Who Wears the Crown: Identifying the Bills' Best Player at the Midseason Mark
"It's good to be king, if just for a while..."
A countdown of the top five players on the roster will follow, along with analysis as to why each player is so valuable to the franchise.
Which player on the Bills is currently wearing the crown? Read on to find out!
#5: Stevie Johnson
The Buffalo Bills charismatic wide receiver comes in as the fifth best player midway through the team's 2012 season.
Stevie Johnson, coming off of back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, started the year slowly.
Through seven games, Johnson has 32 receptions, 387 yards receiving, and four touchdowns. He is ranked first on the team in receptions and yards. He is also tied for first in touchdowns with tight end Scott Chandler.
While Johnson's stats don't jump off of the page, his production is improving. In his last three games against San Francisco, Arizona, and Tennessee, Johnson pulled in 17 receptions for 192 yards and one touchdown.
Johnson still needs to improve his current pace if he wants to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving in three consecutive seasons. That said, Johnson has done a good job considering the fact that his quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, has been erratic for much of the season.
#4: Kyle Williams
In 2011, the Buffalo Bills selected Marcell Dareus with the third overall pick in the NFL draft.
In 2012, the Bills shelled out almost $120 million to Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.
Yet, none of the above players have played well consistently for the Buffalo Bills.
The only player on the expensive defensive line who is performing up to his ability is Kyle Williams. The former fifth round pick in the 2006 NFL draft out of LSU is having a great season for Buffalo.
On the season, Kyle Williams leads the Bills with 4.5 sacks. Among defensive tackles, this ranks second in the NFL behind Cincinnati's Geno Atkins.
Williams also has 23 total tackles; 14 solo tackles and 9 assists. Six of Williams' tackles have resulted in a loss of yards.
While the Buffalo Bills defense has been extremely disappointing, the play of Williams cannot be questioned.
#3: Andy Levitre
The third most valuable player on the Bills is Andy Levitre.
In May of 2012, Pro Football Focus listed Levitre as their secret superstar and had this to say:
"Levitre’s ability in pass protection at both guard and tackle cannot be questioned. Over the last two seasons whether you look at our grades (+15.1) or the stats (35 total pressures allowed), he is amongst the elite pass protectors at guard. Combined with clear improvements in his in-line run blocking, and his consistent quality blocking in space, Levitre is ready to use the 2012 season to break into the NFL’s upper echelon of guards." --Pro Football Focus
The outstanding left guard is currently in a contract year and is doing his part to show his value.
Through seven games, Levitre has only given up one-half of a sack according to Pro Football Weekly. In addition, he's only been called for two penalties, one false start and one holding penalty.
Resigning Andy Levitre needs to be near the top of Buffalo's list of priorities. I'd call Levitre a top priority, but there is one player the Bills need to resign first. In fact, the Bills top impending free agent comes in at number two on the Bills list of best players.
#2: Jairus Byrd
Jairus Byrd is appropriately named. The Bills free safety is known for his ball-hawking ways, and he is having the second best season on the Bills roster.
Byrd has three interceptions on the season, second in the NFL among free safeties. Only Atlanta's Thomas DeCoud has more with four interceptions.
Through seven games, Byrd has accounted for three forced fumbles. This ranks first in free safeties and ties him for first among all defensive backs with Chicago's Charles Tillman.
He also has 37 tackles on the year, 24 solo tackles and 13 assists. Byrd also has six passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
Buffalo lacks talent in many areas, so it's important that they keep players who have shown that they belong in this league. Byrd certainly fits the pun-intended "Bill," so Buffalo needs to find a way to keep Byrd on their team for many years to come.
#1 C.J. Spiller
The top player on the Buffalo Bills should not come as a surprise. C.J. Spiller has been outstanding and he truly deserves the crown.
Through seven weeks, Spiller is ninth in the NFL in rushing. He has run for 523 yards on 72 carries. This averages out to 7.3 yards per carry, first in the NFL among running backs.
Spiller has six carries of at least twenty-yards, second in the NFL, only behind Adrian Peterson. The former Clemson running back has rushed for four touchdowns on the season.
Spiller isn't only a weapon on the ground though. He is also a threat as a receiver. On the year, Spiller has recorded 19 receptions for 173 yards and one touchdown. Four of Spiller's receptions have gone for twenty-yards or more.
It's become apparent that anytime Spiller touches the ball, he has the ability to score a touchdown. Weapons like Spiller are few and far between in the NFL and he alone has the ability to keep the Bills in any game.
For all of these reasons, Spiller is the top Buffalo Bill halfway through the 2012 season.