2012 Team Outlook: Buffalo
RB Johnny White, --- - Dynasty Only
This second-year back out of the University of North Carolina did not see much playing time in spite of Fred Jackson being relegated to injured reserve before Week 11 last year. If Buffalo had a ton of confidence in him, they wouldn't have signed (and re-signed) Tashard Choice. This is a make or break year for White, who must show he can pass protect and make the most of the limited opportunities he'll receive as a reserve. Inevitably, a running back ahead of him on the depth chart will need a week off at some point and White will be worth keeping an eye on if he earns some playing time.
WR Stevie Johnson, BUF (WR - #27) - Solid/Safe Pick
2011 validated Steve Johnson's status as a bonafide star after a breakout 2010 performance. Johnson now has back-to-back seasons with at least 76 receptions, 1,000-plus receiving yards and seven touchdowns. When the new season begins, Johnson will only be 26 years old and entering his prime. The Bills' roster is chock full of underachieving wide receivers, leaving little competition to steal away targets throughout the regular season. Regardless, he is the team's premiere receiving threat and will make for a very reliable No. 2 WR on your fantasy squad.
Update (8/12): Johnson had a small setback with his persistent groin injury a week ago, but the team feels the little time he missed was merely a precaution.
WR T.J. Graham, BUF (WR - #116) - Dynasty Only
The recurring theme with Buffalo's receiving corps is quantity over quality. If you check out the Bills' official website and look at their roster, they have 11 wide receivers. That number will be whittled down as the Bills shape their final 53-man roster, but it succeeds in displaying that they have an open competition at the position. T.J. Graham's fate is still unclear, but he was not drafted into a favorable situation. A third-round pick out of N.C. State, Graham has the talent and ability to make an impact eventually, the problem is that he must beat out some veterans to earn meaningful playing time. Once he goes through training camp and the preseason, the depth chart will take form and it will be more clear if Graham will make a fantasy impact sooner rather than later.
WR Donald Jones, NE (WR - #73) - Deep-league Only
Injuries limited Donald Jones' impact on the 2011 season, but he's still a very viable candidate to assume the WR2 spot on the depth chart. While David Nelson appears to be Buffalo's slot receiver, Jones will likely be competing with new rookie receiver T.J. Graham out of N.C. State and some incumbents like Naaman Roosevelt, Marcus Easley and Brad Smith. Jones did manage to accumulate a couple of games with good production (five receptions for 101 yards against New England in Week 5, for example) but as it currently stands, the No. 2 WR on this team is still undefined. For now, Jones has the inside track. Fantasy owners should keep in mind this offense can really only support one productive fantasy receiver (Steve Johnson); even if Jones is the starter, his fantasy potential is very low.
Update (8/12): Consider Jones the tentative No. 2 receiver to start alongside Johnson.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
WR Brad Smith, BUF (WR - #107) - Not Draft Worthy
There are certain recognizable players in the NFL who have done enough in auxillary roles to make a name for themselves. Brad Smith is certainly one of those guys. Throughout his career, he's been a wildcat QB, a kick returner and a wide receiver. Unfortunately, that kind of role player really has no business being on your fantasy squad.
WR Derek Hagan, --- (WR - #110) - Low Potential
What is often the case in fantasy football is that fans expect someone to step up. The Buffalo Bills would love to have a wide receiver excel in the No. 2 spot behind Steve Johnson, yet that has not been the case. Derek Hagan has a great opportunity to seize that role. With that said, it's going to take a lot to sway public opinion in his favor. It's not enough to do well for a few games in fantasy football, he must succeed consistently enough to persuade fantasy owners to start him over other established stars.