As the mercury rises and we inch closer to the open of training camps, our resident fantasy football sickos, Brad Evans and Liz Loza, will profile their favorite booms/busts of every NFL team. Today’s topic: The Fightin’ Jim Kellys.
The Bills roster isn’t exactly chock full of premium fantasy options. However, what one player has the most BOOM (return on investment) potential this fall?
Brad – CHARLES CLAY. Full disclosure, it’s highly unlikely I’ll own a single Buffalo player this season, even with 12-14 fantasy franchises in my portfolio. Just glancing at the roster churns the stomach. However, Clay is a strong candidate for a handsome ROI.
Mostly with Tyrod Taylor last year, he enticed a 20.1 percent target share, averaged an appreciable 7.5 yards per target and posted a 66.2 catch rate. Most importantly, when taking first-team snaps over a four-game stretch with Cincinnati in 2015, A.J. McCarron targeted tight ends 7.0 times per contest, a good sign Clay will be a primary option. He’s essentially a giveaway at his 200-plus ADP.
Liz – KELVIN BENJAMIN. By no means is this a ringing endorsement, but the Bills just drafted a QB whose arm is as strong as it is inaccurate. And while Benjamin has struggled to break out, he is still a giant target (6-foot-5 and 240 pounds) that could prove useful to Josh Allen. After all, surrounding Cam Newton with size sure did seem to be a plan for that big-bodied QB, who has a reputation for throwing high and wild.
Benjamin’s sample size as a Bill is admittedly small. He was only healthy for one game (Week 10). It’s worth noting that in that outing he was targeted six times (twice in the red zone) and pulled down three grabs for 42 yards. That’s not bad for a guy who had less than two weeks to learn the playbook. Assuming that he’s fully recovered from his offseason knee surgery, Benjamin will line up as the team’s X receiver. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, he has an opportunity to own Buffalo’s passing game.
On the flipside, what player should owners avoid like an encounter with a rabid raccoon?
Liz – CHARLES CLAY. Brad makes some excellent points above, but all of those hinge upon the 29-year-old Clay staying healthy. He’s struggled through knee issues for years, and suffered last season from hamstring flair-ups as well. Beyond that, Nick O’Leary (who was serviceable when Clay was out from Weeks 7-9, putting up two outings of over 50 yards) was signed to a one-year deal, and athletic marvel Logan Thomas remains on the team’s roster. This might be one of the few positions at which the Bills have depth.
Brad – LESEAN MCCOY. At age 30, Shady has officially entered into the twilight of his career, and potentially stepped foot into the Temple of Doom. Invest in his services and you better cover your heart.
He’s sure to top 300 total touches once again, but not a single member of the Bills’ projected offensive line, a unit that ranked No. 27 in overall run-blocking efficiency last year, posted an above average rating according to Pro Football Focus. Couple that with McCoy’s unsightly 0.73 fantasy points per opportunity from 2017 (RB73), his accumulated mileage and pessimistic views tied to Buffalo’s pass game and he’s likely to fall outside the RB top-15.
Admittedly, McCoy is priced appropriately at his early 21.9 ADP (RB12), but it’s wise not to overreach. The Bills’ roster is a lava-flow aftermath.
BELIEVE OR MAKE BELIEVE. First-round pick Josh Allen supplants A.J. McCarron as the starter by Week 9 and offers tantalizing glimpses of his long-term upside.
Brad – MAKE BELIEVE. It’s comical GM Brandon Beane traded up for a player with a potential career apex is Jeff George or Jay Cutler. And that’s a long shot.
Allen is a gym clothes giant and nothing more. His arm strength is dynamite, but the appalling inaccuracy and mind-numbing decision making he displayed at Wyoming were laughable. And don’t buy into the misnomers he rarely threw short or his receivers dropped the ball excessively. In actuality, Allen ranked third in most passes thrown between 0-9 yards among this year’s QB class and Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen were plagued by more receiver miscues.
Bottom line, Allen must incubate for 1-2 years before he’s pushed into the spotlight. If not, and he’ll be a disaster reminiscent of another first-round bust, J.P. Losman.
Liz – BELIEVE that Allen will replace McCarron before November. MAKE BELIEVE that he’ll ROI immediately.
McCarron is making $5 million a year in Orchard Park. That’s hardly starter money. The Bills didn’t trade away three picks to move up five spots so that they could lean on Andy Dalton’s backup… not on the heels of their first playoff appearance in 17 years and with Shady McCoy entering his age 30 season. Allen, however, is going to have a better time driving the struggle bus than the Bills’ offense. Partially because his game is green, and partially because he’s lacking weapons. It’s going to be a long winter in Western New York.