AFC East: The All-Encompassing 2014 Divisional Preview

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Jul 21, 2014; Pittsford, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive line Manny Lawson (91) signs autographs after training camp at St John Fisher College. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports. AFC East.

Buffalo Bills

Offseason Recap

The Bills, after finishing 6-10 in 2013, have to hope that (a healthy) E.J. Manuel can guide them to more wins in ’14. With the exception of Brandon Spikes, the Bills did little to bolster their team through free agency; in fact, the Bills let safety Jairus Byrd walk, a move that may come back to haunt the Bills as he was one of the better players on the Bills’ roster in 2013.

More from Patriots News

In the draft, however, the Bills moved up in the first round to acquire Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins–trading away future first round picks is not something I’d do if I were an NFL GM, but I’ll never be confused with an NFL GM so what do I know? That said, I’m curious to see if the Bills, inevitably, end up regretting the steep price they paid for the standout wide receiver.

The biggest offseason storyline, however, has been the loss of linebacker Kiko Alonso, who was lost for the year due to an injury sustained in training camp.

Most Important Player in 2014 not Named E.J. Manuel

C.J. Spiller

When Spiller’s on the field, he’s a game changer–an electric running back who needs to be accounted for at all times. Spiller’s an excellent pass-catching back who routinely makes defenders miss in the open-field.

With Spiller on the field (a rarity), E.J. Manuel will have the security blanket he needs when in trouble. Spiller–who can create from anywhere on the field–is one of few offensive weapons that can change the game on any given play.

The Bills Make the Playoffs If …

They can win games on offense. It’s unlikely Manuel will elevate his game to the point of being an upper-echelon quarterback, however, the Bills’ offense is loaded with playmakers. Thus, if Manuel can simply improve in year two, allowing the Bills to win games on the shoulders of their offense, there’s an outside chance they Bills find themselves a surprise playoff team in ’14.

Ultimately, Buffalo will be an exciting team to watch, specifically on offense, but my guess is they’ll be on the outside looking in on the playoffs in 2014.

Regular Season Record


Bold Prediction

The biggest news coming out of Buffalo in 2014 won’t be anything on the field. Instead, talks of the Bills moving to Canada will dominate the headlines.

Fantasy Stud (Standard Scoring)

Robert Woods

Sammy Watkins is receiving (terrible pun) all of the attention in training camp, but I’ve got my eyes on second-year wideout Robert Woods. When Manuel was healthy in ’13, he and Woods had a rapport that (should) carry over into the 2014 season.

Woods, in my opinion, is an underrated wideout who has the chance to put up numbers that will greatly exceed a current ADP of #78 amongst wide receivers. I think it’s reasonable to expect number somewhere in the range of 60/900/5.

Fantasy Dud (Standard Scoring)

Sammy Watkins

Fact: first-year wide receivers rarely excel in the NFL–in the last five years, Keenan Allen and A.J. Green are the only two wide receivers to amass over 1,000 yards receiving in their first NFL season (only three wide receivers have gone over 1,000 yards in their rookie season in the last decade.)

Opinion: in terms of talent, I believe that–coming out college–Watkins is a notch below A.J. Green, Julio Jones, and Dez Bryant. Therefore, I find it hard to believe he’ll have over 1,000 yards receiving during his rookie campaign. With a current ADP of #26, there are other receivers–being selected later–that present better value than Watkins i.e., Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Michael Floyd, Reggie Wayne).

Fantasy Sleeper

Bryce Brown

Brown, who–coming out high school–was the number one recruit in the nation at running back, has found success in the NFL with limited touches. Serving as the primary backup to Eagles’ running back LeSean McCoy over the past two seasons, Brown has a chance to succeed


when C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson get injured. He’s an ultra-talented back, as evidenced by the price paid to acquire him (a fourth round draft pick sent to the Eagles.)

If Brown can pick up the playbook (something he struggled with in Philadelphia), and Spiller and/or Jackson are limited due to injury, expect Brown to put up low-end RB3 numbers in 2014: those kind of numbers are great value for a back whose current ADP is #69 amongst running backs.