QB EJ Manuel
(2012 QB Rank – N/A)
Being a first-round pick means that a quarterback has the talent to play the position. Unfortunately, for close to 15 years, being a Buffalo Bills quarterback has meant not being a productive quarterback. With new coach Doug Marrone, perhaps that will change and Florida State rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel will become the team’s most productive starting quarterback since, well, Doug Flutie. Manuel has the size, arm strength, accuracy and running ability to be a solid starter, but he was a surprise first-round pick who didn’t run a full-scale, pro-style offense at Florida State. The Bills have solid weapons at running back and a wide receiver depth chart loaded with potential, but Manuel is more of a dynasty prospect than a player you will want to own in your redraft league.
QB Kevin Kolb
(2012 QB Rank – #35, 17.8 FPts/G)
Having released incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills signed Kolb to a modest two-year, $6.1-million contract in the offseason with the expectation that they would use the draft to acquire a prospect at quarterback. Sure enough, Buffalo used the 16th pick in the draft to acquire E.J. Manuel. With Manuel considered a raw prospect, Kolb could open the season in the starting lineup, but he would need to be effective in leading the team on a potential playoff run to remain under center for 16 games. Given his history of injuries and ineffectiveness, the odds of that happening are remote.
RB C.J. Spiller
(2012 RB Rank – #7, 13.6 FPts/G; #6 PPR, 16.3 FPts/G)
After looking mostly like a bust for the first year and a half of his career, Spiller is coming off a run of 22 games through which he has accumulated 2,336 total yards and 11 touchdowns, including 1,703 yards and eight scores in 2012. That is the type of production a mid-tier RB1 puts up and is certainly impressive considering Spiller had six games last year with 13 or fewer touches. With a new coaching staff in Buffalo and Spiller having proven that he deserves to start and get a heavy dose of touches, he has the potential to be a top five fantasy RB in 2013. Considering Spiller averaged 6.0 yards per carry and 10.7 yards per reception last season, look for the Bills to get him far more touches than the 250 he had last season. That bodes well for his fantasy prospects in 2013.
RB Fred Jackson
(2012 RB Rank – #36, 8.9 FPts/G; #34 PPR, 12.3 FPts/G)
After starting 2011 on a pace that had him headed to the Pro Bowl, only to suffer a season-ending fractured fibula in Week 11, it has been all downhill for Jackson. He has appeared in just ten games in each of the last two seasons, with a pair of right knee sprains limiting him in 2012. While still productive when healthy last season (he averaged 65 total yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game), Jackson is headed for more of a pure backup role in 2013 because of C.J. Spiller’s emergence. Still, at 32 years of age, Jackson is one of the most highly rated handcuffs in the league, making him a solid RB3.
RB Tashard Choice
(2012 RB Rank – #91, 3.3 FPts/G; #94 PPR, 3.8 FPts/G)
At 28 years of age, Choice has been relegated to a third-string role in Buffalo. However, with Fred Jackson struggling to remain healthy in each of the last two seasons, Choice has a chance to see the field in 2013. Just don’t expect him to get the ball much, even when he does play. He has hit double-digit touches just twice during his year-and-a-half stay with the Bills.
WR Steve Johnson
(2012 WR Rank – #20, 8.8 FPts/G; #18 PPR, 13.7 FPts/G)
The knock on Johnson is that he isn’t a true No. 1 wide receiver. While that may be the case, he is remarkably consistent, catching between 76 and 82 balls for 1,004 to 1,073 yards and six to ten touchdowns over the last three years while averaging 13.1, 13.2 and 13.2 yards per reception. The easy thing would be to project him for 80 receptions for 1,050 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, and who could quibble with that? However, the wrinkle in that equation is the quarterback situation in Buffalo, where Kevin Kolb will likely start the season before giving way to rookie first-round pick E.J. Manuel at some point. While Johnson will remain the focal point of the Bills passing attack in 2013, look for his production to dip slightly, making him only a high-end WR3 this season.
WR Robert Woods
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
Unable over the past three seasons to find a consistently productive wide receiver opposite Steve Johnson among a cast of undrafted free agents and low-round picks, the Bills used a high second-round pick to acquire Woods. The USC receiver is a polished product with good size but lacks true deep speed. However, he was consistently productive in college and faces little competition to open the season in the starting lineup. With tight end Scott Chandler coming off a late-season ACL injury, Woods could surprise in 2013. Consider him as a late-round flier in redraft leagues and a solid prospect in dynasty formats.
WR T.J. Graham
(2012 WR Rank – #99, 2.6 FPts/G; #85 PPR, 4.6 FPts/G)
The future looked rosy for Graham after the Bills used a third-round pick to acquire him during the 2012 draft. However, after a marginally productive rookie campaign during which he caught 31 passes for 322 yards and one touchdown, Graham faces a crowded depth chart with the addition of a pair of draft picks in Robert Woods (2nd rnd) and Marquise Goodwin (3rd rnd), as well as undrafted rookie free agent Da’Rick Rogers. Monitor Graham during the preseason and consider him worth a late-round flier, in hopes that he earns a spot in the starting lineup.
WR Marquise Goodwin
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
One year after drafting the smallish T.J. Graham in the third round, the Bills drafted another undersized receiver in Goodwin in the third round. Welcome to drafting science, Buffalo style. Sure, a new coach is in town, but recently retired general manager Buddy Nix was on hand to make both picks. At 5’9” and 179 pounds, Goodwin is destined to play out of the slot, but the speedster will have a hard time carving out a meaningful role during his rookie season. Goodwin is a low rated dynasty prospect.
WR Da’Rick Rogers
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
With solid size and speed, Rogers should have been a Day Two draft pick. His off-the-field activities prevented that, however, and the Bills chose to take a shot at him as an undrafted free agent. The early prognosis is that this was an astute move by Buffalo, but one wrong step will result in Rogers exit from roster. Provided he keeps it together, he is worth gambling on with one of your lower roster spots.
WR Marcus Easley
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
What can you say about Marcus Easley other than he’s been the victim of some extremely bad luck. He missed his first two seasons with injuries, including a heart ailment, before finally appearing in three games last season but failing to catch a pass. With Steve Johnson and four first- or second-year players ahead of him on the depth chart, Easley’s string of bad luck doesn’t figure to end in 2013.
TE Scott Chandler
(2012 TE Rank – #13, 6.2 FPts/G; #15 PPR, 9.1 FPts/G)
While Chandler solidified the Bills at the tight end position over the past two seasons, his outlook for 2013 is uncertain because of the torn ACL he suffered in Week 16 last year. While Chandler established career highs last season in receptions (43) and yards (571), he was far less effective in a more expanded role than in 2011. His reception-to-target ratio dropped from a very solid 82.6 to just 58.1. Coming off a serious late-season injury and with an uncertain situation at quarterback, Chandler is little more than bye-week filler in 2013.