The best part about a new season in the NFL is the new dreams by each team’s fans. Buffalo hasn’t made it to the playoffs since 1999 and only has one winning season in their last 14 years (2004: 9-7). This year, they made an exciting splash in the 2014 draft by trading up to acquire top wide receiver prospect Sammy Watkins. The Bills gave up the ninth pick in this year’s draft, plus their first-round pick and fourth round pick in 2015. It was a huge price to pay, but the ownership in Buffalo will probably change in the near future after Ralph Wilson passed away in March. His death created a short window for the current management and coaching staff to have success. The Bills should be sold in the near future and Buffalo could be at risk of losing their franchise to another city.
E.J. Manuel - Manuel gave Buffalo fans hope at the quarterback position. He went 4-6 as a starter while passing for 1,972 yards with 11 TD’s and 9 INT’s. He played his best ball in the first two games of the season when he picked off Carolina with a game-winning TD to Stevie Johnson with 2 seconds left on the clock in Week two. He also played a very competitive game in Week one against the Patriots when he completed 66.7% of his passes for 150 yards and a pair of TD’s. After playing well in his first two games at home, Manual really struggled with his completion rate (50.4%) in his next four games (3 on the road). He suffered an LCL injury in his right knee in Week five, which cost him four games of the season. E.J. returned in Week 10 before going down again in Week 15. Manuel injured his left knee, which required minor offseason surgery. He was a full participant in April offseason workouts. This season, the Bills will have a change in their offensive profile with the addition of Sammy Watkins. This gives E.J. a pure playmaker with explosive upside. He will also have the services of developing #2 WR Robert Woods and trouble stricken Mike Williams. Overall, the Bills chance for success will be driven by a ball control offense that will have big play ability. Manuel has talent, but he needs to prove he can stay healthy. His upside is limited from a fantasy perspective due to overall style of play. I expect him to finish below the league average in passing yards and TD’s. At best, he will be a bye week fill.
C.J. Spiller - 2013 was a tough year for Spiller. He suffered a high ankle sprain early in the season, which limited his explosiveness in many weeks. The injury only cost him one week of the year (Week 8), but he finished the year with seven games with less than 60 yards rushing. His inability to make sharp cuts also hurt his production in the passing game in weeks three through five (1 catch for 1 yard). C.J. finished last year with a respectable 4.6 yards per carry, but it was almost 1.5 yards less than 2012. He ended the year with 235 touches, which was only 15 less than the previous season. Many fantasy owners expected him to have a huge jump in production after his breakout 2012 season. The bottom line with Spiller in 2013 was his injury. He was only on the field for 394 plays compared to 676 by Fred Jackson. He has tremendous upside, but last year just proved he doesn’t have the skill set to be in elite #1 fantasy back. His value at the goal line is limited and he doesn’t have a clear path to more touches with Fred Jackson still on the roster. Even with Jackson entering the 2014 season at age 33, Buffalo brought in Bryce Brown as another player to steal snaps from Spiller. In a perfect world, a fantasy player would like C.J. to get 250 carries for the season with 50 catches. His talent has high upside, so he has to be respected at the draft table. Buffalo made an effort to improve their offensive line and they added a big play WR. Spiller has 2000 yard upside if he was ever given the opportunity for full-time snaps. In his career, he has only started 31 of 61 games.
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