Tyrod Taylor might have been surprised to have returned to Buffalo this year, but he was probably more surprised (and perhaps angry) that Sammy Watkins was traded away from the Bills. Following that move plus another deal that brought receiver Jordan Matthews to Buffalo, Taylor finds himself at the helm of an offense with his top targets including Matthews, rookie Zay Jones and veteran Anquan Boldin. Not so great. Taylor finished 2016 as the No. 18 Fantasy quarterback, but he scored at least 20 Fantasy points in a standard league in seven of 15 starts. He also had at least 17 Fantasy points in three other games, so he only really struggled for five games on the year. But in order for him to match that productivity, he'll need his receivers -- all of whom are new to Buffalo this year -- to play at their absolute highest levels. That's asking for a lot. In typical Fantasy leagues, Taylor is no better than a late-round pick. In formats that score only four points for passing touchdowns, Taylor gets a slight bump since his rushing scores will result in a few more points. He'll be found toward the middle of league drafts where two quarterbacks can start for a team.
According to coach Sean McDermott, Taylor is anticipated to start Week 1 of the regular season, Joe Buscaglia of ABC 7 Buffalo reports. Taylor is coming off a poor, two-interception outing in Buffalo's preseason loss to the Eagles on Thursday, which raised some concerns going into this season. Although the Bills have been reluctant to embrace Taylor as their starting quarterback long term, McDermott revealed he'll take the entirety of the first-team snaps in next weekend's dress rehearsal, when he'll ideally play a series into the third quarter. With that support, Taylor shouldn't be worried about his standing, yet he'll be focused on sharpening his performance to avoid any further questioning.
Bills coach Sean McDermott said he is not considering replacing Taylor as the starting quarterback, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News reports. Taylor's ugly, two-pick performance in Thursday's contest may have led to some whispers, but the Bills aren't going to consider a quarterback change based on one ugly preseason outing that occurred less than a week after the team traded its best receiver. Taylor could still find himself on the hot seat during the regular season, as Buffalo may want to see what it has in fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman if a playoff appearance doesn't seem realistic. Peterman completed 10 of 20 passes for 169 yards in Thursday's game, leading the team to a pair of field goals on five drives.
Taylor completed eight of 18 passes for 53 yards and tossed a pair of interceptions in Thursday's preseason game against the Eagles. Taylor's first pick came on a screen pass that was batted up in the air by a blitzing safety, but the second interception was just a bad throw directly to former teammate Ronald Darby, who had already dropped a potential pick-six earlier in the game. In Taylor's defense, he was playing against one of the most talented front sevens in the league, without the help of recent acquisition Jordan Matthews (sternum). It was still a surprisingly poor performance, considering the 28-year-old tossed only 12 picks in 29 starts the past two seasons. While his initial returns without Sammy Watkins were unquestionably ugly, Taylor mostly got by fine in the past when his oft-injured favorite target was unavailable.
The Bills dealt Taylor's teammate Sammy Watkins to the Rams on Friday, but acquired veteran Jordan Matthews in a separate deal with the Eagles. Taylor is an intriguing fantasy play because of his ability to pick up points on the run, plus he should be allowed to do more in Rick Dennison's new offense. However, a lot is being thrown at Taylor, who the Bills have yet to make a long-term commitment to. Each of the top six wide receivers on the team are new, with only Anquan Boldin having any familiarity at all with Taylor stemming from when the latter backed up Joe Flacco in Baltimore. The Bills are clearly in rebuild mode, so Taylor better prove to be an asset quickly or the team could start taking a look at someone like Nathan Peterman if the playoffs get out of reach. Taylor still offers upside and is the clear-cut starter, but it would certainly help if he starts the season off strong and the Bills at least remain competitive.
Taylor completed five of eight passes for 46 yards during Thursday's preseason opener against the Vikings. Taylor's stat line obviously doesn't jump off the page, but he did key in on Sammy Watkins for three completions during Buffalo's first drive, and then the two connected on a nine-yard pass to put the Bills in position to kick a field goal late in the first quarter. Watkins staying healthy and productive will be a significant boon to Taylor's fantasy value, and it's encouraging that the duo is showing chemistry again in game action. While Taylor projects as a middling quarterback option in the majority of settings, this will be his third season at the helm of the offense, and he offers sneaky upside with his legs. He's rushed for 1,148 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past two years, after all.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/10||New York Jets||21||20.88|
|7||10/22||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||18||19.81|
|9||11/03||@New York Jets||21||20.88|
|10||11/12||New Orleans Saints||23||21.31|
|11||11/19||@Los Angeles Chargers||15||19.50|
|12||11/26||@Kansas City Chiefs||9||18.47|
|13||12/03||New England Patriots||12||18.84|
|16||12/24||@New England Patriots||12||18.84|
|3 Year Avg||62.5||2019||12||4||382||3||206|