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2010 Fantasy outlooks: Buffalo Bills

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Bills might have the worst offense in the NFL. Honestly, it's hard to find many positives.

Heading into training camp, they have no starting quarterback, only one starting wide receiver and arguably the worst offensive line in the league. Buffalo is loaded at running back with Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller and Marshawn Lynch, but all three guys have to share the ball. It's a mess -- even for someone as creative as new head coach Chan Gailey.

We've even suggested Buffalo should just have fun on offense this year and run the triple option. Forget about the quarterback and line up Jackson, Spiller and Lynch in the backfield at the same time. At least that would be entertaining.

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What is likely to happen is Buffalo will go with Trent Edwards as the starting quarterback ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm. Lee Evans returns as the No. 1 option in the passing game with the Terrell Owens experiment over (think Buffalo wants that key to the city back?). But this offense will rely on the run -- if the offensive line can open some holes.

We rank the running backs in this order: Jackson, Spiller and Lynch, but none are standout Fantasy options. Barring an injury or Lynch being traded, all three are going to split time and ruin the potential of one having a solid Fantasy year like Jackson did in 2009 when he had more than 1,400 total yards and four touchdowns.

Evans is also worth drafting in all Fantasy leagues, but it ends there for the Bills. This is going to be a tough offense to watch all year.

Late-round flier ... Marshawn Lynch, RB

There's a good chance Lynch could be traded before the start of the season, and it's clear the Bills are headed in a different direction after drafting Spiller in the first round of the NFL Draft. But fickle Fantasy owners forget that once upon a time Lynch was a star. In his first two years in the NFL in 2007-08, Lynch had 2,635 total yards and 16 touchdowns. Off-field troubles put him in the doghouse for the Bills, and the emergence of Jackson and presence of Spiller put Lynch at No. 3 on the depth chart this year.

But you should still spend a late-round pick on Lynch on Draft Day. Spiller is going to be used in a variety of roles, and Jackson is not your typical every-down running back based on his work on special teams. That could leave Lynch getting more touches than you think each week, and he'll be motivated to prove he's still a quality running back. We're not saying Lynch is going to turn into anything special, but don't be surprised if he becomes a good option for a week or two during the season. Depending on how deep your Fantasy roster is, it's a good idea to stash Lynch if you can afford him with a late-round selection.

Fantasy value chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Trent Edwards
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Brian Brohm
Running Backs
Fred Jackson
C.J. Spiller
Marshawn Lynch
Wide Receivers
Lee Evans
James Hardy
Marcus Easley
Steve Johnson
Roscoe Parrish
Tight Ends
Shawn Nelson
Kicker/DST
Rian Lindell
Bills DST

Bounce-back candidate ... Lee Evans, WR

Evans did about what you expected from him in 2009 after the Bills brought in Owens to be the No. 1 target. Evans finished with career lows in catches (44) and yards (612) even though he scored seven touchdowns. But he will be better this year. In the first five years of his career, Evans averaged 59 catches for 949 yards and six touchdowns. He's capable of those stats now that he's the No. 1 option again in the passing game.

There are definite concerns about Evans: no starting quarterback, bad offensive line, no help in the receiving corps and playing for a running team. But you're not taking Evans with a high draft pick in any Fantasy leagues. And Evans has always played with limited talent around him and still performed well. You can get Evans with a late-round pick as your No. 4 or 5 Fantasy receiver. And by the end of the season, if he reaches his career averages as expected, he'll be a useful No. 3 option or better depending on the size of your league.

Bust ... C.J. Spiller, RB

Spiller has the talent to be considered the next Reggie Bush or even Chris Johnson based on his ability and speed -- he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and was a do-it-all threat at Clemson. But this isn't the year to reach for him with a high draft pick. Spiller will likely see the ball about 15 times a game as a running back, receiver and Wildcat quarterback. He'll be the second running back on the field behind Jackson, and Jackson should be considered the better Fantasy option. Lynch remains a part of the backfield rotation, and that will also hurt Spiller's Fantasy value unless Lynch is traded. And this offensive line is brutal, so Spiller will have to outrun defenders if he wants to make plays.

We love Spiller's upside -- he's a lock with a first-round pick in rookie-only leagues -- but we don't see him making a huge impact as a rookie. When ranking the rookie running backs, consider Ryan Mathews, Ben Tate, Jahvid Best and Montario Hardesty as better Fantasy options this year. Let Spiller fall to you on Draft Day with a mid-round selection and take him as a reserve. If you're counting on him to be a starter then your Fantasy team will be in trouble.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
MIA @GB @NE NYJ JAC bye @BAL @KC vCHI DET @CIN PIT @MIN CLE @MIA NE @NYJ

The Bills are a running team, and they will open the season against some of the tougher run defenses this year with games against Green Bay, New England and the Jets in the first four weeks. The Bills do have some favorable matchups for Jackson, Spiller and Lynch, but you're only talking about Week 5 against Jacksonville, Week 8 at Kansas City, Week 10 against Detroit and Week 14 against Cleveland. It's doubtful you'll start any of the Bills when they face the Ravens, Steelers, Vikings and Jets.

Training camp topics

2009 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Fred Jackson 283
Marshawn Lynch 148
Terrell Owens 55
Lee Evans 44
Josh Reed 27

The biggest key for the Bills during training camp is finding a starting quarterback. Edwards, Fitzpatrick and Brohm will compete for the job, and we expect Edwards to start based on his experience and talent. But none of these quarterbacks have much Fantasy value. You can pass on Buffalo's passer in the majority of Fantasy leagues.

Fantasy owners should also keep an eye out for who ends up starting opposite Evans at the No. 2 receiver spot. James Hardy, Steve Johnson and rookie Marcus Easley are competing for the job, and we expect them to share the role with Easley having the most upside. Again, this is a position Fantasy owners can ignore in most leagues since Evans is the only Bills receiver worth drafting.

We'll also find out how the running back rotation will work, but you can look for Jackson to start, Lynch to be the primary backup and Spiller to be used in a variety of ways. On Draft Day, take Jackson, Spiller and then Lynch in all seasonal formats.

Injury update

Jairus Byrd (hip, probable for the start of training camp) ... Terrence McGee (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Kawika Mitchell (knee; probable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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