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Andy Behrens

Juggernaut Index No. 21: Nobody circles the Jaurons like the Bills

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

The Juggernaut Index is our annual attempt to rank every NFL team for fantasy purposes. We're not concerned with real-life wins and losses here, only fantasy potential. These rankings rely on hard, incontrovertible math. There are algorithms at work. This stuff is peer-reviewed. Seasons are simulated. You can't argue with science, so don't even try...

21. Buffalo Bills

You didn't really think a Dick Jauron coached team was going to make it out of the 20s, right?

Of course not.

Still, there's a lot to like about Buffalo heading into this season. Let's begin with Marshawn Lynch, the No. 10 running back in our composite ra--

Wait, no. Instead, let's begin with one of the all-time Yahoo! Sports interviews:

Yeah, that's Beast Mode. It would take approximately 8,000 little orange Wonka dudes to tackle him.

Lynch is rated No. 13 overall on the Big Board, and with good reason. In a hugely successful rookie season, he rushed for 1,115 yards and seven TDs in only 13 games. If week-to-week consistency is what you value, then Lynch is your guy. His lowest rushing total last season was 61 yards, and he still scored a fourth-quarter touchdown in that game. He runs brutally hard, almost angry, and he's elusive when the situation demands it.

The Bills ran slightly more often than they threw last season (28.0 R/G, 27.8 P/G), and Lynch is their undisputed feature back. There's no committee there. Fred Jackson is the handcuff, but that's all. Lynch is without question a No. 1 fantasy running back.

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Prior to last season, we'd have said that Lee Evans was a borderline No. 1 fantasy wide receiver, but his production declined substantially from 2006 to 2007. He lost 27 receptions and 443 yards, and now you'd have to say that he's a borderline No. 2 fantasy WR at best. Like many such players, he's a binge scorer.

It's worth noting that Evans was particularly bad prior to Buffalo's Week 6 bye last year. Entering Week 7, he was averaging 2.4 receptions and 22.6 yards per game. In the Bills' next three games he had 98, 138 and 165 receiving yards.

Of course, many of those yards were credited to JP Losman, not Trent Edwards.

The 24-year-old Edwards enters this season as the Bills' starting QB. Losman has the bigger arm, which suits Evans' deep-threat style, but Edwards is less likely to take a sack and more likely to make the conservative, Jauronian decision. Losman is now a back-up. The Buffalo offensive line should be very good, assuming Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters gets his contract situation settled. Edwards will have solid protection, but he's not a quarterback who belongs on public league fantasy rosters just yet.

Expect rookie James Hardy, the 41st overall pick in the NFL Draft, to emerge as the Bills' No. 2 receiver. At 6-7 and 220 pounds, he'll be an easy target for Edwards to spot. Hardy was a TD machine at Indiana, finding the end zone 36 times over three seasons, and 16 times last year. He's obviously a red zone threat. Rivals referred to him as a "top-25 prospect with Pro Bowl potential."

Let's just say that as an Iowa grad, I'm not prepared to argue with that assessment. Hardy was pure torture.

He's currently No. 61 in the Yahoo! composite ranks at receiver. Hardy is a solid late-round pick in deep leagues, and a player you'll target in dynasty drafts.

The Buffalo defense had one of the league's lowest sack totals last season (26), but they still managed a middle-of-the-pack finish in fantasy scoring (120 points), and they generated 30 turnovers. They face a friendly schedule (see below), LB Paul Posluszny is back, and the Bills' return teams are excellent. In Weeks 12-15, Buffalo gets Kansas City, San Francisco, Miami and the Jets, four teams you'll find near the bottom of the Juggernaut Index. So the Bills defense could certainly find its way onto fantasy rosters.

On offense, however, Lynch and Evans are the only clear Week 1 fantasy starters. Buffalo was last in the AFC in red zone possessions in 2007, next-to-last in points per game, and they were last in the NFL in red zone TDs. There just aren't many points to go around.

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2007 Buffalo team stats

Rushing: 112.5 Y/G

Passing: 164.6 Y/G

Points per game: 15.8

Turnovers: 21

Red Zone possessions and TDs: 34, 13

'08 Schedule strength: .449

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The rest of the Index...

32) Chicago, 31) Tennessee, 30) San Francisco, 29) Miami, 28) Baltimore, 27) NY Jets, 26) Oakland, 25) Tampa Bay, 24) Atlanta, 23) Houston, 22) Kansas City, 21) Buffalo

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