Entering his 11th year in the league, Cassel is at that point of his career where he enters every year as either a stopgap starter or veteran insurance for an unproven young player. While he has a solid chance to hold 3rd year player E.J. Manuel off and win the Bills starting quarterback position, we don’t like his odds of producing a solid fantasy season in 2015. Never an accurate passer (reaching a 60% completion rate just once in the last six years), he isn’t a solid fit in a Bills offense that will feature plenty of runs and play action passes. You can do much better on draft day.
Just two years into his career, Manuel is well on his way to being a failed 1st round pick. Benched in favor of veteran journeyman Kyle Orton last season, Manuel will enter training camp in a dogfight with veteran Matt Cassel to win the starting job. Given his lack of instincts and poor accuracy, we don’t expect Manuel to win that battle. If he does, he could prove to be a decent QB2 given the strong skill position players that management has accumulated, but we don’t see any reason for adding him to your fantasy roster until he strings together a few solid performances.
After setting career highs in rushing yards with 1,607 and total yards with 2,147 in 2013, McCoy struggled last season in Philly, averaging just 4.2 yards per carry and 5.5 yards per reception as he lost goal line work and caught the fewest passes of his career with just 28. His reduced effectiveness (at least part of which could be placed on an injury-plagued, inconsistent offensive line) coupled with his desire for a new contract paved his way out of Philadelphia, and he was traded to the Bills in a shocking offseason move. In Buffalo, McCoy will take over as the Bills leading running back and figures to earn 350-375 touches in offensive coordinator Mark Roman’s run heavy offensive attack. The Bills quarterback issues will likely limit McCoy’s touchdown opportunities but he rates as a solid mid to lower tier RB1 given his expected workload.
Since earning a consistent role with the Bills in 2008, FJax has seemingly finished every year with a larger role than was expected of him entering the season. However, at 34 years of age and with the addition of LeSean McCoy to the Bills offense, he figures to assume the role of a pure backup in 2015. Bills management and coaches have indicated that Jackson will spell McCoy to give him a break as well as split the pass receiving role, a role that limits Jackson to little more than a handcuff for McCoy owners.
Taken with the 4th pick in last year’s NFL Draft, Watkins proved to be a dynamic addition to the Bills offense over the first eight games of the season, catching 38 of his 67 targets for 590 yards and five touchdowns. He stumbled after that, however, hauling in just 27 of 61 targets for 392 yards and one touchdown. While Watkins has a bright long term future in the league, his immediate fantasy prospects aren’t nearly as solid, as the Bills quarterbacking situation is unlikely to improve over last year. Also, Percy Harvin was added to supplement the team’s group of wide receivers and the team is expected to feature its rushing attack more often, as has been Rex Ryan’s raison d’être on offense during his entire coaching career. While it would be easy to predict a huge breakout season for Watkins in his sophomore campaign, that’s not how we are reading the tea leaves. He rates as a mid to lower WR2, albeit one with a huge upside.
The enigmatic Harvin brings his road show to Buffalo in 2015 after suffering through a pair of abysmal seasons in Seattle and New York with the Jets. Sure to bring plenty of off the field drama to go along with his superior athletic skills, it is anyone’s guess as to how Harvin will perform in Buffalo after being forced to sign a one-year, $6-million prove it contract. Just 27 years of age on opening day, Harvin has the potential to turn his career around but we’re not sure that he fits in as a key cog in the Bills offense in 2015. New offensive coordinator Mark Roman will feature a strong rushing attack and exciting 2nd year wide receiver Sammy Watkins figures to key the team’s passing attack. We’re not opposed to adding the talented Harvin to fill one of your bench spots but the price needs to be right given his eccentricities coupled with his inability to stay healthy (just 23 games played in the last three seasons) and the Bills questionable quarterback situation. Remember – this is a player that has never topped 1,000 receiving yards during his six-year career.
After a less than stellar rookie season when he caught just 40 of his 86 targets for 587 yards and three touchdowns, Woods received some healthy praise from Bills management after improving to 65 receptions for 699 yards and five touchdowns in 2014. However, that failed to prevent the team from bringing in Percy Harvin in free agency, sending the former 2nd round pick Woods to a reserve role. The truth is that Woods hasn’t shown a lot of playmaking ability and with the addition of Harvin as well as tight end Charles Clay and running back LeSean McCoy in what figures to be a heavily run based offense, we expect to see his production regress in 2015.
Sometimes teams need to overpay and that was the case this offseason when the Bills signed Clay to a five-year, $38-million contract with $20 million in guarantees. That’s a fair chunk of change for a former 6th round pick who has caught 127 passes for 1,364 yards and nine touchdowns in 30 games over the past two seasons. While it’s hard to fault Clay for taking the money the Bills offered, it’s fair to say that he had a much better chance of having a breakout fantasy season in Miami with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback then he will in Buffalo with either Matt Cassel of E.J. Manuel running the offense. We rank Clay as a mid-tier TE2 who will likely finish with between 600-700 yards and 3-5 touchdowns.