With Nathan Peterman starting at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, the known quantities in Buffalo’s offensive attack suddenly become far more variable. Which receivers will the rookie target? Will he be as apt to check down as Tyrod Taylor had become, or will offensive coordinator Rick Dennison finally have the chance to show that his system works with the right quarterback? Buffalo’s skill position players will be serious fantasy football question marks heading into this week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
If you’re looking at the waiver wire to add a quarterback, I would not recommend adding Peterman to your roster. While Taylor was 16th in fantasy scoring running an offense that wasn’t suited to his abilities, his 237 yards rushing buoyed his total. It’s highly unlikely that Peterman will add value via his legs, and with a low-volume passing attack that will almost certainly lean even more heavily on the running game, Peterman is a last-resort option for fantasy players with a bad quarterback situation or an injured quarterback. If your league plays two quarterbacks, I’d still recommend waiting to see a game from the rookie before inserting him in your starting lineup.
Most young quarterbacks love a steady, reliable tight end, and Buffalo has one of those in Charles Clay. The veteran has served as Taylor’s security blanket this season, and he will almost certainly continue in that role for Peterman this Sunday. Clay has 31 targets in 6 games, and it’s reasonable to assume that total will shoot upward this week.
Another weapon Peterman is sure to utilize is Kelvin Benjamin, Buffalo’s 6’5”, 241-pound wide receiver. Peterman targeted Benjamin three times in the fourth quarter, and Benjamin caught two of those targets for 33 yards. I imagine that the Bills will utilize Peterman’s comfort throwing to windows rather to exploit Benjamin’s matchup advantages going forward. Of the other receivers, fellow rookie Zay Jones will probably continue to be targeted heavily. For all of Tyrod Taylor’s struggles to find a connection with Jones, the second-round pick out of East Carolina was Taylor’s most targeted receiver this season, seeing 44 passes come his way. Jordan Matthews should love Peterman’s quick release, which will pave the way for more touches for the versatile slot receiver. The one wide receiver whose production will probably slip is Deonte Thompson, whose chemistry with Taylor was a big plus, and his greatest strength, the vertical route, was also Taylor’s best asset. With Peterman relying less on the deep ball and more on the timing-based elements associated with a West Coast attack, Thompson will remain a boom-or-bust fantasy play with greater bust potential.
LeSean McCoy has seen plenty of stacked boxes this season, and he hasn’t been able to do as much as he usually does as a result. His 3.8 yards per carry average would be a career-low, and the 1,058 yards he’s on pace to gain would be the lowest total of his career for a season in which he played all 16 games. McCoy is currently the most targeted Buffalo player in the passing game with 52, and it will be interesting to see if that trend continues. The same predictable swing passes haven’t worked well at all, so maybe the coaching staff will add some screen passes instead in order to quell the ferocious pass rushes that Buffalo’s rookie signal caller is sure to see. In any case, expect the Bills to lean even more heavily on their bell-cow back to keep the pressure off of Peterman.
Finally, we can expect an uptick in production from kicker Stephen Hauschka. Hopefully, the increase in scoring comes in the form of more extra points, but realistically, if Peterman keeps the offense on schedule and gains enough yardage to give Hauschka a chance, I expect conservative play calling to make sure that points go on the board. Hauschka is already 5-for-5 on field goals of 50 or more yards, and I expect that he’ll add to that total as the year progresses.