Buffalo Bills Fantasy Preview
The expectations for the Buffalo Bills in 2022 are extremely high, They are heavy favorites in a number of categories this NFL season. According to Fanduel Sportsbook, the Bills have the best odds to win Super Bowl LVII (+650), the best odds to see their quarterback Josh Allen win the MVP (+700), and are tied with the highest number of projected wins (11.5) with the Buccaneers. But with the AFC East improving, a harder NFL schedule, and a target on their back, can the Bills live up to these high expectations?
Josh Allen is being drafted as the QB1 in every fantasy football platform you can find, and for good reason. He finished as the QB1 in both 2020 and 2021 while also leading the QB2 in both years by at least an entire point per game. There are no signs of him stopping either. One could argue he underperformed last season, as he dropped from 7.9 Y/A (passing yards per attempt) in 2020 to just 6.8 Y/A in 2021. To put this in perspective, Teddy Bridgewater, Baker Mayfield, Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke, and Justin Fields all posted better Y/A numbers than Josh Allen in 2021. This seems more of an outlier than a trend for Allen, so expect his Y/A to increase in 2022, and in turn, deliver more fantasy points to fantasy managers this season.
Devin Singletary more than paid off last year for his owners as he finished as the RB18 in PPR formats, despite having an ADP of RB37. Singletary figures to be the starter, but that alone shouldn’t assure fantasy managers that he could be a worthwhile pick at his current ADP of 86. He has new competition in town that may limit his upside in 2022.
This brings me to Bills rookie running back James Cook, who was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The only two running backs who were selected before Cook were Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker, both of whom carried high pedigrees coming into the draft. This alone should tell you how highly the Bills think of Cook. Not only did they use second-round draft capital on him, but they selected him as the first RB drafted after the “Big 2” went off the board. Cook is especially intriguing as a pass-catcher, which is shown by his 8.2% college target share, which places him in the 65th percentile. He also ran a 4.42 forty-yard dash. These two together profile him as a speed back with good hands, an ideal combination for a breakout fantasy running back. At his current ADP of 123, Cook is a highly-intriguing late dart throw in 2022.
I think the most likely outcome is that Singletary gets the bulk of carries and Cook gets the bulk of RB targets this year. In this scenario, neither one of them would carry much value as a weekly starter. Because of this, I’m taking Cook and his discounted ADP and hoping he receives enough volume to crack the top 24 RBs this season. Singletary is an ok pick at his ADP, but as I mentioned earlier, Cook’s likely role as the third-down back highly caps Singletary’s ceiling, so view him as a flex option or a bench player who can start as injuries and bye weeks come up.
The big dog in the WR room that even most casual NFL fans know is Stefon Diggs. Diggs has been nothing but consistently dominant over his career, finishing with no less than 11.5 PPG in his career as well as averaging 18.7 PPG since arriving in Buffalo two years ago. Similar to Allen, I could argue that Diggs has been underperforming during his tenure in Buffalo. Over the past two seasons, Josh Allen has posted a 6% TD rate, while Diggs has only posted a 5.5% TD rate. While this may seem like only a minor discrepancy, in reality, it is the difference between scoring 18 TDs the past two years (what Diggs did) and 20 TDs (what he could have done with a 6% TD rate). That’s an extra 6 points a year Diggs hasn’t achieved that he very easily could have. This again feels more like variance than a trend, so I expect Diggs to catch an extra TD or two this season. He’s currently WR3 in my rankings, a few spots ahead of his ADP of WR5.
His teammate Gabriel Davis has the next highest ADP in the BIlls receiver room at 89. He has flown up draft boards and now sits as the WR36. If you can find him in that range, he is a must-draft. Some platforms, such as Underdog, have him being drafted all the way up at WR24. His price is higher on Underdog due to his ability to have big weeks, but I wouldn’t be shocked if other fantasy websites caught up to Underdog’s ADP by August. Davis is intriguing because of his insane TD efficiency. Through his first two seasons, Davis has a 10.4% TD rate, almost double of what Diggs has. While this is likely unsustainable, if Davis can increase his targets in 2022 and keep his TD efficiency relatively high, he’ll be a great pick at ADP.
The other somewhat notable Bills receiver is newly-signed Jamison Crowder, who’s being drafted as the WR69 off the board. There’s not a whole lot to get excited about here, but if he becomes the Cole Beasley replacement and earns similar target numbers, he’ll be a steal that late and a viable weekly flex play.
The last position group to look at is the tight ends. Buffalo’s TE group got a lot more competitive this offseason when they signed OJ Howard to a contract that comes in at a little under $3M over one year. The belief is that Dawson Knox will still be the starter, which is reflected in ADP. Knox sits at TE8 while OJ Howard goes undrafted. Knox shouldn’t then be impacted much by the signing, but don’t forget that Howard was once a highly coveted prospect and was drafted 19th overall in the 2017 NFL draft.
Knox shattered expectations and broke out last season after finishing as the TE11 without even being drafted in most leagues. This is mostly due to his insane TD efficiency that saw him score 9 times on only 71 targets. This will be extremely difficult to maintain, so Knox will need to increase his targets in 2022 significantly to make up for expected lost efficiency and to justify his current ADP. If his ADP stays as high as it is right now, I would be looking for other options at TE.
OJ Howard is a good player and he’s playing in a great offense, but he is not a worthy pick in standard leagues. If you are playing in a deeper league where you can afford to roster more than two TEs, I think he is an intriguing last pick.
Jacob White is an avid fan of all things NFL, particularity fantasy football and the Chicago Bears. He is currently studying Economics at Wabash College where he hopes to learn the skills to further his career in the sports entertainment industry. He specializes in redraft and best ball, where he routinely finishes at a profit, including a 2020 13-0 finish on the high stakes KFFSC platform. You can find him on Twitter @FF_JacobWhite for additional advice on all things football and the semi-occasional homer tweet.