss’ future with the team is uncertain.
2020 Projection: 150 carries, 625 yards, 6 TD; 30 targets, 18 receptions, 108 yards, 2 TD
ADP: 60.3, WR26
After 2018, Stefon Diggs appeared well on his way to becoming a superstar. On top of his excellent route running, he was averaging 10 targets per game. Once Adam Thielen went down to injury early in 2019, I knew the explosion was coming. Crickets. Diggs saw drops in targets, receptions, and touchdowns despite being the only show in town. Fast forward to 2020 and he joins a Bills team in need of a top receiver. So, should we be more excited? Less? In reality, I consider this a slight downgrade. Both the Vikings and the Bills want to be run-heavy and both have a hole at the receiver position. I have Kirk Cousins as a better passer than Josh Allen, and I don’t like guys who change teams, in year-one anyway. Diggs is still an excellent receiver, but I’m expecting more 2019 and less 2018 in Buffalo.
Best Case: Diggs and Allen establish a quick connection as Diggs develops into a target monster. He dominates the sparse Buffalo passing game on his way to career marks in yards and touchdowns.
Worst Case: Diggs continues his streaky play from last year, but his efficiency stats don’t hold up to their previously excellent levels. Diggs finishes short of 100 targets and 1,000 yards for the first time since 2017.
2020 Projection: 130 targets, 80 receptions, 1100 yards, 8 TD
ADP: 143.2, WR56
John Brown was the top dog in Buffalo last season, posting career bests in targets, receptions, and yards. Brown is still only 29 with low mileage, so it’s conceivable he has a few more years at his current level. I think Brown and Diggs will fit well together; Brown should take the top off the defense while Diggs uses his route running to get open underneath. If all goes according to plan, Buffalo could be looking at their best passing attack in years. The biggest question is still if there will be enough to go around. Without a more robust air attack, someone in Buffalo is going hungry. Given the first-round pick spent on Diggs, Brown will have to hope the leftovers are enough.
Best Case: Brown becomes the new Thielen to Diggs, and he benefits from fewer top corners. He takes a step forward from 2019 and breaks one thousand yards for a second consecutive season. He also tallies a team-high 10 touchdowns as the Bills develop into a well-rounded offense.
Worst Case: Brown’s 2019 season proves an anomaly. There isn’t enough volume to go around, and Brown is relegated to a couple of deep shots here and there. He goes down with an injury midseason and hobbles to the finish of a disappointing year.
2020 Projection: 100 targets, 60 receptions, 900 yards, 6 TD
ADP: 309, TE27
Dawson Knox is the only tight end worth noting in Buffalo, and he is coming off a solid rookie season where he saw 50 targets and 388 yards in the regular season–each number finishing third-best on the team. Knox would be a nice tight end option in a higher-flying pass attack, but he is fighting for scraps in Buffalo. It’s hard to consider him as anything better than the third target, and even that spot is hardly a given with Cole Beasley, Singletary, and Moss in the mix. I like the future potential of Knox, but I am not optimistic about 2020.
Best Case: Knox continues to develop and becomes the clear third option behind Diggs and Brown. He cracks 600 yards and 5 touchdowns while helping the run game excel via his blocking. He enters 2021 as a top-ten option.
Worst Case: Knox is lost in the mix of weapons and sees a drop in all major receiving stats as there just isn’t enough to go around. He struggles to flash and proves all but useless for fantasy purposes.
2020 Projection: 50 targets, 30 receptions, 400 yards, 3 TD
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)