Buffalo Bills fantasy football: LeSean McCoy worth a first round pick?


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Heading into the 2014 NFL season, LeSean McCoy was the darling of the fantasy football world. Being picked first in most drafts, McCoy’s fantasy prospects were through the roof heading into his second year under Chip Kelly’s leadership. In 2013, McCoy ran for over 1,600 yards, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He also added 52 receptions for another 539 yards on his way to leading the league in yards from scrimmage.

However, by the time last season ended, many owners who had drafted McCoy with their first pick were left with a bad taste in their mouths. Although he rushed for 1,323 yards, he only scored five touchdowns, and also recorded a career low 28 receptions. On the surface, McCoy’s utilization in the rushing game wasn’t overly burdened by the addition of Darren Sproles, but it just seemed like when a big play was there to be made, it was Sproles providing the highlight. ProFootballFocus rated McCoy as their 55th highest running back for 2014, a dramatic fall from 2013 where he was atop the rankings. Here are McCoy’s PFF rankings since 2010, counting players who were involved in at least 25% of their team’s snaps:

2010 – 12th

2011 – 19th

2012 – 10th

2013 – 1st

2014 – 55th

The numbers would suggest that on the average, McCoy was essentially a top ten running back from 2010-2013. In my view, the biggest disappointment in McCoy’s 2014 season was his complete disappearance in the passing game; an area where he traditionally excelled from a real life and fantasy perspective alike. He went from averaging 33.7 receiving yards per game in 2013 to only 9.7 yards per game in 2014. On the rushing side, McCoy averaged 19.6 carries per game in 2013 versus 19.5 carries per game in 2014. He also recorded only two fewer rushing attempts in 2014 than he did in 2013. The volume in the running game was not the issue; evident by the fact that McCoy still ranked 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards.

ProFootballFocus advanced ratings for running backs show that in 2014 both Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde had negative Pass ratings in Greg Roman’s 49ers offense.  In fact, Gore and Hyde ranked 39th and 42nd respectively in Pass rating for running backs that played in at least 25% of their respective team’s snaps. Gore also ranked a lowly 51st in the same category during the 2013 campaign. Continued uncertainty at Buffalo’s quarterback position, coupled with Greg Roman lead offenses not being overly friendly to running backs in the passing game, does not bode well for McCoy’s receiving prospects this year.

Do these facts put McCoy into the first round fantasy discussion? Will he revert back towards the mean of his 2010-2013 stretch where he was a borderline top ten back? As a Bills fan, it is hard to keep emotional ties to the team separated from making the smart decision during a fantasy football draft. Even in a league with 12-14 teams, I would only consider drafting McCoy near the end of the first round. As a fantasy football team owner, I will let someone else take the risk of grasping for top ten production from “Shady” in 2015. As a Bills fan, I certainly hope he makes whoever drafts him look very smart.

Next: Buffalo Bills Circling the Wagons: Greg Roman, Aaron Kromer

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