When you think of the Buffalo Bills, the fact that they are an 0-7, nearly-bankrupt team located in perhaps the worst climate in the United States and on the verge of moving to Canada (they won't find any better weather there, though) first comes to mind.
Does the phrase "Fantasy Football hotbed" come to mind? Let's hope not.
But as the NFL season grows more intense by each passing week and fantasy football leagues around the country inch closer and closer to the playoffs, two Buffalo wide receivers could soon become the benchwarmers that will change your team forever.
Their names are Lee Evans, who's owned in 62 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues this fall, and Steve Johnson, who is owned in 78 percent of leagues. As those facts prove, it's relatively unlikely, although definitely a possibility, that you'll be able to pick them up off of the free agent list at the moment.
However, they are probably not in many team's starting lineups this week, although they've both been decent options so far; Johnson is the 13th-ranked receiver with 76 points while Evans is the 33rd with 58 points.
In fact, speaking of being decent, they've actually been pretty good, overcoming constantly underperforming quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and proving the Bills' 26th-ranked passing offense is not very reflective of their fantasy value.
Johnson leads the team with 406 yards and six touchdowns, the latter stat ranking him fourth in the AFC. He's had at least nine points for five straight games and hit double-digits three times during that span. Meanwhile, Evans has just 342 yards and four touchdowns, but topped 14 twice in the past three games and exploded for over 28 in one of them.
But it's the outlook ahead for these future stars that makes them so inviting.
Buffalo's upcoming schedule, from the upcoming Week 9 through Week 14, is packed with bad opponents that, in most cases, have terrible pass defenses. That stretch of their schedule also happens to be the most important stretch in fantasy football: right before the playoffs.
The Bills schedule for those weeks is as follows:
Week 9 - Chicago Bears (home)
Week 10 - Detroit Lions (home)
Week 11 - Cincinnati Bengals (away)
Week 12 - Pittsburgh Steelers (home)
Week 13 - Minnesota Vikings (away)
Week 14 - Cleveland Browns (home)
Of those six teams, four of them currently sport miserable 2-5 records and four of the six games are in Buffalo. An even more encouraging sign is the ranks of each of those team's pass defense: out of 32 NFL defenses, they 're ranked 15th, 19th, 20th, 25th, 14th, and 26th, respectively.
As you can see, the highest ranked pass defense Buffalo will face is 14th, right around the middle of the pack. Although the Pittsburgh defense has the fewest points scored against them so far, they are actually a surprising 25th against the pass.
But the Steelers aren't even the worst pass defense the Bills will face during the next six weeks, as the 26th-ranked pass defense of Cleveland will come into Ralph Wilson Stadium in Week 14. Evans and Johnson will also go up against the 19th-best passing defense, Detroit, and the 20th, Cincinnati, in back-to-back weeks.
Another good sign for the on-the-rise fantasy value of these two receivers is the fact that their once-shaky quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, has improved greatly lately. Over his past three games, he's reached or exceeded 220 yards every time and has eight touchdowns over that span, too.
Those statistics are also earning him respect from the coaching staff, since he's been allowed to throw the ball more and more, as his attempts have risen from 27 to 30 to 43 to 48 over his last four appearances.
With all of these attractive trends in their favor, it seems likely that, while Lee Evans and Steve Johnson may be on your fantasy bench for the moment, they might not be staying there for long. If they're available in any way, you probably want to get your hands on these two blossoming fantasy gamebreakers right away.
Otherwise, you may be forced to regretfully watch your opponent pile up the points in the "big game" as the most unlikely of duos, made up of Evans and Johnson, single-handedly crush your playoff chances.
If you don't have enough confidence to go after this duo, then perhaps you might already be holding on to a more proven duo of running backs that could get even better over the next five weeks.