One of the jobs of a good fantasy analyst is not telling readers
who to select in their drafts, but rather to provide them with as
much relevant information as possible to make sound decisions. After
all, they are YOUR fantasy teams.
Change is one of the few constants in this world and the NFL
(and fantasy football, by extension) is no different in that regard.
To that end, it is often helpful to see if we can identify when
and why a particular event took place in the previous season when
looking ahead to the next one. Unfortunately, false narratives
are often created and certain myths are embraced as fact by the
fantasy community for any number of reasons, including but not
limited to wanting the easy answer to be the right answer.
Over the next two weeks, I'll attempt to see if there is there
some level of truth to the narratives and maybe even debunk some
myths while I'm at it. This week, I am taking a closer look at
four situations in the AFC that require more examination since
they had a dramatic effect on how the season played out last year
and figure to interest fantasy owners again in 2020:
What happened to the Buffalo backfield after Devin Singletary
returned from injury? What are the implications of Zack Moss replacing
Frank Gore as Singletary's backfield partner?
It's impossible to know for sure if Singletary's
breakout was on the verge of happening as early as Week 3 last
year because it took only two games upon his Week 7 return from
a hamstring injury to move ahead of Gore
on the depth chart. Regardless, Gore didn't give Buffalo much
of a choice upon his return.
2019 Buffalo RBs (first half of
the season vs. second half)
Over the first eight weeks (seven games), Gore averaged 4.4 yards
per carry and turned two of his seven rushing attempts inside the
5 for touchdowns. He was not setting the world on fire by any means,
but the backfield arrangement made sense - use Gore's no-nonsense
interior running to pound away at defenses and put Singletary in
positions where he could hit the big play. Singletary did an exceptional
job in his role, running for at least 12 yards on seven of his first
10 career carries in Weeks 1 and 2. Interestingly, five of those
seven explosive runs came in the fourth quarter. He did not see
a single carry inside the 10 until November, although it should
be pointed out that he missed three games in that time.
Singletary found himself in the same bit role he left upon his
return, garnering the same 10 carries and six targets in Weeks
7-8 that he did in Weeks 1-2. For whatever reason, OC Brian Daboll
chose Week 9 against Washington to give the youngster his shot.
Whether Singletary's 20 carries in that game was part of a plan
to unleash him in the second half of the season or based the offense
needing a spark following a 13-3 loss to the Eagles in Week 8
is anyone's guess, but Gore made the decision of sticking with
Singletary in that contest and the rest of the way easy by failing
to crack 26 rushing yards in eight of his final nine games (including
the playoff loss to Houston).
GM Brandon Beane suggested in early April that Singletary "definitely
could be the workload guy" if the team didn't use an early pick
at the position. While the No. 86 pick isn't exactly a priority
pick, the fact that it became Moss
is more important. I wrote the following in my predraft analysis
Moss runs with a grudge and isn't overly concerned about
how his body will feel the next day. According to Pro Football
Focus, he ranks second in this draft class in missed forced
tackles with 89 in 2019. For a 222-pound back who runs with
such force and possesses such high-end contact balance, his
vision and ability to change direction (not as in cutting on
a dime so much as he has quick feet) is highly impressive. However,
anyone who pegs him as just a physical runner is selling him
short. He's not going to be a player (who will) flex out as
a receiver very often, but he is a more-than-capable outlet
receiver that will create some chaos in the open field when
defensive backs are forced to tackle him (33 broken tackles
on 66 career catches, per PFF). He won't be among the leaders
in 20-plus yard runs very often, but he'll break the spirit
of the defense regularly.
Singletary did nothing to lose his job as the primary runner
in 2019, but the fact Gore even averaged 9.3 carries (versus Singletary's
16.4) over the second half of the season when he was so unproductive
suggests the Bills want two backs splitting carries and/or the
ability to ride the "hot hand."
Although Gore had the advantage of four more games than Singletary,
it should not come as a surprise if Moss mimics his predecessor
and ends up leading this backfield in rushing attempts, nor should
it be much of a shock if he gives Josh
Allen a run for his money for the team lead in rushing touchdowns.
Moss is being advertised as the back to take over Gore's role,
but he figures to be much more than that. If his body can withstand
the punishment his running style will attract, he is going to
be a significant thorn in Singletary's side for fantasy purposes.
Doug Orth has written for FF Today
since 2006 and been featured in USA Today's Fantasy Football Preview
magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today's hour-long, pre-kickoff
fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears
as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including
Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive". Doug is also a member of the Fantasy
Sports Writers Association.