The Bills enter 2010 with a new management in team in place. Buddy Nix takes over as the team’s general manager and he chose Chan Gailey as his head coach.
Gailey has a reputation of being able to cobble together solid offenses, utilizing the various talents of the players he has to maximum potential. He’s going to need that ability in spades in Buffalo, where the quarterback position and offensive line have been major issues for the past few years.
Inexplicably, the Bills failed to address either issue, using a seventh-round pick on developmental quarterback Levi Brown and signing veteran retread Cornell Green to man the right tackle position. The other huge hole on offense is opposite Lee Evans, where disappointing 2008 second-round pick James Hardy will compete with fellow third-year player Steve Johnson and rookie fourth-round pick Marcus Easley for the starting position.
Expecting the Bills to improve much on the 30th ranking in total offense from 2009 seems a stretch given the lack of upgrades on the offensive side of the ball.
QB Trent Edwards
Two people in NFL management circles think Edwards is a starting caliber quarterback and they happen to the Bills head coach and general manager. Edwards wins the lottery on that one but he won’t win any fantasy games for you, that’s for sure. With Edwards, the Bills have an injury prone, checkdown artist incapable of making plays on a consistent basis. It’s highly unlikely the light will go on for him entering his fourth year in the league. He couldn’t succeed in 2009 with Lee Evans and Terrell Owens lining up at wide receiver and the Bills wide receivers are significantly worse this year.
RB Fred Jackson
Poor Freddie. It takes the Bills coaches almost a whole season to realize he should be starting ahead of Marshawn Lynch and then the team’s new management takes Spiller with the ninth overall pick. Likely the biggest fantasy loser from the rookie draft. However, look for him to assume the lead role for the early part of the season and perhaps the entire year, with Spiller spelling him and getting plenty of looks in the passing game. Jackson is worthy of significant playing time but Spiller’s presence and the Bills questionable offensive outlook make him a bit of a risk.
RB C.J. Spiller
The Bills had as many fumbles in the running game last season as touchdowns. That’s right, six rushing touchdowns to go with six fumbles. Needless to say, neither Fred Jackson nor Marshawn Lynch gave fantasy owners much joy in 2009. Bring on rookie C.J. Spiller who likely won’t take many carries from Jackson or Lynch on first and second down but will fill a dual role as a receiver and runner. Picture him more in the vain of Reggie Bush, Percy Harvin, or fellow rookie Dexter McCluster. His fantasy value will be sporadic and will only increase should Jackson or Lynch miss time due to injury.
WR Lee Evans
In 2009, Evans set career lows in receptions with and receiving yards with 612. His seven touchdowns helped him finish a respectable 33rd overall amongst wide receivers but he continued his tradition of being a fantasy tease. Remarkably the Bills did not acquire a replacement for Trent Edwards at quarterback so with no upgrade at QB, Evans figures to produce middling fantasy points again as a backup fantasy wide receiver in 2010.
WR Steve Johnson
With Terrell Owens and Josh Reed out of the picture, Johnson is fighting with James Hardy to earn a starting role. Don’t be surprised if he earns it. Unfortunately, the Bills passing offense is pathetic and the team will likely give Hardy every opportunity to win the starting role given his draft status. In any event, Johnson’s prospects for fantasy success in 2010 are minimal at best.
WR James Hardy
Hardy is confident, brash player entering his third year but has been a complete non-factor for two years in Buffalo. He is behind in his development due to missing all of last offseason with an injury that also caused him to miss a portion of the 2009 regular season. Fortunately for Hardy, the Bills have little depth at wide receiver or else he might be in danger of being released by the new management in Buffalo. Barring an excellent performance in the preseason, there is little reason to draft Hardy.
TE Shawn Nelson
The 2009 fifth-round pick looked the part as a rookie, displaying flashes of speed and an ability to get open. However, injuries and inconsistency prevented him from filling up the stat sheet and he finished the year with only 18 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. Nelson is a talented player with the athleticism to succeed but his prospects in 2010 are limited due to his lack of experience and the Bills lack of talent on offense. He should win the starting job and is a decent prospect for keeper leagues and worth drafting in deep leagues.