The Buffalo Bills have not had a strong 2018 season, whether one examines it from a real-life or fantasy football perspective. The team has struggled to generate any consistent offense, and they’ve averaged a paltry 13.7 points per game—last in the league by just .1 points per game. (The Arizona Cardinals check in at 31st, averaging 13.8 points per contest.)
As a result of the team’s overall offensive ineptitude, the Bills have not exactly had many players worthy of fantasy football recognition. Skill-position players on Buffalo’s roster rank no higher than 33rd at their respective positions. The specialists are a bit better, but they still have not been consistent fantasy scorers.
As fantasy football playoff time comes closer, however, there are multiple angles to consider when solidifying your roster. Fantasy football is a weekly game, so examining match-ups and trends is essential to continued success. As teams begin to consider limiting touches for their star players before the NFL Playoffs begin, fantasy locks become less of a sure thing, leaving room for some less-heralded players to emerge. This is especially true if your league’s championship game takes place in Week 17.
So, when discussing the viability of a Buffalo Bills player on your fantasy roster, you’ll need to look past the ugly statistics that the player has earned to date, and instead focus on the possibility that the player will earn at a greater rate in future contests. There are at least a few Bills who stand to be considerations throughout the coming weeks.
RB LeSean McCoy
Year-to-Date Fantasy Points: 81.1
Positional Rank: 33
Availability in Yahoo! Leagues: 16%
Yes, Buffalo’s leading fantasy point scorer has only 81 points. And yes, 24.3 of those points came in last week’s demolition of the New York Jets. Shockingly, McCoy is available in 16% of Yahoo! leagues—something that never was the case in years past. Even though he struggled mightily throughout the first ten games of the season, McCoy has a chance to be the RB1 over the last six games that you thought he’d be when you drafted him early. With games against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, and New York Jets, as well as two dates with the Miami Dolphins, Shady has some soft match-ups to earn plenty of points as the season draws to a close. Even the games that look difficult on paper (Jacksonville) aren’t all that bad. The Jaguars have allowed 4.2 yards per carry (YPC) this season, along with 118.6 yards per game on the ground. The best run defense left on Buffalo’s schedule is New England, who ranks 16th (4.4 YPC; 111 yards per game); the Lions and the Dolphins rank 28th and 32nd, respectively.
RB Chris Ivory
Year-to-Date Fantasy Points: 55.9
Positional Rank: 47
Availability in Yahoo! Leagues: 94%
For the same reasons you should consider adding Shady, you should also consider stashing Ivory. As far as complementary backs go, he has a huge carry share (80 as compared to McCoy’s 111), and he has been fairly effective when given a larger role in the offense. Granted, Buffalo’s rushing attack looked better than it had all season when Ivory was inactive, but that had less to do with the bruising runner’s absence than it did solid quarterback play from Matt Barkley (There’s something I never thought I’d type!). If the Bills commit to a run-heavy attack with multiple misdirection plays and quarterback Josh Allen can make defenses stay honest, then it’s not out of the question for Ivory to see 10-12 touches per game. As a match-up-dependent flex who is one injury away from seeing 20 carries per game, that’s worth far more than a second defense or kicker at the back end of your bench.
WR Zay Jones
Year-to-Date Fantasy Points: 69.7
Positional Rank: 56
Availability in Yahoo! Leagues: 99%
There are definitely more attractive options out there than the leading receiver on the league’s worst passing offense. However, it’s clear that the Bills are remaking the receiver room to add what they’ve lacked—speedy receivers who can stretch the field—and in the first game with some new faces, it worked quite well. Players like Robert Foster and Isaiah McKenzie added a new dimension to Buffalo’s deep attack, and the team also re-acquired veteran speedster Deonte Thompson to help the vertical passing game. This leaves possession types like Jones and Kelvin Benjamin able to work in space underneath. While the latter looks about as interested on the field as my students do when I start talking about sentence structure, Jones has looked rejuvenated in his second season. He’s coming off the best performance of his young career, and he’s available in almost every fantasy league out there. You could make the argument that Foster or Thompson might be better adds due to their deep-ball potential, but that’s a little too boom-or-bust for me. Jones sees a high share of targets in the Bills’ passing game (59 of 317 pass attempts have come his way), and he’s caught 62.7% of those targets this year. When looking for fantasy football help at wide receiver, half the battle is finding those who will have the opportunity to score. Zay fits the bill.
K Stephen Hauschka
Year-to-Date Fantasy Points: 71
Positional Rank: 18
Availability in Yahoo! Leagues: 97%
Buffalo’s second-leading fantasy scorer is Hauschka, whose scoring potential has been limited by a putrid offense for much of the season. However, he has been even more accurate than he was last season, as he has hit on 15-of-16 field goals. His one miss was a 52-yard field goal in the second quarter of the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, Hauschka has four more attempts of 50 or more yards, and he’s hit on every one of them. The one possible negative about adding him is that Buffalo plays four more home games to end the season, three of which will come in December. If the weather is wild, kicking is incredibly difficult, and the swirling winds at New Era Field often wreak havoc on kickers. Hauschka is a great streaming option at a position where stealing some extra points is always good for business.
Year-to-Date Fantasy Points: 64
Positional Rank: 18
Availability in Yahoo! Leagues: 85%
This is how good Buffalo’s stop unit has been: they’ve allowed over 30 points four times this season. In those games, they scored 0, 1, -2, and 2 fantasy points. For those who are really bad at math, that means that in four of their games, the Bills have totaled 1 point; however, in the other 6, they’ve combined to score 63. If you’re confident that the offense has better days ahead, that means that the defense will be in fewer back-breaking positions as the season comes to a close. With four seemingly prime match-ups and two more that could work out better than the numbers suggest (Detroit outside in December? New England in Week 16 when they’ll probably have everything sewn up that they can?), the Bills’ defense could be a great add down the stretch. I’m not a proponent of keeping more than one defense on your roster, but if you’re afraid to take the leap and make them your one and only, playing them in tandem with another defense could yield great results.
QB Josh Allen
Year-to-Date Fantasy Points: 67.78
Positional Rank: 34
Availability in Yahoo! Leagues: 98%
How crazy are you feeling? I’m not suggesting that you dump your starting quarterback and start Allen (Who would be that crazy? *Checks notes*...oh...), but I will suggest that he could be a smart stash for the fantasy playoffs. Picture this: you’ve ridden Drew Brees to your league’s championship game, but the 13-2 New Orleans Saints decide to start Taysom Hill in their meaningless regular-season finale. You know that Hill plays in a great offense, but you also know that he’s probably going to hand the ball off to Mike Gillislee 25 times. This could leave you scrambling for a quarterback at the eleventh hour. If your league plays a Week 17 championship game, you know that those games can be an absolute free-for-all, with no-name players and waiver-wire adds saving the day. I once saw a guy win my fantasy league by adding Tim Tebow and Joe McKnight in Week 17 to replace his regular starters. Josh Allen will face the Miami Dolphins in the last game of the season, and he will also face a New England Patriots squad in Week 16 that could have very little left to play for, if anything at all. With the Bills adding speedy receivers to, presumably, take advantage of the rookie’s rocket arm, he could be in for a strong finish to his first campaign.
TE Jason Croom
TE Logan Thomas
At a shallow position, adding one of Buffalo’s hyper-athletic tight ends not named Charles Clay is a worthwhile boom-or-bust proposition. The Bills will almost definitely move on from Clay next year, and the two young players currently on the roster will each be auditioning for a greater role in 2019 as this season comes to an end.