Sammy Watkins
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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins is loaded with talent and has blazing speed. He also has battled numerous injuries in two seasons.
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His rookie season was frustrating. While he did well enough, especially considering he was catching passes from the likes of EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton, he just didn’t stack up to his rookie counterparts. Watkins finished with 982 yards and six touchdowns. Meanwhile Odell Beckham (1,305 yards, 12 touchdowns), Mike Evans (1,051 yards, 12 touchdowns), Kelvin Benjamin (1,008 yards, 9 TDs) and Jordan Matthews (872 yards, 8 TDs) proved to be more better fantasy options.
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Watkins took a step forward last year with 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns, but he missed three games. The Bills got much better QB play from Tyrod Taylor. This looked like a breakout year for Watkins.
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Unfortunately break is the operative word. Watkins underwent surgery recently for broken bones in his foot. Anytime someone that relies on their speed has issues with their wheels, there is a great cause for concern. We are hearing that he should not miss any action. Time will tell how the recovery goes. I have him currently ranked inside the top 20 wide receivers for 2016, but I am definitely keeping my eye on him.


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C.J. Spiller was one of the most overdrafted running backs in the league last year. Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best seemed to draw more ire, but Spiller was taken higher in the draft and Mathews finished with 383 more total yards and six more touchdowns while Best finished with 602 more yards and five more scores.
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Spiller finished with just 283 rushing yards at 3.8 yards per carry, which isn’t nearly on par with his explosive speed. He played in 14 games as a rookie, yet finished with at least 50 total yards on just one occasion. For all the talk of his explosiveness, he had just one run and one reception over 20+ yards. To say his game didn’t translate at this level is an understatement of epic proportions.
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Two of his main issues were fumbles and pass protection. In just 74 attempts Spiller put the ball on the turf five times. Three of his fumbles were recovered by the defense. Failing to pick up the blitz and coughing up the ball are two of the quickest ways to a coach’s doghouse.
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Unfortunately for Spiller not having the OTAs costs him valuable time working on improving in those areas. You can work on ball control on your own, but it’s hard to simulate pass protection.
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Spiller has be compared to Jamaal Charles, but Charles was effective even when he wasn’t getting a lot of touches. In his rookie year he carried the ball just 67 times, which was actually seven fewer than Spiller. Yet he had 74 more yards thanks to a 5.3 yards per carry average. Charles had three more receptions, but 115 more yards. In basically the same amount of touches Charles outgained Spiller by 189 yards.
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Darren McFadden struggled early, but the signs were there. Even Reggie Bush, whose production has not nearly matched the hype, had been productive up until last year.
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Spiller should be significantly better in 2011. Not simply because the ball was set so low, but because he does have the talent. He’s worth a look as your RB4, particularly in PPR leagues. Don’t write him off just yet. You may be pleasantly surprised.
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Stevie Johnson helped reinforce the third-year receiver theory big time last year. He had 12 catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns in his first two seasons. After a modest six catches for 71 yards in the first two games last year he exploded.
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From Week 3 until Week 11 Johnson averaged 82.1 yards with nine touchdowns in those eight games. Those aren’t WR3 numbers. Those are Andre and Calvin Johnson numbers.
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Alas, all good things must come to an end. After his three touchdown performance in Week 11, Stevie only reached paydirt one more time. Hard to be considered elite without scoring touchdowns. He also failed to reach 75 receiving yards in any of those games. Johnson wasn’t making up for it with yardage as he averaged just 57.5 yards over that span. He was still keeping PPR league owners happy, but snagging five receptions per game.
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Now that he has established himself as the team’s top offensive threat, he’ll start garnering more attention. The Bills are going to be proactive by moving him around, but without a true weapon to take some pressure away, Johnson could look for like second half Stevie Johnson. Lee Evans slowed big time last year. If he can play like he did prior to the 2009 season, Johnson will be a beneficiary.
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If the Bills want to get Lee Evans and C.J. Spiller more involved in the offense, those looks will have to come from somewhere. Johnson, who had 143 targets last year could see a few less passes his way.
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Before you get the impression that I am bashing Stevie, I do like him. I love that he kept working knowing he’d eventually get a shot. I just think he’s a victim of setting the bar too high. Going for 1073 yards and ten touchdowns makes it hard for him to match his production.
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Plus, you’re going to have to get him early. Currently he is the 14th ranked running back according to MockDraftCentral. I know Bills fan will argue his merit until they are blue in the face, but he is going, on average, ahead of DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson, Percy Harvin, and Wes Welker to name a few. I’m not sure I buy that.
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What are your thoughts on Stevie?
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Posted by LestersLegends | Categories: Fantasy Football


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The AFC East is a division without a dominant running back.
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Tthe class of the division is Shonn Greene, but isn’t that what we expected last year? LaDainian Tomlinson is still in the picture, but he seems to be a peace with not being the featured back anymore. Greene is a powerful runner that should have a solid season. He’s better suited to be an RB2, but if you went WR or QB with your first pick or two, he is capable of putting up RB1 numbers. Heck, he’s capable of putting up top ten numbers. LT should still be owned, but don’t reach because of his name. He’s best suited for PPR leagues. Joe McKnight also could work his way into the mix, but the lockout will probably lead to more of a veteran presence early. Rookie Bilal Powell is best suited for dynasty leagues.
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In New England you have a fantasy mess. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was voted Running Back Most Likely to Regress by his classmates. With Danny Woodhead and rookies Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley the Pats’ running back pool is to murky to rely on. At some point it could sort itself out, but Bill Belichick is not concerned with fantasy numbers. Winning is the name of the game, and he’ll mix and match his RBs as he sees fit.
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Buffalo is a full-blown RBBC. Fred Jackson remains the starter and without OTAs will keep a foot up on second-year back C.J. Spiller. We’ve seen more committees lately that have allowed for two effective fantasy players to coexist so don’t be scared off. Jackson makes a solid RB3 and Spiller a solid RB4. If one of the backs goes down, the other’s value will jump dramatically. Once again Jackson will likely be undervalued on draft day.
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Then we have Miami. We still don’t know what will happen with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Assuming only one returns, that back will have the advantage on rookie Daniel Thomas thanks to the lockout. Both veterans have excelled in a RBBC so they will be willing to share the carries. Thomas will have to get up to speed quickly picking up blitzes to stay on the field. He very well could end up the top rookie runner this  year and has a bright future in keeper leagues.
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Now that you’ve strolled through the muddy AFC East running back terrain, be sure to wipe your feet.
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Tom Brady throwing
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The AFC East is truly a case of the “haves” and the “have nots”.
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The quarterback position is the most glamorous one in the league, and the Patriots have the most glamorous one at that position. Not only does Tom Brady have the model wife and movie star looks, but he puts up video game numbers. Most quarterbacks would struggle after losing a talent like Randy Moss, but Brady got better. He finished with 3900 yards and 36 touchdowns while throwing just four interceptions. Jay Cutler did that in one game last year. Look for Brady to be the class of the division and among the best in the league again.
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Mark Sanchez doesn’t put up the monster numbers like Brady as he three for just 3291 yards and 17 TDs (13 INTs) last year, but he’s also a winner having been to two consecutive AFC Championships. With their rushing attack Sanchez doesn’t have to carry the team, but he is more than a caretaker. Look for Sanchez to improve once again for the Jets, assuming he gets Santonio Holmes and/or Braylon Edwards back.
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While Ryan Fiztpatrick is a far cry from Tom Brady, he actually was fairly effective for the Buffalo Bills. He threw for 3000 yards and 23 TDs (15 INT) despite playing just 13 games. There were thoughts that the Bills would grab Blaine Gabbert in the 2011 NFL Draft, but Buffalo opted to stick with the Harvard quarterback. He developed a nice rapport with Stevie Johnson, which should continue going forward. Questions remain as to whether or not the Bills will pick up Lee Evans option. If he leaves, it will be a blow to Fitzpatrick. If he stays, Fitzpatrick makes a solid QB2.
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Then there’s Miami. Chad Henne isn’t the answer. There is some talk that the fins will deal for Kyle Orton. He was be a quality QB2 if  he’s reunited with Brandon Marshall. We’ll have to see who ends up getting the nod before we can rate their quarterback situation.


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Having fun with the SMW Clothing t-shirt contests? Good, because the fine people over there are hooking you up with another chance to add to your wardrobe.
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For this week’s contest, you have to guess, without going over, how many total yards Cleveland running back Peyton Hills will get against Buffalo on Sunday. For the record, he’s averaging 116.5 total yards per game with a high of 220 yards and a low of 61.
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The Bills are one of the worst defenses in the league allowing more rushing yards (170.9 per game) than any other ream in the league.
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So leave a comment with your best guess and be sure to check out SMW Clothing.


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The Bills cleared their logjam at running back by trading Marshawn Lynch to Seattle for draft picks. He should have no problem taking the lead role once he gets acclimated with Seattle’s system. Lynch, and those who have been holding onto him in hopes of a deal, are the biggest winner in this deal.
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Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are also winners as they should now share the load going forward. I expect Jackson to be the primary back with Spiller offering a change of pace.
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The biggest loser is Justin Forsett, who will be relegated to third-down duty.

I profiled C.J. Spiller and Arian Foster earlier this summer (click their names to read the articles), suggesting that both RBs would be solid RB3 or flex players. Both RBs had teammates succumb to injuries in recent days that cleared the path to additional carries. The question now is whether or not they have become legitimate RB2s.

 


I’ll start with Spiller, who had not one, but two teammates get hurt. Fred Jackson broke a bone in his hand, an injury that should cost him between 4-6 weeks. If the injury lingers to the high end of the estimated recovery time, Jackson would miss two weeks of the season. Marshawn Lynch suffered a sprained ankle, which could cost him 3-4 weeks, or right before the season opener. Spiller will get the rest of the preseason to take all the first team reps. Given the lofty expectations that come from a top ten pick, Spiller could take hold of the starting job and never let go. With his big play potential, Spiller becomes a legitimate RB2 in my eyes, with a legitimate shot at 1200 total yards.

 


Meanwhile Arian Foster’s job security was bolstered when rookie Ben Tate suffered a season-ending ankle injury of his own. Tate was expected to challenge, and possibly overtake Foster for the role of starting RB. Not only did he lose his primary competition, but Steve Slaton’s fumbling problem resurfaced. Nothing gets you in a coaches doghouse faster than putting the ball on the carpet. Slaton figures to have a significant role in the offense, especially in passing situations, but if the fumbles persist, Foster could get an even heavier workload. With such a potent passing attack, Foster should be able to turn in a productive season and join Spiller in the RB2 ranks.

 

Click here to see my updated RB rankings.

 

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

Fred Jackson Injured

13 August 2010

Fred Jackson cutting

 

As if things couldn’t be worse for Buffalo’s offense, starting RB Fred Jackson suffered hand and ankle injuries in the Bills’ preseason opener. Jackson could remain sidelined the rest of the preseason, and even into the season.

 

Few teams have the depth at RB like the Bills, so the team should be just fine with rookie C.J. Spiller and Marshawn Lynch. If there was a chance that Lynch would be dealt before the season, don’t expect that to happen now.

 

C.J. Spiller and Marshawn Lynch should be moving up your depth charts while Jackson should slide down.

 

Image courtesy of Icon SMI


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

I think C.J. Spiller is so full of talent that it oozes out of his pores. The kid is going to be the real deal. I just think people should lower their expectations for him in his first year. In keeper leagues, by all means he should be flying off the draft boards, but in standard leagues, he’s going a bit early for my tastes.

 

According to Mock Draft Central, Spiller has an ADP of 59, 27th among running backs. I have him a few slots down on the RB rankings (click to see my 2010 RB rankings), but there are players going after Spiller that I would absolutely prefer over the rookie.

 

For example, proven RBs like Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Marion Barber, and Clinton Portis are higher on my list. Spiller is also going before Jason Witten, Hines Ward, Tony Gonzalez, Brent Celek, among others.

 

So why would I wait on drafting Spiller so early? For starters he’s in a terrible offense. Buffalo ranked 28th in points last year with a mere 16.1 per game. They were 30th in passing yards per game at 157.2. The Bills ranked 16th with 116.7 rushing yards per game, and therein lies the problem.

 

The Bills weren’t hurting at RB when they drafted Spiller. Sure, they’ve had it up to their ears with Marshawn Lynch, but Fred Jackson quietly had a solid season. He had 1433 total yards (1062 rushing, 371 receiving) and 4 TDs (2 rushing, 2 receiving). Plus, the Bills have been unable to find a partner in a Marshawn Lynch trade, meaning they have three capable running backs.

 

Like I said, I love Spiller in keeper leagues, but I would want him as an RB3 or a flex player. I much rather make sure I had quality starters at QB, RB, WR, and possible TE (depending on who’s available) before I take part of a RBBC at best, or a three-headed monster at worst, for one of the most anemic offenses in the league.

 

Prediction:  950 total yards (700 rushing, 240 receiving), 6 TDs (4 rush, 2 rec)

 

What do you expect from C.J. Spiller?

 

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