Fantasy Alert: Bills WR Isaiah McKenzie Positioned to Start Year in Slot over Crowder

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 23, 2022

Isaiah McKenzie (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Isaiah McKenzie has the inside track to beat out Jamison Crowder for the Buffalo Bills' slot receiver role, which could make him a useful target in fantasy football drafts.

Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic reported Tuesday that McKenzie has been a "nightmare" to cover in man-to-man scenarios and his quickness fits perfectly with the Bills' desire to get more yards after the catch, which will "likely be a focus of the offense all season" in 2022.

McKenzie, a 2017 fifth-round pick, put his untapped potential on display in a Week 16 win over the New England Patriots last season. He finished the contest with 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Buffalo's offense features too many other playmakers around quarterback Josh Allen, led by fellow wideouts Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis, to post those numbers on a weekly basis, but it does provide a glimpse at his upside.

The 27-year-old Miami native has an average draft position of 131.3 in Yahoo Sports leagues, placing him around the late 10th round in 12-team formats.

It's hard to call him a bona fide steal at that ADP since there will be a fair share of weeks where Diggs, Davis and tight end Dawson Knox handle a lion's share of the targets. But there's value in drafting him late to play in certain matchups.

Adam Koffler @AdamKoffler

If the Bills never signed Jamison Crowder, Isaiah McKenzie would be viewed like Hunter Renfrow

If he starts as the slot receiver, though, that could take his fantasy value to a new level.

McKenzie talked about his development in that role in early August.

"That means I got to get open, you know, man-to-man coverage, zone, I got to be in the right position, in the right space," he told reporters. "And I feel like that's evolved. I'm getting open for him when he needs me open. I'm sitting in zone when he needs me to be there, and it's been awesome so far."

If McKenzie emerges as an every-week starter with a handful of consistent targets, he'll enter the flex conversation on a more consistent basis rather than being a pure matchup play.

Since the Bills should have one of the league's highest-scoring offenses in 2022, taking a late-round flier on a possible breakout year from "Lil Dirty" is a solid fantasy investment.


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