Buffalo Bills Team Preview

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    Whatever tragic metaphor you want to use is probably applicable to the Bills over the last handful of seasons.  While they have failed to even reach the Super Bowl, it’s abundantly clear that they had have one of the best teams in football during the Josh Allen/Stefon Diggs era.  Now that era has died and a hopefully a more prosperous one will grow in its place.

    There is the old adage that a team will only go as far as the QB will take them.  In Josh Allen’s case, that could not be further from the truth.  He is the exception to the rule and the one constant as everything around the team seems to be in flux.  Over the past four seasons, the worst finish he has for fantasy is QB2 and while running QBs are constantly getting hurt and limping to the finish line, Allen remains as upright and dominant as ever.

    As a result of Allen’s stewardship the Bills have won at least 11 games three years in a row, but continually fail to be the last team standing.  Each season seems to end more cruelly than the one previous and it’s not shocking that the Bills’ brass elected to tear down the house in the off season.  Gone are Diggs and Gabe Davis from the offense end (152 combined receptions, 1929 yards) as well as Jordan Poyer and Tre’Davious White on the defensive end.  It’s impossible not to compare the style of moves with arch-rival Kanas City Chiefs who made the controversial decision to let Tyreek Hill two seasons ago and kept on chugging with b2b Super Bowl wins.  The Bills elected to replace their two starting WRs with a patchwork group including the 33rd pick Keon Coleman, while returning potential stud Khail Shakir (39 catches, 611 yards) and the newly inbound Curtis Samuel (62 catches, 613 yards).  If anyone can make it work, it’s Allen, but it’s going to be an uphill climb in the downfield passing game.

    Writer’s Season Win Prediction: 11-6

    Allen is the sole reason Buffalo fans remain optimistic every fall despite every piece of history telling them otherwise.  He’s played 17 games three years in a row and his reckless bravado instills those who support him with a sense of indefatigability.  If any team was ever due, it’s the Bills and honestly, this could finally be their year.  As great as Allen is in both real life and for fantasy, he’s hardly a one-man band.  The emergence of James Cook (RB12) as a legitimate workhorse running back gives the Bills a balance they have sorely lacked for years.  Cook blew up last year, racking up 1,122 rushing yards on 237 carries (4.73 YPC) and adding another 445 yards on 45 grabs out of the backfield.  The only thing missing from his resume are the TDs (two rushing and four receiving) and with Allen rushing for 15, there wasn’t much meat on the bone for Cook.  The 15 rushing TDs for Allen were more than double his previous season, so it’s safe to assume there will be some regression to the mean.  Everything looks poised to break right for Cook as he was great in yards before contact (2.7) and after contact (2.0) despite only eight broken tackles.  Cook has lightning speed and is great at navigating space which is evident by him finishing second in rushes (33) that gained at least 10 yards.  Everything is shaping up for another breakout season for Cook and all he needs to do to live up to the hype is steal some TDs from Allen in the red zone.

    While on the subject of players being denied TDs, it was rookie TE sensation Dalton Kincaid (TE 11) who went the first seven weeks of the season without finding pay dirt and who was then only was able to score twice on the season.  Kincaid is a monster lying in wait and still had a productive rookie season, finishing with 73 grabs for 673 yards.  The 91 targets Kincaid received was second on the Bills and with 241 now up for grabs, it’s a safe bet that Kincaid is going to be peppered this season.  If he emerges as Allen’s favorite weapon this season and starts getting downfield (7.3 air yards compared to 11.5 for Dawson Knox), he’s going to have a lot more than five receptions for 20+ yards.  Add in some more red zone targets (Kincaid had nine compared to 23 for Jake Ferguson) and the sky is the limit.  Yes, TE1 is within sights.

    It’s impossible to understate how dominant Allen has been for fantasy as has been responsible for moving the chains and putting points on the board.  This will be his first season without an elite WR and while he is an offense unto himself, there are likely going to be some growing pains.  The 18 INTs last season were a career-high and without a reliable go-to threat, it’s possible he comes close to replicating that number.  Whatever problems are in his way, expect Allen not to shuck responsibility and if he can’t around them, he has no problem going through them.


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