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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
Report: Torn pectoral sidelines Vikings CB Josh Robinson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) The Vikings secondary took a hit last month when cornerback Josh Robinson sustained a partially torn pectoral muscle, a league source has told ESPN.

The nickel back played in 690 snaps last season and was expected to battle several others for playing time. The injury could sideline him from training camp and land him on the PUP list.


Report: Packers' Andrew Quarless arrested on gun charges
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested for firing a gun twice in Miami on Saturday, per the Miami New Times.

Quarless was involved in a fight at South Beach and fired the gun into the ground. 


Titans receivers can thrive in YAC with Marcus Mariota's accuracy
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) The Titans wide receiving corps could gain more yards after the catch this season because of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and his accurate throws, per ESPN.com.

The Titans were 24th in the league in yards after the catch last season, but with Mariota under center that can all change.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” wide receiver Harry Douglas said. “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic -- first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”


Saints RB Khiry Robinson doesn't feel he's on outside looking in
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) Saints running back Khiry Robinson might be the least known of his backfield counterparts, but he doesn't feel like the off man out, per ESPN.com.

Robinson knows the team is heavily invested in the likes of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, but he's still confident he can thrive in whatever role the Saints put him in.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said.

Robinson has shown flashes of success during his three years in the league. Injuries played a key role against him last season, which can ultimately put him as the third back on the depth chart. He will use the offseason to continue to improve and challenge his counterparts for playing time.

“I just gotta keep working,” Robinson. “It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”


Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

Bowie participated fully in the offseason program, working mostly with the second team at right tackle. That will likely be the spot at which he competes for a starting job. Incumbent Mitchell Schwartz has not performed particularly well there and Mike Pettine has vowed there will be competition all over the field in camp.


Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan nearly recovered from knee surgery
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan appears to be on target to join the team for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that prevented him from participating in earlier offseason activities.

Kerrigan, who registered a career-high 13 1/2 sacks a year ago, had the operation to alleviate pain in the area.

"My leg feels really good and I'm glad I got the surgery - not just for football but it makes my everyday life feel better so I'm glad I got it done," he told CSN Washington. "Now it's just a matter of getting stronger and getting into shape."

Kerrigan added that he's been running and now only needs to regain strength to insure his place at training camp.


Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended four games for 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

McClain hasn't been able to participate much in offseason workouts due to going under offseason knee surgery. McClain will be eligible to practice in training camp and is expected to be healthy by then. 

"I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error," McClain said in a statement, via CSN Bay Area. "I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.

In 2014, McClain, who had previously retired twice before being traded from the Ravens to the Cowboys, totaled 81 tackles and a sack in 13 games played.


 
 
 
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