Before the Bills stepped foot on the field last season, they prioritized upgrading the weapons around second-year quarterback Josh Allen. John Brown’s field-stretching abilities and Cole Beasley’s experienced hands were added in free agency. The Bills infused more talent into their roster by taking now second-year players Dawson Knox and Devin Singletary in last year’s draft. Singletary, in particular, came on strong in the second half of last season.
Flash forward to 2020, and the Bills are primed to build on their impressive 10-6 season. If you were going pick them for the win over the Patriots in the AFC East, your wager wouldn’t be considered a long shot anymore. The Bills have a deep roster and many of their young players have more experience heading into this season. Leading up to this year’s NFL draft, it looked like the Bills’ primary RB role was going to be Singletary’s job to lose, that is until they used a third-round selection on Utah running back Zack Moss. Ironically, they invested that same draft capital a year earlier in Singletary. Did Devin Singletary not do enough to secure the lead role this upcoming season? Could Zack Moss do exactly what Singletary did to Frank Gore last year? Or could a Singletary-Moss tandem be the latest in a trend of RBBCs?
Singletary came out of college boasting monster numbers. Not only did he post 3 straight 1,000 yard years, but he was also a scoring machine, responsible for 67 total touchdowns while at FAU according to sportsreference.com. Even though he came out amongst a weak running back class, there were reasons to be excited about his potential. Singletary also found himself on a depth chart that he could quickly ascend with only Frank Gore and a soon-to-be-cut LeSean McCoy in front of him. Unfortunately, Singletary found out the hard way that Gore is the NFL equivalent of the gift that keeps on giving every year. It wasn’t until about week 9 that the Bills felt comfortable handing the primary back role to Singletary. From then on Singletary didn’t look back, finishing the season as the 5th ranked running back in term of True Yards Per Carry according to playerprofiler.com. The excitement was building for a potential workhorse in the making, but now it seems the Bills are sending Singletary some all too familiar mixed signals regarding his workload for this upcoming year.
After all, should Singletary, and fantasy players for that matter, be surprised? Aside from the Bills team that Sean McDermott originally inherited in 2017, with an incumbent LeSean McCoy, the team has been non-committal to one specific running back. Though McCoy was at the tail end of his prime, he still had enough juice left to carry the load, making McDermott’s decision easy. Since then two things look to be true. McDermott and company still prefer a quarterback that can make plays with his legs (Josh Allen). And secondly, while McDermott was fine letting it rip with a solo McCoy and a mobile Tyrod Taylor at the start of his tenure, the Bills’ running back philosophy seems to be trending in the direction of RBBC. The rotation of Gore and Singletary for the first half of last season and the selection of Zach Moss only strengthens that case.
Round 3 – Pick 86
Buffalo Bills select:
— Bills QB Watch (@BillsQBwatch) April 25, 2020
Zack Moss Fantasy
Moss had 3 straight seasons of 1,000 yards or more at Utah, albeit in four years as per sports.reference.com. Moss wasn’t quite the producer that his new backfield mate was in college, but for some reason, his name was occasionally tossed around with guys considered to be in the elite tier of backs such as Wisconsin RB Johnathan Taylor or D’Andre Swift out of Georgia. Maybe in a weaker class like Singletary’s, Moss would have gone a bit higher. Nevertheless, being a third-round pick is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a running back in today’s game. Matt Warren of buffalorumblings.com was able to talk with Bills GM Brandon Beane as far as what Moss’ role might look like this year. Beane elaborates that “Zack, I think he’s a very good complement to Devin (Singletary). Devin has that shiftiness. Zack’s gonna be more of that banging in there.” Beane’s comment hints at a potential short-yardage/goal-line role for the rookie.
Finally, when trying to project what the Bills backfield will look like this upcoming season, it is imperative to remember who their quarterback is. Josh Allen’s legs have been his saving grace so far in his career. Over his first two years, he has averaged 99 rush attempts per season as seen on sports.reference.com. That’s quite a large slice of the rushing pie. This would leave whoever mans the Bills backfield with fewer opportunities from the start. Allen’s tendency to tuck and run and the introduction of Zack Moss only hurts Singletary’s floor and caps his upside, much to the chagrin of his future fantasy owners.