Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down the Buffalo Bills

A fantasy football perspective on the team

What can the Buffalo Bills do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.

Inside the Locker Room
with Leo Roth, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

At 31, can Fred Jackson return from a broken leg and finish what he started in the first half of 2011?
There’s no reason to believe he can’t. The versatile back suffered a hairline fracture in his fibula against Miami on Nov. 20 and likely would’ve been back for the playoffs had there been playoffs for the awful Bills. Jackson was averaging 137.6 all-purpose yards per game at the time of his injury. The only thing that can prevent him from repeating that kind of production is reduced playing time, a very real possibility with the emergence of C.J. Spiller.

How many touches per game can fans expect from C.J. Spiller?
This isn’t easily answered. Spiller, the ninth overall pick in 2010, saw his carries per game increase from 2.1 per game to 14.3 over the final six games as the starting running back after Jackson’s injury. He responded in kind with 446 yards rushing (5.2 average) while adding 24 catches for 187 yards. Jackson and Spiller combined to average just over 20 touches per game in Chan Gailey’s offense. That’s barely enough work for one back, let alone two.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 15 TDs and nine INTs when the Bills went 5–3 in the first half of 2011. He threw nine TDs and 11 INTs while the Bills went 1–7 in the final eight games. Which Fitzpatrick can fans expect in 2012?
Probably the first-half Fitzpatrick now that he’s had a full offseason to heal from the rib injury that undoubtedly affected his play over the final eight games. If it’s the second-half Fitzpatrick that shows up in September, the fans will start calling for new backup QB Vince Young.

Athlon's Best Bets

Sleeper: C.J. Spiller, RB
Deep-Sleeper: David Nelson, WR
Overvalued: Fred Jackson, RB
Top Rookie: Stephon Gilmore, CB
Bounce-Back: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
Top IDP: Mario Williams, DE

2012 Draft Class

1. Stephon Gilmore CB 6-0 190 South Carolina
2. Cordy Glenn T 6-5 343 Georgia
3. T.J. Graham WR 6-0 180 NC State
4. Nigel Bradham LB 6-2 240 Florida State
4. Ron Brooks CB 5-10 188 LSU
5. Zebrie Sanders T 6-6 318 Florida State
5. Tank Carder LB 6-3 237 TCU
6. Mark Asper G 6-7 325 Oregon
7. John Potter K 6-2 209 Western Michigan

Fantasy Impact: Upgrading the defense was the offseason’s top priority. After acquiring Mario Williams to bolster the front seven, Buffalo addressed the secondary by selecting Stephon Gilmore in the first round. Receiver T.J. Graham could be a factor on special teams, and his speed will help stretch defenses and help to take the pressure off of Stevie Johnson.

Fantasy Playoff Run: Weeks 14-16 (STL, SEA, at MIA)

It’s hard to say what the Bills will face here as they take on two teams headed by new coaching staffs and a Seattle team that drafted defense with eight of its 10 picks. Plus, who will be consistent for Buffalo? Ryan Fitzpatrick had no receivers inside the top 15 in fantasy production last season. Running back Fred Jackson was on a tear but got injured. Good luck.

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