2012 Team Outlook: Buffalo

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2012 Team Outlook: Buffalo

A fantasy football preview of the Bills this year. Profiled players include Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tarvaris Jackson, Vince Young, C.J. Spiller, and Fred Jackson.

Ryan Fitzpatrick can be useful as a fill-in starter for bye weeks or in a pinch if your QB1 is injured, but he shouldn't be considered a regular starter. He began the 2011 season red hot with nine passing touchdowns coming in Buffalo's first three games. After that, he was hit or miss and unreliable during the fantasy playoff season. This inconsistent production limits his upside and should push him into the later rounds. Fitzpatrick is a known commodity now, which should limit many owners from having the opinion he has some untapped potential. Consider him a low-risk, low-end QB2 in 12-team leagues.

Update (8/12): The Bills' offense will likely transition to more spread looks this season which would give Fitzpatrick's more opportunities to throw it around.

The Bills seem interested in keeping the pressure on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Although Jackson has now replaced QB Vince Young, this is still Fitzpatrick's team. Since leaving Minnesota, Jackson had his most productive season in 2011 with the Seattle Seahawks. He had career-high numbers with 3,091 passing yards, 14 TD passes and his 60.2 completion percentage. Unless Fitzpatrick really struggles, Jackson is relegated to being a backup.

When Vince Young and his Texas Longhorns took down USC for the National Championship, the whole world thought he was destined for greatness. Here we are six long years later, Young is on his third team in as many years and now it is the Buffalo Bills who will give him an opportunity to prove himself. Consider Young only penciled in as the No. 2 QB because Ryan Fitzpatrick is not untouchable as the Bills' starter. Young has all of training camp and preseason to earn respect in this new role. Should Fitzpatrick struggle at any point, the media and a good chunk of the fan base will demand to see what Young can do. If Young plays, he has to be on your fantasy radar as a bye week fill-in.

UPDATE (08/27): The Bills have released Young and acquired QB Tarvaris Jackson from the Seattle Seahawks.

C.J. Spiller was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and expectations were very high. They should still be, considering Spiller will only be 25 at the start of season and he's one of the faster backs in the NFL. Once Fred Jackson (the Bills' regular starter) went down for the season before Week 11, Spiller seemed to put it all together. He averaged 105.5 total yards per game in the final six contests of the season to go along with five TDs. Spiller may be Buffalo's No. 2 running back, but he proved last year he can produce when given touches. At his best, Spiller has the natural ability to put up Jamaal Charles-like numbers because of his elite speed. The risk of course is whether or not he will ever be able to fully tap into his talent and potential. A split backfield will hurt his stats, but he could emerge as a serious talent this season.

Update (8/12): The Bills have made it very clear they plan to use Spiller far more often despite of the healthy return of Jackson.

When it was announced that Fred Jackson would be placed on injured reserve last season, he was a Top 5 running back. Through the first 10 games, he averaged 92 rushing yards per game and solid PPR numbers. Despite the late emergence of C.J. Spiller last season, make no mistake, Jackson is Buffalo's lead back. The Bills drafted three offensive linemen this offseason, two of which have a decent shot to begin the year as starters which can only help when he returns. Jackson may be 31 years old, but only he and Dallas' DeMarco Murray had over 150 carries and averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season. Due to his injury, Jackson is a great value selection if he slips into the fifth round.

It wasn't that long ago that Tashard Choice was considered one of the best backup running backs in the league while with the Dallas Cowboys. After being cut by Dallas and a brief stint in Washington, Choice now provides the Bills with game-tested depth. He can contribute on third downs as a receiver out of the backfield and has been reliable running the ball between the tackles (although he lacks top end speed). Choice isn't worth a draft pick in your upcoming fantasy draft. That said, the only way he sees significant playing time is if Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller is seriously injured. Until then, allow Choice to comfortably hold a spot in your league's waiver wire.