2012 Team Outlook: Buffalo
WR David Nelson, CLE - Bye Week Fill-in
In only his second season last year, David Nelson started 13 games and was a weekly contributor to this team's offensive success. Due to his elite height, Nelson is a developing red-zone threat. The Bills receiving corps battled with injuries last year, so it is possible that they will have an open competition for their WR2 and WR3 positions. Nelson has a terrific opportunity to earn that role in 2012, but he will also have to compete with Donald Jones, Brad Smith and rookie T.J. Graham from N.C. State. Buffalo will likely evaluate this situation throughout training camp and preseason, making Nelson a wild card selection late in your fantasy drafts.
Update (8/12): Nelson is dealing with a leg injury but still looks like a safe bet to be the Bills' slot receiver.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
TE Scott Chandler, BUF (TE - #21) - Bye Week Fill-in
Logic flew out the window when Scott Chandler scored his fourth touchdown only three weeks into the young 2011 season. In fact, prior to last year, Chandler only had one reception in his career. This anonymity likely worked in his favor with defenses draped all over wide receiver Steve Johnson; Chandler was free to work the red zone and indeed he did with six touchdowns last year. Unfortunately, Chandler was wildly inconsistent, scoring fewer than six fantasy points in nine of his 14 games in standard scoring leagues. Take a pass on Chandler during your fantasy draft and at best, consider him as a bye-week replacement in deep leagues. Unless your league requires two TEs, he shouldn't be on your radar until he proves to be more reliable.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
TE Lee Smith, BUF - Not Draft Worthy
With a whopping four receptions for 11 yards last season, Lee Smith won't be much of a fantasy commodity. Head coach Chan Gailey is known for not utilizing his tight ends much and Smith is an in-line blocking specialist that is almost assured to have very receptions on the year. The Bills are slowly improving on offense (J.P. Losman, anybody?), but that does not mean they have the firepower to support a fantasy viable TE2. To make matters worse, Buffalo really should have considered adding a tight end in the 2012 NFL Draft to come in and compete with this less-than-stellar group. Smith finished the year on injured reserve after an ankle injury abrupty ended his season in December and he'll need to re-establish himself in only his second year in the league.
PK Rian Lindell, BUF (K - #22) - Quality Backup
On February 3, Buffalo re-signed Rian Lindell to a four-year, $11 million dollar contract. Not a bad way to make a living, right? The larger point being that although the Bills currenly have two kickers on the roster, Lindell is basically a shoe-in to be the team's No. 1 kicker. This is likely great news for Lindell, considering he missed half the 2011 season because of injuries. In eight contests, Lindell scored 8.0 points per game, 13th best in the NFL last year. Assuming that Buffalo can continue to improve on offense, Lindell has a chance to become a fantasy starter in 12-team leagues.
Buffalo Defense (Def - #10) - Gamble (high risk)
Buffalo has a bit of a polarizing fantasy defense. If your league's scoring settings are focused on big plays like interceptions, forced fumbles, and defensive touchdowns, then the Bills are an above-average group. This is because the Bills play an aggressive style of defense that looks to create turnovers. The flip side to that is this team gave up a ton of yards and points. Buffalo allowed 434 points last season, third-most in the NFL. They also ranked amongst the bottom five in rushing yards allowed. The Bills wisely signed free agent pass-rushing talent Mario Williams, but that's still just one piece to an evolving defense that should only be considered a backup option in most fantasy formats.