5 Buffalo Bills Every Fantasy Football Owner Should Keep an Eye on
With July and training camps just around the corner, it's never too early for fantasy football, and finding those secrets at each position are crucial.
It's been a while since any Buffalo Bills players were worthy of a high fantasy draft pick, let alone a selection at all. However, this season things have changed, and there are five Bills worthy of your consideration come draft day.
All fantasy point totals are based on ESPN.com's standard scoring system.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
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Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick got off to a hot start in his 2011 campaign, tossing 14 touchdowns to just six interceptions for 1,736 yards in his first six games of the year.
After suffering the injury, Fitzpatrick threw just 10 touchdowns to an unimpressive 16 interceptions in the remaining nine games.
Fitzpatrick finished the season completing 62 percent of his passes, while throwing for 3,832 yards, 24 touchdowns and a league-leading 23 interceptions.
This offseason, he has been working on his throwing mechanics with quarterback coach, David Lee. Fitzpatrick has realized his shortcomings in his footwork, telling BuffaloBills.com:
He’s all about the lower half...The footwork, making sure you’re not getting your feet in the way of your hips when you’re throwing the ball. That’s something we’ve worked on a lot because I have an issue with balls I’m throwing to my left, just making sure everything is open so I’m not closing my hips off and can’t fire with balls dying. There are a lot of things that we have been looking at after he made a bunch of clips from last year of specific throws that I’ve struggled with.
With his injury healed and an offseason to further improve his mechanics, Fitzpatrick could be a late sleeper with high potential to improve from the 207 fantasy points he scored last year.
RB Fred Jackson
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Jackson was a beast in the backfield, gaining 934 yards for an average of 5.5 yards per carry, finding the end zone five times. He also added 442 yards on 39 receptions, both out of the backfield and lined up at wide receiver.
In 10 games, Jackson earned himself 162 fantasy points, and is now healthy, according to head coach Chan Gailey (via BuffaloBills.com).
RB C.J. Spiller
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When Fred Jackson went down with his right leg injury last season, former No. 9 overall draft pick C.J. Spiller stepped in, and the Bills' rushing attack didn't skip a beat.
The former Clemson star earned himself 108 fantasy points in the last six games of the year gaining 561 yards on the ground and averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He also found the end zone four times. Like Jackson, he was a threat in the passing game, recording 39 receptions for 269 yards and another two touchdowns.
While he will be splitting carries with Jackson, that won't stop the speedster from making an impact this year:
[Spiller's] confidence level just went through the roof in my opinion. He knows what to do a lot better now," Gailey recently told reporters. "He has a lot of confidence that he can play running back, he can go out and play receiver, he can do a lot of things and blocking. He’s gotten better at his blocking from the previous year. His ball security was a lot better last year. He carried it multiple times and did a good job of controlling the ball. Just his overall confidence level I think is very good this year.
Even though the duo will be splitting carries, both could be on the field at the same time as receivers and running backs, thus improving their chances for increased touches.
WR Stevie Johnson
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Stevie Johnson is now a reliable No. 2 option at wide receiver for your fantasy football team after gaining 1,000 receiving yards in consecutive years for the first time in the franchise's storied history.
Last year, Johnson caught 76 balls on 135 targets, gaining 1,004 yards and scoring seven touchdowns. In the previous season, he caught 82 passes on 143 targets for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Entering his third season, Johnson and Fitzpatrick have grown to be a dynamic duo in the Bills' passing game, and that trend shouldn't change at all this year.
WR David Nelson
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Buffalo Bills slot wide receiver, David Nelson, could be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on late in your fantasy football drafts.
An undrafted free agent out of the University of Florida in 2011, Nelson made 31 catches for 353 yards and three scores in his rookie season.
Last year, he was relegated to the slot position, nearly doubling his rookie statistics catching 61 passes for 658 yards. He also found the end zone five times, earning 90 fantasy points. With the significant question marks at the No. 2 outside receiver position on the Bills' roster, Nelson should see great improvement in his targets throughout the 2012 season.