2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Free Agency Preview: Buffalo Bills
Published: Feb 23, 2023
Updated: Feb 23, 2023
We hate to say it but the Buffalo Bills probably look back at the 2022 season and wish they had done more in the off-season. Obviously, it wasn’t their fault that their big acquisition, Von Miller, got hurt. But it became fairly apparent that the top teams simply had more firepower at their disposal than Buffalo. The Bills' window to compete and win is squarely open right now so they really shouldn’t leave anything on the table this off-season. That could come in the form of adding a high-caliber wide receiver, a workhorse running back, or both. The wide receiver free agent market isn’t the best we’ve seen but it’s looking more and more as if guys like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery, etc. might actually hit the open market.
With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.
BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value
HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.
SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.
SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.
*Contract information is proved courtesy of Spotrac.com*
Buffalo Bills 2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Preview
Buffalo Bills Quarterback
The Bills have one quarterback under contract for 2023
Josh Allen - age 26
Contract: The Bills extended Josh Allen to a long-term, six year extension that keeps him through 2028. There are outs in his contract starting in 2026.
Outlook: A lot of us might forget how big of a risk it seemed to draft Allen in the first place. And how questionable he looked early on in his career. He had the physical tools but was completely unpolished and was at the VERY bottom of the league his first couple of years. To put it in perspective, if you take every QB that played five games in 2018, his completion percentage of 52.8% was good for QB #39. At 58.8% the following year, that was good for QB #36. For those keeping track at home, there are 32 teams. Saying he made a drastic leap in year three to become the superstar he is would be the understatement of the century.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - If someone is willing to sell you Josh Allen, you do it. And that’s especially true in superflex. This guy basically gives you the passing numbers of Kirk Cousins AND the rushing numbers of an RB like AJ Dillon. That creates such an incredibly safe floor that he’ll likely never leave your lineup in any format. The only concern with mobile QBs is longevity but you almost need to have somebody like that on your team to win modern fantasy football - especially superflex. Not to mention, he has the chops to transition to more of a pocket passer later on.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
The starter is locked in so they really just need to figure out a backup. And, because of the nature of how Allen plays and the “win now” window the Bills are in, backup is incredibly important. If they can’t bring Case Keenum back on an affordable deal, they really should focus on a veteran who is competent to play right away (we saw what that looked like for the Titans when Ryan Tannehill went down and they were scrambling for someone better than Malik Willis). Guys like Teddy Bridgewater, Jacoby Brissett, or Taylor Heineke could be a good fit at the right price.
Buffalo Bills Running Backs
The Bills have two running backs under contract.
Nyheim Hines - age 26
Contract: Nyheim Hines is under contract through 2024. As they acquired him via trade, he could be cut for zero dead cap with $4.79 million in savings.
Outlook: The Nyheim Hines trade might have proved its worth based on the single game vs. the Patriots alone when he ran back not one but two kicks for touchdowns. On the offensive side, his contributions were limited but he’s best utilized on passing downs.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Guys like Hines that can return both punts and kickoffs are important real-life players as that duality frees up a roster spot. That said, the Bills already have another young player that does what Hines does except better on offense. Considering the Bills only have two guys right now, you might be able to pawn Hines off on someone but he likely doesn’t need to be held in leagues that don’t count return yards.
James Cook - age 23
Contract: James Cook was a second-round pick in 2022 so he’s under contract through 2025.
Outlook: James Cook represented a lot of hypothetical upside. I mean, we are talking about a speedy pass catcher who is the brother of NFL star Dalvin Cook. Unfortunately, Devin Singletary dominated the snaps in all phases and actually finished with the sixth most routes run of any back in the league despite missing some time. Cook did look good when he was able to get on the field to spell him or in blowouts but he was still the backup.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - James Cook is in a dangerous position for dynasty leagues. And, if you are a conservative fantasy gamer, you might want to sell (especially in half PPR or standard). Let’s hit the pros and cons quickly.
- Devin Singletary is an unrestricted free agent
- Cook never played special teams (and they even brought in Nyheim Hines) showing that he’s viewed as more of a part of the offense.
- James Cook looked explosive with one of the highest breakaway run rates, per PFF
- He showed real pass-catching prowess in his limited usage there
- He’s undersized
- He struggled in pass pro (graded outside the top 85 backs per PFF)
- Rumors of either signing or drafting a workhorse back
If they sign a guy like Saquon Barkley or Josh Jacobs, he goes wayyy on the back burner. And he might end up as only a third-down back even if they sign or draft a lesser back to utilize on early downs. But he has shown the explosiveness that we like to see and he skews pass-catching so he should have some viability in full PPR. In the end, your decision boils down to how you play this game. I personally am looking to sell right now before free agency if I can get back a second-round rookie pick or better but I’m a conservative player.
Devin Singletary, Taiwan Jones
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
The reality of the situation is this - The Bills cannot proceed with only two backs on the roster. And given that both are undersized pass-down backs, it seems at least one back they add will be a bruiser of some kind. The question is whether they go after a full-time back or a complimentary piece with James Cook as the passing down back. There are plenty of full-time guys available in free agency and the draft like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Bijan Robinson, David Montgomery, Zach Charbonnet, etc. that would be a huge hit to the value of James Cook. Then there are cheaper options like Damien Harris, Jeff Wilson, Jamaal Williams, and DeWayne McBride where it would be more of a split backfield.
Buffalo Bills Wide Receivers
The Bills have four wide receivers under contract for 2023 with two signed to reserve/future deals.
Stefon Diggs - age 29
Contract: The Bills traded for Diggs then signed him to an extension so he’s under contract through 2027. He can’t reasonably be released until at least 2025.
Outlook: Earlier we talked about the massive year three jump for Josh Allen - well, it’s not a coincidence that that’s also the same year Stefon Diggs showed up.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - Dynasty fantasy football has us hyper-sensitive about age but a lot of that stems from the short shelf life of running backs. That makes some folks forget that Diggs is smack in the middle of the age apex for WRs. Here are the top seven PPR seasons all-time per Pro Football Reference with the players’ age:
439.5 points, Cooper Kupp, age 28
414 points, Jerry Rice, age 33
388.2, Antonio Brown, age 27
386.9, Antonio Brown, age 26
385.3, Randy Moss, age 30
384.2, Marvin Harrison, age 30
376.8, Isaac Bruce, age 23
In fact, out of the top 30, only FOUR of those players were younger than 26. And half of them were over 27. Where the age apex for RBs ends, it essentially begins for WRs. If you are competitive now and expect to compete for the next couple of years, Stefon Diggs is the exact kind of guy you want. You only trade a guy like this if you are blowing it up completely and don’t expect to be competitive for multiple years.
Isaiah McKenzie - age 27
Contract: McKenzie is under contract through 2023. He can be released for $300K dead cap with $2.6 mil savings.
Outlook: Isaiah McKenzie technically won the battle for slot snaps but Khalil Shakir also mixed in along with Jamison Crowder and Cole Beasley when they were on the roster.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - This team uses a fullback and blocking tight ends often enough that only two wide receivers can be full-time. So even if he did lead the team in routes run from the slot, he ran 273 fewer routes than Gabriel Davis. And even Davis struggled to be relevant.
Khalil Shakir - age 23
Contract: Khalil Shakir was drafted last year so he’s under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Shakir was in the mix at slot but found himself behind McKenzie. He only played more than 40% of the snaps in two games. Technically he’s the third highest-paid WR on the team right now after McKenzie which is why he’s listed here.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - He’s a fifth-round pick so he was already facing an uphill battle. And the team is more likely to add weapons than they are to shed weapons and give Shakir a bigger role. There was some hype around him that might still be lingering so you might be able to sell but you can probably drop him in more shallow leagues if no one is buying. Day three prospects are tough to sell if they don’t pop early in their career.
Gabriel Davis - age 23
Contract: Davis is under contract for 2023 then he’s an unrestricted free agent
Outlook: We tried to warn you both in 2021 and in 2022 to sell Gabriel Davis. He got the workload this year but just didn’t produce in any sort of consistent fashion.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - You have two options. You can sell him now to someone who still believes in him and cash out before the Bills add another WR. If you don’t do that, you likely need to hold him through this season, regardless of whether they add another WR, and hope that he sees another spike in value when he hits NFL free agency in 2024. He’s been a sell for me this whole time so you know our recommendation.
Dezmon Patmon, KeeSean Johnson
Jamison Crowder, John Brown, Jake Kumerow
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
The Bills have their star split end with Stefon Diggs. They’ve been trying to scrape by at flanker with guys like Emmanuel Sanders, John Brown, and Gabriel Davis. The same goes for the slot. It’s time they went out and got another star opposite Diggs whether that be in the draft or the best available player in free agency. Then you still have McKenzie/Shakir in the slot and Gabe Davis is your versatile “next man up” like he was behind Manny Sanders and Smokey Brown. The window to win is now so they can’t take any more chances.
Buffalo Bills Tight Ends
The Bills have one tight end under contract and one signed to reserve/future contracts.
Dawson Knox - age 26
Contract: Dawson Knox is under contract through 2026.
Outlook: Knox is the definition of a solid, two-way tight end in this league. Knox is a good blocker and a reliable pass catcher. Which is great in real life. In fantasy football, we want a pass catcher that can blow the doors off though. That’s not quite Knox.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - Knox finished as the TE13 in PPR PPG and the TE14 overall. This is fine until you remember that most of the WRs on the team behind Diggs underperformed. That should have been Knox’s window to swoop in and do something big but he really didn’t hand in much more than his typical TD-dependent performances. If our prediction is correct that the Bills load up on weapons, you really are going to want to move Knox before this off-season actually kicks off. Which is in less than three weeks.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
The silver lining for Knox is that he’s clearly locked into that starting job for the foreseeable future. They do need to fill out this tight end room but that will likely include a blocking tight end like bringing back Tommy Sweeney or elevating Quintin Morris. They’ll need to have someone available to operate in a pass-catching capacity if Knox goes down but that could even come in the form of stashing Zach Davidson on the practice squad again (we have to admit, Davidson’s profile did intrigue us when the Vikings drafted him in 2021). The Bills should be able to take care of all that for a reasonable price.
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!
Related Articles and Tools:
- Like & Subscribe to the Fantasy Alarm YouTube Channel!
- Fantasy Football Weekly Player Rankings
- Fantasy Football Weekly Projections