Tolbert carried four times for 27 yards in Buffalo's preseason opener Thursday while being targeted once with zero catches. Tolbert looked great while ripping off a 15-yarder, showing some moves uncommon for a guy with his bowling ball size. No. 2 back Jonathan Williams looked even better (four carries for 39 yards), but also suffered a hamstring injury, something that merits watching because Tolbert might currently be the team's third-best option for rushes.
Tolbert has shared first- and second-team reps with Jonathan Williams behind LeSean McCoy though the early stages of training camp, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports. Tolbert has a history with new Bills coach Sean McDermott that dates back to their respective Panthers days, and the Bills are looking for options to keep the lethal McCoy healthy. That likely means someone to do more of the heavy lifting in short-yardage and goal-line situations. While we think Williams would still be the primary tailback if McCoy were sidelined, few in the league have the punishing, downhill rushing style of the veteran Tolbert, so he may be working his way into the mix, or at the very least, could work his way into a position to throw a monkey wrench into the fantasy value of the other two backs.
Tolbert could have a role on passing downs, Joe Buscaglia of WKBW 7 ABC Buffalo reports. The Bills signed Tolbert and fellow fullback Patrick DiMarco at the beginning of free agency, with the latter profiling as a traditional lead blocker, while the former figures to operate more like a specialized backup tailback. Tolbert isn't quick or shifty enough to justify a high volume of carries, but he could be useful for passing downs and short-yardage situations, offering an unusual mix of size, receiving skills and pass-blocking ability. In the event of a LeSean McCoy injury, the Bills likely would turn to Jonathan Williams as the primary ball carrier, with Tolbert then handling most of the passing-down work.
Tolbert signed a contract with the Bills on Wednesday, Mike Rodak of ESPN reports. Tolbert's signing with Buffalo comes as a bit of a surprise, since the team signed fullback Patrick DiMarco earlier in the day Wednesday. However, the Bills are expected to use Tolbert as a short yardage running back rather than a blocking full back. His signing may take some value away from LeSean McCoy. Tolbert had 35 rushes for 114 yards with Carolina last season, and will be 31 years old for the start of the 2017 season.
Tolbert rushed 35 times for 114 yards and caught 10 passes (on 15 targets) for 72 yards and a touchdown in 16 games played this season. Tolbert has long been one of the more utilized fullbacks in the league, giving him unique fantasy value despite his position, particularly given his penchant for finding the end zone. The veteran scored 18 touchdowns in his previous four seasons with the Panthers, but saw his stock fall off significantly with just one trip to pay dirt this term. In truth, Tolbert's overall production mirrored that from 2014, but he did so while playing eight more games this season, evidencing how marginalized he became.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/10||New York Jets||15||17.00|
|7||10/22||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||22||18.75|
|9||11/03||@New York Jets||15||17.00|
|10||11/12||New Orleans Saints||31||21.63|
|11||11/19||@Los Angeles Chargers||27||19.88|
|12||11/26||@Kansas City Chiefs||17||17.59|
|13||12/03||New England Patriots||9||15.26|
|16||12/24||@New England Patriots||9||15.26|