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The NFL draft has come and gone. We are finally starting to get a clear picture of what the NFL team’s depth charts will look like for this upcoming season. As a dynasty manager, you should be starting to realize just how muddled the running back position has become. Outside of Jonathan Taylor, Najee Harris, and D'Andre Swift, the dynasty running back landscape is tough to distinguish between, and even Harris and Swift have question marks. There is no clear consensus for the position, and with a vaunted 2023 class coming next year, it makes it even harder to identify running backs that you want to acquire for your dynasty rosters. However, the 2023 class isn’t here yet, and we need to win leagues this year. With that in mind, in this series of articles, we will be looking at five crowded running back rooms and just how you should be attacking each this season. Next up is the Buffalo Bills.
Since 2018, the Buffalo Bills will have a new man running their offense. This offseason, former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was hired as the Giant’s new head coach. Under Daboll, the Bills reached new heights as an offense. After a lackluster 2018 season with a rookie quarterback Josh Allen the Bills offense improved considerably. In 2019, the Bills' offense scored 314 points and ranked third. The following year, it all came together for Daboll’s scheme, and in 2020, the Bills offense put up 501 points, good for second in the league, and, in 2021, they scored 483, putting them in third overall. With Daboll leaving, there are more questions than answers regarding Bill’s offensive scheme moving forward.
The Bills chose to promote quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey to offensive coordinator. Dorsey has been the team’s quarterbacks coach since 2019 and their passing game coordinator in 2021. While that serves the passing game well, the key question is how the rushing offense will look under Dorsey. Under Daboll, there were subtle hints that McDermott wasn't happy with the lack of balance within the offense and wanted them to establish a more balanced attack on the ground. That balanced attack is something that we did see more of in the last four games of the season:
Week 15: 27 rushes, 119 yards, 1 TD
Top Fantasy Performer: Devin Singletary RB7, 16.6 FPTs
Week 16: 28 rushes, 114, yards, 1 TD
Top Fantasy Performer: Devin Singletary RB10, 18.8 FPTs
Week 17: 44 rushes, 233, yards, 4 TDs
Top Fantasy Performer: Devin Singletary RB5, 23.0 FPTs
Week 18: 33 rushes, 170 yards, 1 TD
Top Fantasy Performer: Devin Singletary RB3, 25.2 FPTs
The more volume the Bills gave their running backs, the better they finished each week in fantasy. Devin Singletary was an RB1 the last four weeks of the regular season, with top ten finishes each week. While that is a small sample size, it is telling that McDermott was vocal about a more balanced attack before Week 15, then the Bills’ implemented it. With Ken Dorsey being on the staff, it’s easy to assume that the trend will continue in 2022. The Bills’ have selected a day two running back in three of the last four seasons, showing their willingness to use draft capital to find a true RB1. The want is there; the question is will Ken Dorsey’s offensive scheme enable the Bills’ to have a fantasy relevant running back?
Before diving into the depth chart, we have to look at the Bills offensive line. Brian Daboll took offensive line coach Bobby Johnson with him to the New York Giants. Ken Dorsey immediately hired Aaron Kromer as their new offensive line coach. Kromer spent last season out of football but was the Los Angeles Rams run game coordinator and offensive line coach for the four years before that. From 2015 to 2016, he was the Bills offensive line coach. The hiring seems to point all directions toward emphasizing the run game. In his two seasons with the Bills, the team led the NFL in rushing yards. From 2017 to 2020, as the Los Angeles Rams offensive line coach/run game coordinator, the team ranked in the Top 10 for rushing in three of those four seasons.
The Bills also added left guard Rodger Saffold who is coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2021. Adding Saffold to left tackle Dion Dawkins who also earned a Pro Bowl trip, gives them one of the best-left sides in the NFL. The Bills also return veteran center Mitch Morse and brought back right guard Ryan Bates, who can play all five positions, and right tackle Spencer Brown. That all bodes well for the rushing attack. The Bills should have a top fifteen offensive line in 2022 and could find themselves in the top ten.
Josh Allen Effect
Josh Allen’s rushing ability always needs to be considered when looking at the fantasy reliability of the Bills backfield. Last season, the Bills rushing offense finished with 2,209 yards and 20 touchdowns on 461 attempts for an average of 4.8 yards per carry. However, Josh Allen (122 carries, 763 yards, six touchdowns) inflated those statistics. He also had seven rushing attempts inside the five-yard line tying Devin Singletary for the team lead. He saw seventeen carries within the ten-yard line showing that his rushing upside will also be a detriment to the fantasy ceiling of Bills running backs unless they are home-run threats, something that neither Devin Singletary nor Zack Moss has shown to be throughout their respective careers. Josh Allen has not had less than 102 carries in the last three seasons, and it doesn't look like that trend will end anytime soon.
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