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Buffalo Bills fantasy football primer: quarterbacks

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An early look at the fantasy value for Bills quarterbacks

With the return of NFL training camps comes the return of both real and fantasy football. For Buffalo Bills fans looking to draft their favorite players from their favorite team onto their make-believe one, there may be no more polarizing player than the team’s starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor. Debates about Taylor’s effectiveness have raged since his ascension to the starting role in 2015. Rather than delving into his real-life value, I’ll only be focusing on his fantasy value for the purposes of this article. We can debate whether or not Tyrod is “the guy” for the Bills at a later date.

While Taylor has been inconsistent at times from a passing standpoint, he has been a model of consistency over the past two seasons from a fantasy football standpoint. Using Yahoo! standard scoring metrics (4 points per passing TD, 25 passing yards/point, 10 rushing yards/point, 6 points per rushing TD), Taylor scored 277.1 points in 14 games in 2015, and then went on to score 276.92 points in 15 games in 2016. Those totals were good for 16th among quarterbacks in 2015 and 11th among quarterbacks in 2016. In 2017, Yahoo! projects Taylor to remain about the same, projecting him to score 295.02 fantasy points while starting all 16 games.

From a real numbers standpoint, Yahoo! thinks Taylor will throw for 3,544 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions in 2017. They’ve projected him to rush for 509 yards and 4 additional touchdowns, as well. That performance would be good for another 11th-place finish among quarterbacks in terms of fantasy scoring.

Based on this, one would assume that Taylor is going close to 11th among quarterbacks in fantasy drafts, right? Wrong. Taylor represents a great value on draft day, as he is currently being drafted 18th among quarterbacks (Full disclosure—I removed four players whose average draft position, or ADP, is higher than Taylor’s, but who have been drafted in less than 10% of fantasy leagues. Those players are Alex Smith, Sam Bradford, Deshaun Watson, and Matt Schaub...yep, THAT Matt Schaub). In all Yahoo! drafts, Taylor’s current ADP is 126.7, and the average round in which he’s drafted is 14.4.

Matt Ryan, quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, is projected to score 304.82 points on the year. He is projected to be the tenth-ranked quarterback, yet his ADP is 49.7, or somewhere in the sixth round. Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers is projected to score 266.54 points, yet he’s being drafted around 70th, or somewhere in the beginning of the 8th round, on average. Taylor is either being over-hyped as a fantasy option, which is unlikely, since his projected point total is right around where he’s been for two years, or he’s being under-drafted. I’ll take the latter in this case.

Depending on your strategy, you could do a lot worse than drafting Tyrod Taylor as your starting fantasy quarterback. If you subscribe to the theory that all the “league-average” quarterbacks are, for fantasy purposes, essentially the same, filling out your running backs and wide receivers before grabbing someone like Taylor late in the draft is a smart play. If you grab an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers early on, Taylor is an above-average bye week fill-in who could be a good trade chip if another quarterback is injured.

Thinking of drafting a Buffalo Bills quarterback not named Tyrod Taylor? Well, if someone does this at your fantasy draft and he or she is driving home, I suggest you call that person an Uber and order a glass of water. If the person is drafting at home, however, please suggest another beer for that reckless fantasy general manager. Even in the deepest of two-quarterback leagues, a pick where T.J. Yates or Nathan Peterman is called is a pick wasted.

We’ll revisit this projection after some preseason games and also add some projections of our own before the real NFL season begins.