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Offseason Primers: Buffalo Bills

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Bills entered 2012 with a lot of optimism. They were active in free agency after spending big money on Mario Williams. Their offense looked in place with Ryan Fitzpatrick signed to a new contract and a strong backfield with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. And plenty of prognosticators picked them to finish second in the AFC East behind New England and challenge for a playoff spot.

Then came Week 1.

2012 Touches Leaders
953 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
C.J. Spiller 250 (207 car., 43 rec.) 26.2%
Fred Jackson 149 (115 car., 34 rec.) 15.6%
Steve Johnson 79 rec. 8.2%
Tashard Choice 51 (47 car., 4 rec.) 5.3%
Scott Chandler 43 rec. 4.5%
All Others 381 39.9%

Buffalo got hammered by the Jets 48-28 and everything went downhill from there. Jackson was injured again, Fitzpatrick struggled and Williams never lived up to his contract. The Bills limped to a 6-10 finish, and coach Chan Gailey was fired at the end of the season.

Doug Marrone was hired as the new coach, and again there's some optimism in Buffalo. The Fitzpatrick experiment is over now that he was released, and Kevin Kolb was signed to help turn things around. Spiller is expected to replace Jackson and become a star, and the Bills also need to find another receiver to play opposite Steve Johnson.

Fantasy owners might find just two starting options on the Bills in Spiller and Johnson, with Jackson as a key reserve if he's back in Buffalo. Scott Chandler is coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 16, and T.J. Graham has some sleeper appeal in deep leagues. But the Bills don't have a lot of offensive firepower coming into the season.

C.J. Spiller -- Breakout

2012 Target Leaders
511 pass attempts
Steve Johnson 148 28.9%
Scott Chandler 74 14.4%
Donald Jones 67 13.1%
T.J. Graham 58 11.3%
C.J. Spiller 57 11.1%
All Others 107 20.9%

Can we really call Spiller a breakout after he was the No. 7 running back in 2012? Yes. Spiller had just 207 carries and 43 catches last year with only nine starts. He's scheduled for a bigger role, especially if Jackson is released. But Spiller averaged 6.0 yards per carry and 10.7 yards per catch. If he gets close to 300 total touches -- all six running backs in front of him in Fantasy points (Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris and Ray Rice) all had more than 300 touches -- then he could be the No. 1 Fantasy running back in 2013. Rice, by comparison, had the fewest carries of the guys in the Top 6 with 257. Give Spiller those 50 carries at his rushing average, and he comes away with 300 more yards, which equals 30 more Fantasy points. That would bump him from 211 points to 241 and put him ahead of Morris at No. 5. As you can see, he's not that far away, so we hope he gets the increased workload. Spiller is worth drafting as early as No. 4 overall behind Peterson, Foster and Lynch.

Ryan Fitzpatrick -- Player on the move

The Bills decided to part ways with Fitzpatrick and start fresh at quarterback. Kolb or Tarvaris Jackson could earn the starting job, but the Bills are expected to also draft a new quarterback this season. Fitzpatrick signed with Tennessee, and he will be the No. 2 quarterback to Jake Locker. It's almost a guarnantee that Fitzpatrick's days as being Fantasy relevant are over, even with Locker's injury history. Fitzpatrick also proved to be an inconsistent Fantasy quarterback at best with consecutive years with 20-plus turnovers. Maybe he would improve with an upgraded receiving corps, but we don't expect to see Fitzpatrick on many Fantasy rosters going forward.

Steve Johnson -- Coaching impact

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Kevin Kolb Undrafted
Tarvaris Jackson Undrafted
C.J. Spiller 4-10 overall
Fred Jackson 70-80 overall
Steve Johnson 68-75 overall
Scott Chandler Undrafted

Johnson has been an underrated Fantasy receiver the past three years. Over that span he has at least 76 catches, 1,004 yards and six touchdowns in each year. He's done all that despite a commitment to the running game and poor quarterback play. We'll see what happens with Kolb or Jackson, but the new coaching staff in Buffalo is already talking about moving Johnson around. He'll see time in the slot, which could help him increase his catch total. Johnson definitely has the potential to be around 90 catches, 1,200 yards receiving and double digits in touchdowns, but the Bills need to focus on him more. Until that happens, even with the move to the slot, he remains a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with upside and should be drafted with a mid-round pick.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Bears sign two players, release three
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:02 pm ET) The Bears announced Tuesday they promoted defensive back Isaiah Frey and wide receiver Rashad Ross from the practice squad. The team also released running back Shaun Draughn, wide receiver Chris Williams and tight end Matthew Mulligan.

Jake Matthews practices in full Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:58 pm ET) Falcons offensive lineman Jake Matthews, who sat out Week 2 due to an ankle injury, practiced in full Tuesday. Matthews is hoping to be in the lineup Thursday against the Bucs.

"It was great to have Jake back out to practice today," coach Mike Smith said, per ESPN. "It was good to get him back into the starting lineup. We're pleased with the progress that he's made with the athletic guys in terms of what they've been doing with him. And we've been able to basically go through a full practice with him today."

Still, Smith isn't ready to clear Matthews to make his return to the lineup just yet.

"Anything can happen, but we were really pleased with what he was able to do last night and in practice today,'' Smith said.


Falcons resting Roddy White because of quick turnaround
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:53 pm ET) Even though Falcons wide receiver Roddy White was absent from Tuesday's practice due to a hamstring injury, coach Mike Smith seemed more concerned about resting White for the short turnaround for Thursday's game against the Bucs than the injury.

"It's not important for Roddy to practice,'' Smith said, per ESPN. "We'd like for Roddy to practice, but it's all about getting Roddy ready on a short week. And some of these guys across the league that have some age with them, on a short week, you've got to get them to Thursday. And that's our intention. 

"Right now, our goal is to have Roddy as healthy as he can be for the ball game on Thursday night.''


Josh McCown frustrated with 0-2 start
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:49 pm ET) Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown didn't hide his frustration Tuesday when talking about Tampa Bay's 0-2 start. 

"It’s awfully frustrating," McCown said Tuesday, per ESPN. "I’m not going to shy away from that. I’m very disappointed. I’m disappointed in myself and just this start. It’s not what anybody wants."

McCown has completed 67.9 percent of his passes, but he has just 362 passing yards and has more interceptions (three) than passing touchdowns (two). He also has quarterback rating of 75.1.

"At the end of the day, you hear about quarterbacks being measured by wins and we’re 0-2," McCown said. "For me, that’s how I evaluate it. I say, 'What could I have done better to help us win the ballgame?’ In both games, I really felt like I did a lot of good things except the three turnovers in those games. Those have been critical."


Report: Lions work out three kickers Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET) The Lions, who are thinking about replacing rookie kicker Nate Freese, worked out kickers Rob Bironas, Alex Henery and Garrett Hartley on Tuesday, a source told ESPN. Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Monday the team would consider a change at kicker after Freese has missed three field goals through two games.

Titans coach surprised by Delanie Walker's speed
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:19 pm ET) When Titans tight end Delanie Walker outran four Cowboys on his 61-yard touchdown reception Sunday, Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt was surprised and impressed by Walker's speed.

"Delanie had more speed than I thought he did on that long run," Whisenhunt told ESPN.com.

Walker caught 10 balls for 142 yards in the loss. It was the first 100-yard game of his career.


Bengals make moves Tuesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:03 pm ET) The Bengals placed tight end Alex Smith (biceps) on injured reserve, released tight end Ryan Otten and signed offensive lineman Emmett Cleary to the practice squad.

Colts tweak roster
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:59 pm ET) The Colts waived running back Dion Lewis and signed defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles off the Patriots' practice squad. Indianapolis also signed guard David Arkin to its practice squad while releasing guard Josh Walker from the squad.

Bengals bring back Kevin Brock
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:56 pm ET) The Bengals signed tight end Kevin Brock, who was cut by the team late last month, reports the National Football Post.

No setbacks for Alshon Jeffery
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:53 pm ET) Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery did not suffer any setbacks with his hamstring injury in Sunday night's win in San Francisco, reports the Chicago Tribune. Coach Marc Trestman said he knows Jeffery played at less than 100 percent but expects the third-year pro to benefit from an added day of rest before Monday night's game at the Jets.

 
 
 
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