The Buffalo Bills’ front office members are quietly running one of the smartest organizations in the NFL. They’ve got an imperfect, but above average quarterback and they’ve done everything they can to accentuate his strengths and help him improve his weaknesses. The play calling changes that OC Brian Daboll was willing to make in-season last year, as detailed in Sharp Football’s 2020 Football Preview, showed levels of humility and creativity not often found in the Old Boys Club that is the NFL. It illustrates a desire to win by building the offense around the roster he has, not jamming the roster into his preferred system — something few coaches are willing to do.
Per Sharp Football’s Strength of Schedule metrics (listed below) the Bills are set to face a slew of tough defenses in 2020, although there are a number of exceptions to that rule, like the Jets (twice), the Dolphins (twice), the Raiders, and the Cardinals. The silver lining of the teams with tough defenses though, is that many of those teams also feature strong offenses (New England, Tennessee, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, etc.) which should push the pace of games, leading to an inflated box score for Josh Allen and Co. as they fight to keep up.
- Mid-tier schedule overall
- 5th toughest in terms of the opponent’s overall defensive efficiency
- 8th toughest blend of pass defenses
- 8th toughest in terms of the opponent’s pass defense efficiency
- 4th toughest blend of rush defenses
- 7th toughest in terms of the opponent’s run defense efficiency
- 13th softest in terms of the opponent’s overall offensive efficiency
- 13th softest in terms of the opponent’s offensive passing efficiency
- 3rd softest in terms of the opponent’s offensive rushing efficiency
The narrative surrounding Josh Allen is that he’s a cannon-armed, scattershot passer, incapable of throwing dimes anywhere on the field. While it’s true that he does have one of the strongest arms in the league, effortlessly slinging the ball downfield while off balance, Sports Info Solutions found that Allen was actually the 6th-most accurate passer in the intermediate area of the field in 2019. (But to the haters’ point, Allen struggles mightily to dial in it on deep passes.)
6 days until we get to watch Josh Allen do Josh Allen things againpic.twitter.com/QD1J8Vt44O— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 7, 2020
But here’s where the Bills’ front office comes in. In the 2019 offseason, the team brought in downfield dynamo WR John Brown and Brown ended up having the best season of his 6-year career. Not yet satisfied with their work, GM Brandon Beane shipped their 2020 first round NFL Draft pick (and more) away in exchange for the league’s premier deep ball receiver, Stefon Diggs. With Diggs and Brown now perennially lurking downfield while slot receiver Cole Beasley and second-year tight end Dawson Knox patrolling the short-to-intermediate zones, Josh Allen is set to take his passing game to the next level in 2020.
Allen’s fantasy potential isn’t limited to just his arm though. The third-year quarterback has some serious wheels. After starting a full 16 games last year and 11 games in his rookie 2018 campaign, Allen has already totaled 1,141 rushing yards and 17(!) rushing touchdowns. Per Ian Hartitz, Allen has found the end zone on eight of his 10 rushes inside the five-yard line since 2018. That’s the highest conversion rate in the league. With a .5PPR ADP of 6.09, QB7, Josh Allen has the most affordable ADP of the generally accepted top two QB tiers.
Second-year, incumbent lead back Devin Singletary had a rough training camp, apparently experiencing “fumbling issues” in the team’s short time together. Singletary is a decently talented but undersized running back. Meanwhile rookie dual threat Zack Moss had himself a great camp and checks the boxes of a prototypical running back as far as size and athleticism thresholds go. Although Singletary held his own as a pass catcher in 2019, Moss’s collegiate pass catching resume is far more impressive than Singletary’s was. Looking objectively at the two backs, it’s easy to see the more complete Moss as being the team’s starter and Singletary being relegated to a 1B or even a change of pace role. Therefore, savvy drafters ought to have passed on Singletary’s 6.03, RB25 .5PPR ADP and instead opted for Moss’s 9.08, RB41 .5PPR ADP.
Of Josh Allen’s top notch downfield duo, Stefon Diggs and John Brown, Brown may be the better fantasy pick. Receivers who change teams in the offseason have a notoriously difficult time producing in the box score in the same manner that they had been — at least in their first season with the new team. Given that Diggs isn’t likely to be asked to do much more than be a downfield dynamo, his landing in Buffalo this offseason should be easier than normal. Still though Brown has the established rapport with Allen and his .5PPR 8.02, WR38 ADP is far more palatable than Diggs’ 6.02, WR27. Were Diggs to come off the board after receivers like Jarvis Landry, Michael Gallup, Marquise Brown, and Will Fuller he’d be a great pick. But as it stands, all of those receivers offer more reliable upside and are coming off the board after Stefon Diggs. Both Diggs and Brown are solid flex options who will need to be started in plus matchups against teams like the Jets (twice), Dolphins, Raiders, Cardinals, and Chiefs. But second thoughts will have to be given against teams like the Pats (twice), Titans, Chargers, 49ers, and Steelers.
Cole Beasley quietly had a decent flex season in 2019, finishing as the WR34 in .5PPR. He’s not sexy but he’s been a reliable short-field asset for Josh Allen. Against teams with stout defensive lines and weak secondaries/slot coverage, Beasley will be worth flex starts as Josh Allen’s safety blanket in 2020. The Bills’ slot receiver is going undrafted and can be added when needed for such occasions.
Dawson Knox had a fine developmental rookie season and has drawn positive reviews in training camp. Already a decent pass catcher, coaches were impressed with his blocking improvement which should help keep him on the field on all three downs. Knox is a fine TE-platoon option who can be added off of the waiver wire as needed.
Rookie kicker Tyler Bass is a talented placekicker on a solid offense. He’s a great late round option.
Buffalo’s stifling defense is a great D/ST option. They’re loaded with talent from top to bottom and have great matchups both against hapless offenses and great offenses that will turn games into shootouts, thus upping the potential for sacks and turnovers.