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What they're saying: Early 2017 predictions for the Bills


Buffalo Bills

Record: 10-6

Wins: Jets. Broncos, Bucs, Jets, Saints, Chargers, Patriots, Colts, Dolphins, Dolphins

Losses:Panthers, Falcons, Bengals, Raiders, Chiefs, Patriots

Spin: Buffalo has hovered around 8-8 the last couple years. Tyrod Taylor is good – not great – but good. At some point, you have to believe Sammy Watkins is going to stay healthy, and they have a strong defense.

Record prediction: 8-8

A new coach and fresh outlook following the Rex Ryan era might not be enough for the Bills to snap a 17-year postseason drought.

Buffalo faces the fifth-most difficult schedule in 2017, based on combined opponent winning percentage from 2016 (.561).

The slate includes each of the last four Super Bowl finalists and one primetime matchup: an early-November "Thursday Night Football" game against the Jets in the Meadowlands. Only the balance of the AFC West — Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders — have it worse, at least on paper.

No question it will be tough sledding for a team that again figures to finish somewhere in between the NFL's best and worst.

[ – Rushing title predictions](

In Buffalo's new offense, LeSean McCoy is poised to claim his second rushing crown. We haven't had a repeat winner in this category since NFL Network's own LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 2006 and 2007. So, keeping with that trend, I'll give my vote to LeSean McCoy. Shady will be the focal point of a Buffalo offense that is now being run by Rick Dennison, who did remarkable things as the offensive coordinator for Arian Foster back in Houston. 
When taking a stab at projecting the rushing leader, my thought process is to find a talented back in a solid offense who should see a high number of touches. McCoy checks all those boxes and has thrived in a brand new offense before: Shady led the league in rushing in 2013, his first year with Chip Kelly.

Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills: 62.1 completion percentage, 3,360 yards, 20 TDs, 8 INTs

Like Tannehill, it's difficult to feel confident about any projection for Tyrod Taylor. Over 29 starts for the Buffalo Bills, we've seen two vastly different quarterbacks. The guy we saw in 2015 who averaged 8.0 yards per attempt was terrific. But then that per-attempt average fell by over a full yard in 2016 to 6.9, and Taylor's indecisiveness in the pocket also contributed to 42 sacks.

If wide receiver Sammy Watkins can stay healthy, then the 2015 version of Taylor could return fast. …

3. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills: Let's face it ... Watkins is one of the biggest risk-reward wide receivers in fantasy football. While he's a serious talent at the position, his proneness to injuries has halted his rise to stardom in the fantasy world. But after the Bills declined his fifth-year option, Watkins is now in a contract year and has more motivation than ever to stay out of the trainer's room.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills

I admit that I might have put together this list while staring at the Tyrod Taylor action figure that adorns the center crossroads of the NFL Fantasy Stronghold. But that doesn't diminish what Taylor has accomplished on the field as Buffalo's starter for the past. Taylor has been a top 16 fantasy quarterback in each of the past two years while navigating around injuries to some of his top playmakers. His ability to protect the football (14 turnovers in 29 starts) and to create as a runner (leads all QBs in rush yards over the past two years) should make him a favorite of the late-QB-drafting crowd. Yet somehow, Taylor is coming off the board after players Eli Manning, Carson Wentz and Andy Dalton. It's mind-bottling.

Jonathan Williams, RB, Buffalo Bills (ADP 218/14.10)

There were a lot of morose mothers out there when that one guy signed with the New England Patriots in the offseason. Why can't I think of his ... Mike Gillislee. Good lord, I'm getting loopy when tyring to remember the Patriots depth chart. But in any event, fantasy enthusiasts and Rex Burkhead fans (including Koh, Evan Silva and me) were bummed. Williams wasn't. He assumes the No. 2 slot in a run-heavy offense with an RB1 who is 29 and has had trouble with his hamstrings. I wouldn't even call him a handcuff, because I project him to have a role with this team. He could be one of those sneaky flex dudes in certain matchups. I almost trust him a little more than Samuel right now, and I'm going to definitely target him in the later rounds.

WR Zay Jones

Three wide receivers were selected before Zay Jones in April's draft. All three of those prospects heard their names called within the first nine picks. Jones had to wait a little longer. The Buffalo Bills selected the East Carolina product with the 37th overall pick. 

Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross might be bigger names, but Jones landed in an ideal situation—even as a second-round pick—to develop into a top target. … The second-round pick is a natural receiver who can excel from the slot or working outside the numbers. He left East Carolina as the FBS all-time leader with 399 receptions. 

Even with Watkins on the roster, the rookie still has a chance to develop into Tyrod Taylor's favorite option.

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