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Dynasty-Fantasy Football Analysis – 2017 Preseason Wk 1: Vikings v. Bills

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*Lots of games to cover and moving faster than editors can keep up with, so forgive any typos, etc. 2,000+ word articles on preseason games ain’t easy. Going for quantity over quality to get the news out ASAP.

 

I’m pretty sure the Buffalo Bills are my new favorite team. Someone send me some gear to wear.

Obviously, the recap of this preseason game doesn’t compare to the fireworks set off by the trades Buffalo pulled off Friday. Let’s get to that first because that’s what matters most today/for the fantasy season…

There are rarely trades made in the NFL unless it involves swapping of draft picks, or swapping of a late pick for veteran about to be cut, or something the New England Patriots are doing to pickpocket another team…usually involving them sending a draft pick for the other teams established player. The Bills made two major deals today. There are teams who haven’t made two major deals in a decade+.

There is a new wheeler and dealer in town – Sean McDermott. A new Bill Belichick style right down to the lack of personality he gives to the media…because he knows they are working against him (and all coaches…and all Americans). Ladies and Gentlemen, get ready for the Buffalo Bills to be an NFL power soon…way sooner than anyone thought. Not a good team, but a perennial playoff team. If not for the Patriots in the same division, Buffalo might be dominant ahead. Not now, there’s still work to do (at QB), but soon the Bills will be a force.

I’ve written about this for months – Sean McDermott is really changing a culture…not just the nonsensical ‘culture change’ you always hear new coaches spout off. This is real. He’s breaking down the conventional head coach stuff and making things happen. Stone Cold Sean McDermott – a finance background. Worked his way up the football chain adeptly. In a league full of coaches that look like they came out of central casting for head coaches – Sean McDermott is different. So different that Bills ownership has basically handed him the organization.

McDermott has been executing people in Buffalo this year like an infamous Godfather movie scene. As soon as the draft ended, he whacked useless GM Doug Whaley. When almost all the other teams extended the contract option on their top 2014 draft picks – McDermott denied Sammy Watkins an option as the NFL intelligentsia clutched their pearls…an incredibly radical move to diss media-beloved Watkins. Now McDermott does them one better – he just gives away Sammy Watkins for whatever he can get. That’s brass balls. The football analysts worship Sammy Watkins. Sean McDermott spit right in their faces…twice.

McDermott has jettisoned Rex Ryan loose cannons all year and is making over the team in his image. Cardale Jones…gave up on him quickly. E.J. Manuel…gone. Zach Brown, leading tackler…gone. Corey Graham, gone. Ronald Darby traded today. Who is he signing? Hard workers, and/or under the radar guys, and/or undervalued players wanting a chance – Andre Holmes, Marcus Cromartie, Gerald Hodges, Sam Barrington, Anquan Boldin. He drafts ‘workers’, professionals – Zay Jones, Dion Dawkins, Nathan Peterman.

Today, he exchanged Sammy Watkins for Jordan Matthews, in a sense. Slick, media hyped WR, who has been mostly a disappointment in exchange for the more productive, maligned by the media pro’s pro WR. Look at the two deals today in total and look how brilliant…

Buffalo gets – Jordan Matthews, PHI 3rd pick 2018, LAR 2nd pick 2018, E.J. Gaines

FOR

Buffalo gives – Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby, BUF 6th round pick 2018

I love it.

Dealing like this doesn’t happen…ever. Not even the Patriots are this radical. Buffalo is about to change it’s image and might take over the NFL in a few years IF McDermott can put a cherry on top of this and find a franchise QB.

Note – McDermott’s ties run deep in Philly. He might have had an advantage of intel on the Matthews’ deal.

Also, note – LeSean McCoy popped off his mouth about not being thrilled by the trading and that Watkins is better than JMatt. Don’t be surprised if McCoy isn’t next in the hit parade. Expensive running backs aren’t worth the payroll. If I were running the Bills, I’d see whether McCoy could get me a franchise QB or a shutdown corner.

I’ve been studying McDermott more the past week. Watching tape of his practices, mic’d up. I never hear a curse word or hear him screaming. He’s logical. He’s direct. He’s in top physical shape. He doesn’t mess around. Teams take on their coach’s personality…like the Bills under Rex. The Bills are about to become calculating, professional…and successful.

Now onto the game notes…

— The first 3-4 passes of the game for Buffalo all went to Sammy Watkins (4-39-0/5), right in a row. No sense commenting on it…he’s gone. Is there a drop off with Jordan Matthews? I’ve never thought so. I thought Matthews would be the best WR in the 2014 class up there with Brandin Cooks. Matthews has size, better athleticism, and is a constant worker – and works over the middle where most WRs fear to roam. Watkins used to like to streak down the sidelines, he wasn’t as much of a grinder in traffic taking hits. In the end, Buffalo is better off with Matthews…who will be mentoring Zay Jones. Probably part of the reason a deal was made.

Think about it…why did Sean McDermott immediately work to rid himself of Watkins? He kept McCoy and Tyrod…why was Watkins a target? There has to be something about the work ethic and heart or something behind the scenes. I’ve heard rumors as such. McDermott is bringing in professionals and that’s going to pay off in the long run.

— Who started opposite Watkins in this game? Andre Holmes (1 target). That’s a nice step forward, a show of confidence for Holmes. Not sure it means a ton for fantasy with Tyrod and a bunch of talented WRs to work. But it is ‘stock up’ on Holmes to some degree. He’s talented and been buried in Oakland.

— Minnesota was involved in this game as well, I think…actually, they won it. The Vikings represent the opposite of my Bills love affair. Old school, over bearing coach(es) ruining the talent. The topper being they are pushing a moderate talent rookie RB as a god.

The Vikings offense is horrible – the new worst in the league since Jeff Fisher left. Sam Bradford (5-7 for 35 yards) is never not Sam Bradford. He is dump pass after dump pass. He may be the first QB to complete 80% of his passes in a season in 2017…all under five yards on every throw.

I saw nothing unique or ‘wow’ about Dalvin Cook (5-13-0, 4-30-0/4 targets) here. He’s a weak runner and has so-so/capable hands for the passing game. He caught 4 passes though!! So did Bishop Sankey (4-14-0, 4-15-0/5) who I didn’t realize was still in football until last night.

Tyrod Taylor (5-8 for 46 yards) is no gem at QB either, but at least he isn’t playing scared like Bradford and can run the ball. He needs to run because his arm/his passes were floating all over in this new passing game. My Bills have to do better to take the next step.

Nathan Peterman (13-25 for 112 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) is not that answer, but I have a feeling he will be given the first chance to be. Peterman is scrappy and follows the playbook but does not have that extra ‘it’ factor. I saw his downside on tape at Pitt and watching him at the Senior Bowl. Capable…in a Chase Daniel sort of way.

Logan Thomas (2-22-0/5) looks like a real tight end. Good for him! The conversion was a long time coming. One to watch getting some action this year…a pretty athletic TE…a former mobile QB.

— Two IDPs stood out to me in this game… One guy, I knew — the other I didn’t.

My Bills have UDFA safety Trae Elston (6 tackles, 1 PD) – a name that didn’t ring a bell, but a name I kept seeing all game and catching my attention. He’s a worker as is Eddie Yarborough (3 tackles, 1 sack), who had a nice night.

Vikings’ rookie Eric Wilson (7 tackles, 2 PDs) was our top ILB prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft…and he went undrafted. He played a nice game in his debut here. Hard to see him getting playing time in 2017 with a deep Vikings LB group.

— Speaking of defense – the Bills’ 1st team D was energetic, aggressive, controlled, and successful. I was very impressed with what I saw. Another reason to love the Bills for 2017 being better than predicted.

Buffalo’s O/U Vegas win total is usually 6.0. I like the over there even more today.

 

 

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 — rc@fantasyfootballmetrics.com

 

 

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics, and College Football Metrics. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.”

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