Welcome to the Fantasy Football Cafe’s Preseason Series! Every single day for the next 32 days we’ll be focusing on a different NFL team and their fantasy impact, position by position. So sit back and enjoy the ride. Enjoy the smell of football on the horizon, enjoy the lure of fantasy football once again as we near August training camps and preseason games will begin across the country. A word of warning is in order though, this preseason series isn’t for the faint of heart, we’ll be diving so deep into each and every team for the 2009 season you could potentially experience information overload! Proceed with caution.
There’s something about Dick Jauron and finishing seasons 7-9 lately. Since he’s been brought into Buffalo as their head coach, he’s finished 7-9 in each of his three seasons so far. The record last season seems much worse when you consider the Bills started out 5-1, which began to lead to some high hopes in Buffalo. But sadly they only were able to win two of their final 10 games. The Bills decided to make a few major changes going into 2009 as they hope to make a playoff push. It’s going to be difficult playing in the AFC East, with a Miami team coming off a fairly strong season and a New England Patriots team getting back their megastar Tom Brady. The Bills will have their work cut out for them.
QB: Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB: Marshawn Lynch, Dominic Rhodes, Fred Jackson
WR: Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish
TE: Shawn Nelson, Derek Fine, Derek Schouman
PK: Rian Lindell
Quarterback: With J.P Losman heading to the UFL for 2009, the Bills officially handed the reigns over to Trent Edwards. Drafted in the third round in 2007, he was to be the Bills QB of the future, and the future is now. But we haven’t seen spectacular play out of Edwards to this point. We’ve seen many solid games and we’ve seen disaster games in his previous two seasons of play. He has the potential to become a solid QB in the league — he just needs to become a more comfortable pocket passer. Consider Edwards a good #2 QB going into 2009. There are questions with the Bills offensive line, as some of their starters from 2008 left. New O-Line groups usually take some time to gel, so that’ll be a big thing to watch. QBs with weak O-Lines tend to fail more often than succeed. (Just ask David Carr a few years ago what it was like playing in Houston.) The QB situation in Buffalo has potential, but you should definitely draft Trent Edwards only as a backup QB for a fantasy roster to start the season.
Running Back: Marshawn Lynch has been a very solid fantasy producer in the past couple seasons, and nothing should change this year. One major thing to keep in mind with Lynch though is the three-game suspension he received from the NFL over a weapons misdemeanor in April. He has appealed this suspension and it could possibly be reduced to two games, but as of right now, it does not look like it will be overturned. The Bills brought in former Indianapolis RB Dominic Rhodes to fill in for Lynch in the first two/three weeks of the season. Rhodes will most likely split reps with Fred Jackson as well during this time. Lynch should still have a good chance at another 1,000+ yard season even with sitting out the first few weeks. He will be a solid RB for your fantasy squad. Look to draft Lynch somewhere in the third round or so in your standard fantasy league, with expectations of him being a solid #2 RB once he begins playing after Week 3.
Wide Receiver: Terrell Owens is the big new addition here. He’s not as young as he used to be, but he should still be expecting to post good numbers like usual. He should also help improve things for fellow WRs Lee Evans, Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish. Evans was being double-teamed so much last season for the Bills because they didn’t have many big threats other than him, and it ended up really hurting Evans and the Bills overall in their passing game. A big wild card in WR production will be Trent Edwards’ play. If he can improve as a QB and play smart, every WR’s value will improve in Buffalo. If he doesn’t, things will not look as good. Another big factor to keep in mind with all Bills is they play in upstate New York — this almost always guarantees wild weather in the winter time, and just when your fantasy playoffs are kicking into gear, the blizzards seem to descend upon Orchard Park. Consider TO around #15 in the preseason WR rankings, a top notch #2 WR going into 2009 with definite possibility to remain a solid #1. Consider Lee Evans a solid #2 WR and Josh Redd and Roscoe Parrish mediocre #3s.
Tight End: Don’t play a tight end from Buffalo this season. Just please don’t, at least not going into the season. It’ll take some time to see if Shawn Nelson, who was drafted in the fourth round, will start producing worthwhile fantasy numbers. He was drafted to replace the hole created by the departure of Robert Royal, but Nelson is still a rookie and will take some time getting used to playing in the NFL. Buffalo will be using their TEs to run block and not catch passes, and that’ll mean the TEs won’t be worth much of anything fantasy-wise. There’s not even a clear cut starter going into training camp. Nelson is the favorite to start, but there are a couple other guys there as well. Derek Fine as the starting tight end doesn’t really sit too fine with me. You would seriously be better served with most teams #2 TEs than any of Buffalo TEs right now.
Defense and IDP: The Buffalo defense looks to be about average in 2009. They have some quality players, but playing in a division where they have to face New England, Miami and the Jets twice a season is going to be challenging. All three of those teams should have a strong offense this year, so the Bills defense will have their work cut out for them. You should rank the Bills defense around the middle of the pack going into the season, a solid bye-week replacement with possibility of becoming something better. Improve their position a couple spots if you play a D/ST, as Rosco Parrish will be returning punts and he didn’t do that bad last year with a punt return for a TD and plenty of yardage. On an IDP level, one guy to take a look at is Terrence McGee. He showed promise last year playing CB for the Bills, and should have plenty of INT opportunities in 2009.
In conclusion, the Bills are a team with promise going into 2009. Lynch, TO, Evans, and Edwards should all be owned in every fantasy league, with Josh Reed and Parrish solid backup WRs. The TEs are sketchy at best this year, and the defense has some promising players but plays in a really tough division. With good play, the Bills should contend in their games, and that should translate to decent fantasy production from these offensive stars. Good luck drafting Bills this year!
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