When crafting a fantasy football roster, most fantasy managers carefully consider players from their favorite team. While some view themselves as the ultimate jinx, others throw caution to the wind and select those players who they root for during real action on Sundays.
As a Buffalo Bills fan and a fantasy football player during peak playoff drought seasons, true fantasy studs have been hard to come by for my favorite team. Eric Moulds, Lee Evans, Willis McGahee, and Fred Jackson provided some great hometown value in their day, but Bills fans were let down all too often in the real and fantasy worlds.
When one scans the 2018 Bills roster, it doesn’t look much different from a fantasy perspective than many Buffalo teams of the past 18 years. Draftable players are few and far between on this roster. Beyond a solid top three, select a Buffalo player at your own risk.
RB LeSean McCoy
K Stephen Hauschka
TE Charles Clay
McCoy may be a fantasy bust this year, but you have to be draft-worthy in order to be considered a possible bust in the first place. McCoy is clearly the best player on the Bills’ offense, a dynamic playmaker who can still shred opposing defenses in the open field. At 30 years old, he is staring dangerously close to the cliff that nearly all running backs encounter, and he is also coming off one of his worst seasons as a professional. He is still the most draft-worthy player on Buffalo’s roster, and the only skill-position player I would consider taking in a draft’s top seven rounds.
While you should never draft kickers or defenses early, you do need to roster them, and Buffalo has strong performers at two of fantasy football’s most overlooked (for good reason) positions. Hauschka is a must-have in leagues that reward kickers for making long field goals, as he led the NFL last season with seven makes from 50 yards or beyond. He shouldn’t be the first kicker off the board, either, so after someone in your league finishes his or her second pitcher of Molson before calmly selecting Stephen Gostkowski in round 8, feel free to laugh, wait a few rounds, and grab Hausch-Money for better value and similar production.
Buffalo’s defense and special teams was a surprise producer last season, forcing a ton of turnovers throughout the year. This helped to counteract a brutal stretch where they gave up a ton of points in the middle of the season. With improvements to the defensive line, we can expect more sacks from this unit. Combine that with a ball-hawking, disciplined secondary, and we could be looking at another strong fantasy showing from Buffalo’s D/ST.
As for Buffalo’s pass-catchers, there aren’t many worth fantasy relevance. Charles Clay is one of the Bills’ better athletes, and in a scheme that should heavily involve the tight end, Clay will continue to receive a high target share. With Kelvin Benjamin drawing doubles on the outside, Clay could find room to operate in one-on-one situations over the middle.
Draft, but not too soon
WR Kelvin Benjamin
RB Chris Ivory
I’m not bullish on Benjamin, as he is the only wide receiver on Buffalo’s roster worth noting in fantasy circles. Until Zay Jones proves otherwise, Benjamin is also the only wide receiver on Buffalo’s roster most defensive coordinators will look to shut down, as well. Benjamin’s best NFL season came in 2014; since tearing his ACL and missing the entire 2015 season, he has not lived up to lofty expectations. He is a good WR-3 or flex option, but he should not be drafted before the eighth round.
Ivory will be a popular handcuff option, but he isn’t someone who should be expected to be much more than a 5-7 carry per game change of pace for McCoy. Even if McCoy is injured, you could probably do better than Ivory on the waiver wire, as he has only averaged 3.6 yards per rush over his last two seasons.
Stash in dynasty leagues
QB Josh Allen
Regardless of who Buffalo’s starting quarterback is, I wouldn’t draft him with the intention of playing him this season. However, whether Allen is named the starter or not, he isn’t a bad selection for stashing purposes in deeper leagues, in two-QB leagues, or in dynasty leagues. His long-term potential is at least intriguing enough where you can justify adding another Buffalo player to your squad.