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Buffalo Bills play, position rankings highlight comparisons to NFL

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Where do the pieces of the team rank amongst the NFL?

Buffalo Bills v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The bye week is a time that teams use to rest and re-examine where they’re at. Let’s do the same and take a look at where individual players and some position groups rank in the league. If you’re looking for how the offense and defense are doing as whole units, you can read Jeff Hunter’s analysis.

I will be using Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) for most of these rankings. I’ll point out where that is not the case. Click the link above for a extremely thorough explanation of DYAR. The basic explanation is here:

“DYAR, or Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement [...] gives the value of the quarterback's performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.”

These rankings and stats are through Week 5. The Thursday night game between the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles is not included.

Offense

Quarterback

Football Outsiders has Tyrod Taylor ranked 19th amongst quarterbacks based on DYAR. First in the league in DYAR is Alex Smith and second is everyone’s least favorite GOAT.

Running back

LeSean McCoy is the 27th best runningback so far in 2017 according DYAR. Shady is currently sitting at -16 DYAR. First in the league is Kareem Hunt with 168 DYAR. Mike Tolbert does not have enough touches (less than 40) to qualify for their overall rankings, but has a +2 DYAR.

Wide Receiver

Football Outsiders has Zay Jones as the Bills highest ranked wide receiver at 71st with -67 DYAR. Jordan Matthews has a much higher DYAR (61), but only has 13 targets so he doesn’t qualify for their rankings. If Matthews came back and continued on his DYAR pace he would be tied with Devin Funchess for 24th in the NFL.

Tight End

Charles Clay is the highest ranking Bills offensive position player at 8th among tight ends with 42 DYAR. First in the league is Ed Dickson, Greg Olsen’s replacement in Carolina, but his ranking is a bit of an anomaly. He only has 14 touches whereas Travis Kelce (2nd) and Rob Gronkowski (3rd) more than double that.

Offensive Line

For offensive lines Football Outsiders uses adjusted yards to rank offensive lines run blocking. They use adjusted sack rate to rate them on pass blocking. Explanations for these stat are at the top of their rankings. The Bills offensive line ranks 25th in run blocking and 31st in pass blocking. The Green Bay Packers are first in run blocking and the New Orleans Saints are first in pass blocking. The only team behind the Bills in pass blocking is the Houston Texans.


Defense

Defensive Line

Football Outsiders uses the same stat and separation for defensive line as they do for offensive line. The Bills are one of the best units in the league against the run at 6th, but in the bottom third against the pass at 28th. First in the league against the run goes to the Philadelphia Eagles and first against the pass is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Linebackers

Football Outsiders doesn’t rank linebackers or secondary players so for this section and the next I’ll be using Pro Football Reference to pull some stats. Going by tackles, Ramon Humber has been the Bills best LB this season. He is tied for 15th in the league with 27 tackles (plus 8 assisted tackles). Preston Brown has only 14 tackles, making him tied for 155th in the league. He does have 24 assisted tackles though, so if you combine tackles and assisted tackles, Brown ranks 19th in the league. First, by that stat, is former Sean McDermott coached linebacker, Luke Kuechly.

Secondary

The revamped Bills secondary has been playing extremely well and the stats reflect that. Rookie Tre’Davious White is number one in the NFL in passes defended with 11. He’s not the only Bill towards the top in that statistic either all four starting Bills defensive backs (White, Gaines, Hyde, and Poyer) are in the top 25 in the NFL for passes defended. Micah Hyde also leads the league with 4 interceptions.