In two games without Watkins last year, Taylor had two very different performances. Against the Giants, he aired the ball out 42 times, with 28 completions for 274 yards with a touchdown and interception. The next week against the Titans he barely threw the ball. He attempted 17 passes with 10 completions for 109 yards and a touchdown. He averaged less than 200 yards passing when Watkins was out of the lineup even though that’s a small sample size.
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The Cardinals have one of the better secondaries in the league that includes Patrick Peterson and the honey badger Tyrann Mathieu. It’s going to be difficult for him to have a good game with a healthy Watkins, so if Watkins is unable to go he may really struggle. The Bills could become one-dimensional in a hurry if their receivers don’t step up in Watkins absence.
I do expect the Bills to put up a bit of an inspired performance for Rex Ryan, but I wouldn’t start Tyrod Taylor under any circumstances this week. It’s just a bad matchup for the Bills and they are banged up on offense.
On the other hand, Carson Palmer is due to have a big game. This late in his career he reminds me a bit of Ryan Fitzpatrick but with a better arm and he has better weapons around him than Fitzpatrick. Dating back to last season Palmer has put up over 100 QB rating in six of his last seven games.
Fitzpatrick was able to shred the Bills defense for 374 yards last week and it wouldn’t be shocking if Palmer topped that. Sure Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby had uncharacteristically bad games against the Jets but Arizona presents a tougher threat than the Jets.
Don’t get me wrong, the Jets have a great receiving core, but Arizona’s is more dynamic. They can beat you with their height or speed. Larry Fitzgerald is a better slot receiver than Eric Decker. John Brown ran a 4.3 forty time and represents a speed threat that the Jets don’t have. The Bills need to make sure he doesn’t get over the top of them because if he does, he’s gone for a touchdown. Michael Floyd and Jaron Brown are also solid contributors that are reliable receiving threats.
Palmer is the sixth leading quarterback in points in yahoo leagues and you can expect him to put up another solid performance this week. He’s a must start if you have him.
You can find my predictions for the running backs on the next slide.