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LeSean McCoy is Buffalo Bills’ biggest potential 2018 fantasy football bust

For multiple reasons, Buffalo’s best player is also a risky fantasy play

In 2017, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimated that 59.3 million people played fantasy sports. In 2014, Forbes estimated that 33 million people alone played fantasy football.

As a Buffalo Bills fan first and a fantasy football player second, I deal with the yearly struggle that I’m sure many of you face when constructing your fantasy roster. Do I select players from my favorite squad, putting my gambling (purely for pride, of course!) interests and my rooting interests on equal footing? Or, do I avoid the jinx that always comes with drafting “my” players?

Inevitably, there will be players selected who “bust” in a fantasy football draft. There will be just as many players who exceed expectations, of course, whether they are selected at the end of a draft or plucked from the waiver wire.

Which Buffalo Bills are the most likely to bust in 2018? People may have a slightly different definition of “bust,” but for me, a player can’t be a bust if he’s drafted in the late rounds of a fantasy draft. Once the first six to eight rounds pass, even the “experts” can’t be sure as to who will perform and who won’t. So Zay Jones won’t be listed here, as anyone selecting him before the tail-end of a draft is probably a cellar-dweller or a family friend of Zay.

With draftable players few and far between on Buffalo’s 2018 roster, here is the grouping that is most likely to bust this season.

RB LeSean McCoy

The conundrum with Shady is obvious—at 30 years old, he has been an elite player for his entire career. However, he is approaching 3,000 touches on his career, having surpassed the 2,500 touch mark last season, and he is coming off of his least efficient year in his career. He averaged a career-worst 4 yards per carry in 2017, which could have been a result of multiple factors (age, quarterback play, scheme, tough defenses in the early portion of the year).

Add in a questionable legal scenario to begin the season, and McCoy is a risk at his current draft slot. Granted, with each passing day that provides no news on charges against him, the possibility of a serious suspension lessens; however, it is possible that McCoy ends up on the commissioner’s exempt list at some point while an investigation occurs. McCoy’s average draft slot is 18.8 in ESPN leagues, meaning he’s going in the middle of the second round on average. There are ten running backs being drafted before him.

Last year, McCoy finished the season as RB-7 in ESPN’s standard PPR formats. Drafting the seventh-best running back as RB-11 would be a good deal, but there is no way to guarantee that McCoy’s past prowess carries over into 2018. Given his age, the uncertainty at quarterback, and the lack of talent overall on offense, McCoy will be a risky selection either at the back end of round one or in the middle of round two.

WR Kelvin Benjamin

Given the dearth of actually draftable players on Buffalo’s roster, some Bills fans might reach for a player on their favorite team. Among the most likely to be overdrafted is Buffalo’s top receiver, wideout Kelvin Benjamin.

Last season was a wash for the 6’5” target, as he switched rosters halfway through the season, coming to Buffalo via the Carolina Panthers in a trade on Halloween. Benjamin combined for 48 receptions, 692 yards, and 3 touchdowns although he did catch a career-high 61.5% of his targets. Currently, Benjamin is being drafted 96th, putting him right in the heart of the eighth round. That means that on most rosters, he’s a WR-3, which is about as much as he can expect to be in what figures to be a run-heavy Buffalo offense.

Drafting Benjamin in the eighth round is not a problem. Drafting him earlier than that, however, would be foolish, given his injury history and his overall lack of production since his stellar rookie season. Combining that with the question marks Buffalo has at quarterback (with any of the three-headed monster of AJ McCarron, Nathan Peterman, and Josh Allen potentially seeing time this season) and the likelihood that Benjamin will face double teams all season due to a lack of talent around him, and drafting him as WR-39 even seems too high. For context, Marquise Goodwin is currently being drafted as WR-42, a full 10 spots after Benjamin, and he is coming off a far superior season on a team with a much better quarterback situation than the one Benjamin has in Buffalo.

Other risk-reward types

Tight end Charles Clay is currently going as TE-14. At that price, he has more boom potential than he does bust, but the players being taken immediately in front of him (Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, Tyler Eifert, and David Njouku) all have similar boom-bust potential...some may be tempted to draft Jeremy Kerley based on his name alone. Don’t. He’s only rostered right now in .5% of ESPN leagues. Later drafts will give fantasy managers time to see what Kerley’s role will be...Chris Ivory is currently outside the top-60 at his position, but he is the most frequently rostered undrafted running back (on 26.9% of ESPN rosters). If McCoy faces any discipline from the league, Ivory’s draft position will probably rise much further than his ability and probable production will dictate. Drafting him as anything more than a back-end handcuff will probably lead to regret.