2020 NFL Team Previews: Buffalo Bills

2020 NFL Team Previews: Buffalo Bills

This article is part of our Team Previews series.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills' stifling defense is a playoff-caliber unit and only getting better. The offense is opportunistic but needs to score more points. Adding wideout Stefon Diggs brings a dynamic element that will optimize Josh Allen's best attributes and should bring the unit up a level.

Offseason Moves

Key Acquisitions

Immediately becomes the team's top pass-catching threat.

A hard-nosed runner who should complement Devin Singletary well.

Could provide a solid red-zone target if he can earn enough snaps as a rookie.

  • K Tyler Bass (Rd. 6, No. 188 – Georgia Southern)

Has a booming leg, but unseating incumbent Stephen Hauschka won't be easy.

Key Losses

Still plugging away at age 37, now with the Jets.

Never lived up to his first-round billing as the No. 19 overall pick in 2016.

The two-time Pro Bowler calls it a career after 15 seasons.

The big man got big money to sign in the desert.

A Look Under the Hood

Head Coach: Sean McDermott (Year 4)

Offensive Coordinator: Brian Daboll (Year 3) - Erhardt-Perkins scheme

Defensive Coordinator: Leslie Frazier (Year 4) - 4-3 scheme

2020 Vegas Projected Wins: 9 (T-9th)

   

2019 Record: 10-6

2019 Points Scored: 314 (23rd)

2019 Points Allowed: 259 (2nd)

2019 Point Differential: +55 (10th)

2019 Run-Play Rate: 45.0 percent (7th)

2019 Situation-Neutral Pace: 30.11 seconds per play (11th)

2019 Offensive Snaps: 1,018 (16th)

2019 PFF O-Line Ranking: No. 21

Full 2019 Team Stats

   

Projected 2020 Depth Chart

QB: Josh Allen / Matt Barkley / Jake Fromm

RB: Devin Singletary / Zack Moss / T.J. Yeldon

WR1: Stefon Diggs / Isaiah McKenzie / Robert Foster

WR2: John Brown / Duke Williams / Gabriel Davis

WR3: Cole Beasley

TE: Dawson Knox / Tyler Kroft

O-Line: LT Dion Dawkins / LG Quinton Spain / C Mitch Morse / RG Jon Feliciano / RT Cody Ford                     (RotoWire Rank: No. 17)

Kicker: Stephen Hauschka / Tyler Bass

Full 2020 Depth Chart

Top Storylines

Star power added to the wideout corps

What can you do when your offense is a little too ordinary? In the case of the Bills, shake things up and make a major move for an extraordinary playmaker. Such was the gutsy trade with the Vikings that netted star receiver Stefon Diggs and cost the team its 2020 first-round pick.

The 26-year-old, who caught a total of 165 passes for Minnesota over the past two seasons, was dealt after completing just two years of a five-year contract extension. What Buffalo gets is an ascending receiver still at the beginning of his prime years who clearly tops the team's wideout depth chart.

Over the course of his career, the 2015 fifth-rounder has made a major transformation from being more of a possession type of receiver to becoming one of the league's top deep threats. Can he continue his momentum in a new offense, a new team and with a new quarterback? All of the signs point to yes.

Diggs shattered his career best with 17.9 yards per reception last year, which tied him with Breshad Perriman for fourth-best in the entire league. This is notable for the Bills because of the immense arm strength QB Josh Allen possesses and the team's need to put more points on the board. Pushing the ball downfield to both Diggs and incumbent burner John Brown should generate more chunk plays on offense, which would be just the game changer to catapult Buffalo into real contention in the NFL.

The Defense Doesn't Rest

The team-centered defensive philosophy of the Bills is core to their resurgence and a key element in the franchise's emergence as a playoff contender. In 2018, the unit ranked second overall in the league thanks to a top-flight pass defense, but at the same time it was only 16th against the run and 18th in points allowed.

The 2019 version of the defense slipped a notch to No. 3 but was arguably better than the year before by only allowing 16.2 points per game, which was good for second best in the NFL.

The 2020 squad feels the losses of Shaq Lawson, Lorenzo Alexander and Jordan Phillips, but new additions actually may increase the team's talent level and bump up its ceiling. Edge rusher A.J. Epenesa was widely seen as a steal in the second round of the draft and his selection could produce immediate results. Veteran linebackers Mario Addison, A.J. Klein and Tyler Matakevich were added in free agency and should increase effectiveness at the second level.

The team also beefed up the defensive line by agreeing to contracts with Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson. Perhaps the most intriguing free-agent signing is cornerback Josh Norman, who arrives on a one-year deal. He reunites with coach Sean McDermott, with whom he earned his only Pro Bowl appearance.

AFC Beast

The Bills are poised to compete for a division title this season, and a lot of the credit goes to the team's exceptional defense and the deep-strike capability of the passing game. However, the meat and potatoes of the Bills' resurgence is the strength of the ground attack.

In addition to the contributions of their running backs, one key element that can't be overlooked is the rushing effectiveness of quarterback Josh Allen. In his first two years in the league, he's accounted for 1,141 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground.

Meanwhile, the emergence of running back Devin Singletary in his rookie season last year bodes well for continued growth by the team's attack in 2020. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry, which was the highest among all backs with at least 150 carries. Plus, he got stronger as the 2019 campaign wore on. From Weeks 11-16, Singletary led all rookies with 549 yards from scrimmage.

With the Bills saying goodbye to veteran Frank Gore and hello to rookie third-round pick Zack Moss, more youth has been injected into the team's backfield. With the Patriots no longer looking invincible, this could be the first year since 2008 that the AFC East crowns a new champ, and the Bills hope to run away with things once the coming season starts.

Devin Singletary may have to split work with rookie Zack Moss out of the Bills backfield.

Barometer

⬆️ Rising: QB Josh Allen

Things appear to be lined up for Allen to take a step forward in 2020. The team's receivers, running game, O-line and play calling are all coming together at just the right moment for the QB to break out.

⬇️ Falling: WR John Brown

Brown rewarded the fantasy community's long-standing affection for him with a strong year in 2019, en route to logging 1,060 receiving yards. Though he'll still serve a key role in the offense, he'll also take a back seat to Stefon Diggs.

😴 Sleeper: RB Zack Moss

Devin Singletary still should head into the season as the No. 1 back, but Moss, who effectively replaces Frank Gore, has enough of a pedigree to make a case for Buffalo's backfield to turn into a 1A-1B setup.

🌟 Pivotal Player: Josh Allen

Allen improved in almost every way during his second year in the NFL. A notable exception to that trend was his intended yards per pass attempt, which dropped from 11.0 to 9.4. Combined with a low interception rate, you could say he was playing it safe. One might also say this shows great potential for another leap forward in Year 3.

Josh Allen's ability as a runner offsets his deficiencies as a passer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave McKay
Dave McKay is a former ESPN producer and currently the publisher of TheFantasySportsBrain.com. He is focused primarily on strategy in fantasy sports. Dave is from Baltimore and roots for the Ravens, Orioles, and the Detroit Pistons.
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