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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
Dolphins claim wide receiver Cobi Hamilton; waive Kai De La Cruz
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) The Dolphins claimed wide receiver Cobi Hamilton off waivers Saturday, the team announced. Hamilton was recently released by the Bengals. He has never appeared in an NFL game.

To make room for Hamilton, the team waived wide receiver Kai De La Cruz.


Panthers DT Kawann Short dealing with back issue
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:34 pm ET) Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short missed Saturday's practice with a back injury, reports The Charlotte Observer. The severity of the injury is not known.

In 2014, Short produced 3 1/2 sacks and 40 tackles in 16 games.


Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall takes day off Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:10 pm ET) After participating in the first two days of training camp, the Redskins held cornerback DeAngelo Hall out of Saturday's full-pad practice as a precaution, reports the New York Times.

Hall is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and the plan is for him to practice for two days then take a day off.

"Not being in football in 10 months, I'm going to need some monitoring, as far as reps and things like that, just to make sure I don't kill myself in the first two weeks," Hall said. "You've got a little bit of anxiety — kind of anxiousness, nervousness, excitement — so it felt a little different. But once you get on the field, it's still football. My leg still worked. Still not quite as explosive as I want to be, and they say that's going to take some time, but I feel good."


Report: Chargers DL Tenny Palepoi fractures foot Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:59 pm ET) Chargers defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi suffered a fracture to his foot during Saturday's practice, sources told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Palepoi had to be carted off the field after sustaining the injury. He is expected to need two months to recover from the injury. Palepoi produced 16 tackles in 16 games last season.


Panthers WR Stephen Hill carted off field with knee injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:27 pm ET) Panthers wide receiver Stephen Hill had to carted off the practice field Saturday after sustaining a right knee injury, reports the Associated Press. Hill spent the 2014 season on the practice squad.

Falcons sign Pierce Burton; release Harland Gunn
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:16 pm ET) The Falcons signed one offensive lineman and released another, the team announced Saturday. The team signed offensive lineman Pierce Burton and released guard Harland Gunn.

Cowboys' Tony Romo plans to practice Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:07 pm ET) Despite dealing with an eye issue, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is expected to practice Saturday, reports the Star-Telegram. Romo was held out of Friday's practice to receive treatment for a sty in his eye.

"I don't want to get into specifics of what we did, but we don't think it's a major thing, and we do anticipate him practicing [Saturday]," coach Jason Garrett said.


49ers LB NaVorro Bowman anxious to begin practicing
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:49 pm ET) After passing his conditioning test Friday, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman is eager to get back on the practice field Saturday, reports CSNBayArea.com.

Bowman missed the entire 2014 season after a season-ending knee injury in the 2013 NFC Championship game. He is expected to participate in the first training camp practice Saturday and is eager to make his first hit.

"That's probably the only mental thing," Bowman said. "If I deliver the hit I want to deliver, once I do that, I'll be ready."


Report: Jets WR Devin Smith has punctured lung
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET) In addition to suffering from broken ribs, Jets wide receiver Devin Smith is also dealing with a punctured lung, sources told NJ.com.

Smith sustained the injuries while after making a catch during Friday's practice. Coach Todd Bowles said Smith would be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, according to ESPNNewYork.com.


Bengals' Adam Jones says team has discussed contract extension
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:32 pm ET) Bengals cornerback Adam Jones revealed Saturday the team has reached out to his agent to discuss signing him to a contract extension, reports ESPN.com.

"They've contacted my agent," Jones said. "But ain't nothing I can do about the contract right now. I'm not upstairs."

Jones, 31, is entering his sixth season with the Bengals. He registered 63 tackles and three interceptions in 16 games last season. He added that he was not concerned about receiving an extension before the season starts.

"If it happens before the end of camp or after the end of camp, I'll be thankful," Jones said. "But right now, I'm just focusing on competing every day and helping my team win."


 
 
 
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