Preseason prognosticators think very little of the Buffalo Bills' chances this season.
Little is different about predictions for the Bills' fantasy relevance.
Buffalo was 30th on offense in 2009 thanks mainly to a porous offensive line and inconsistent quarterbacking. The offense has finished in the bottom eight in the past seven seasons.
That doesn't equate to productive fantasy seasons and most certainly is the primary factor in the poor rankings of Buffalo players.
Here's a breakdown of the Bills who play relevant fantasy positions.
Trent Edwards: Consistently ranked either 31st or 32nd by the major fantasy Web sites, meaning he's among the worst options for starting quarterbacks.
"If you're looking for fantasy quarterbacks, stay away from Buffalo at all costs," reads part of Edwards' profile in Sports Illustrated's 2010 draft kit.
While his preseason numbers -- 68.3 completion percentage, 370 yards, two touchdowns -- were good, there is nothing to suggest Edwards should be anything more than a reserve fantasy QB.
The question every fantasy player has about the Bills deals with how the team will divide carries among its three backs. The ground game should be the strength of Buffalo's offense, but depth at the position means each running back comes with risks.
C.J. Spiller: He's electrified fans with some of his preseason runs, but also frustrated coaches against the Bengals with runs of minus-7 and minus-11 yards. He's currently listed as No. 1 on the depth chart, but that might not mean much. Spiller clearly has the most potential of the Bills' backs. He's ranked No. 31 among running backs by ESPN.
"It seems likely that the Bills will use Spiller as a big-play guy: split wide, in the slot, perhaps even in the wildcat," ESPN's profile reads. "With his insane quickness and excellent speed, he'll make some big plays. But he won't touch the ball enough to be an every-week fantasy starter."
Fred Jackson: A broken hand in the first preseason game further complicates Jackson's fantasy value. He appears to be on track for the season opener Sunday, but likely will not be 100 percent. That means limited carries. Jackson, who is rated 36th by ESPN, was supposed to be the starter for the Bills, meaning he would see the bulk of the carries. He'll have to work hard to get that position back after his injury. A repeat of his 1,000-yard season in 2009 might be too much to ask based on the competition for carries.
Marshawn Lynch: The best hope for Lynch is that he gets some goal-line carries since he's a bruising back. If that doesn't happen, his fantasy value is minimal. He is a good sleeper, though, for the early weeks, at least until Jackson proves he is back to 100 percent.
Lee Evans: He's the only receiver with any fantasy value, but Evans has a hat trick of bad news working against him. First, there is no other established threat at receiver on the roster, meaning Evans is sure to face multiple double teams. Second, the Bills' strength should be their running game. And third, quarterback Edwards isn't exactly known as a gunslinger. Evans' strength is his ability to get down the field for the deep ball, but there are serious questions as to whether the offensive line will protect well enough to allow that play to develop. Evans is ranked 32nd by ESPN and 38th by Sports Illustrated. As the unquestioned No. 1 receiver in Buffalo, those numbers could be low if the Bills' offense exceeds expectations. No other receiver on the Bills' roster deserves fantasy consideration.
Shawn Nelson: Any value Nelson had was lost when he was suspended for the first four weeks of the regular season. He would have been the deepest of sleepers to start with. The Bills' other tight ends, Jonathan Stupar and David Martin, have no fantasy value.
The Bills' return game once again looks as if it has big-play potential with Roscoe Parrish on punts and Spiller and Leodis McKelvin on kick-return duty. That would account for most of the team's fantasy appeal, since the switch to the 3-4 makes the defense a big question mark. The Bills will be hard-pressed to match last season's total of 28 interceptions, although with INT returns for touchdowns in three straight games in the preseason, the potential is there. The bigger question remains up front, where the Bills need to prove they can stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback. Until they do that, there are better options on defense.
Rian Lindell: He put up a solid 108 points on a bad offense last season, even more impressive considering the conditions he kicks in. Lindell is ranked 17th by ESPN and 18th by Sports Illustrated, but given the fickle nature of the position could easily be one of the top 12 or 14 kickers. That would give him starting fantasy value. If you're looking for a Bill at the end of your draft, Lindell is a safe option.
The depth of football talent in Western New York is beginning to show itself at the game's highest level. Four local players were selected in April's NFL draft, and a couple of them have a chance to make an immediate impact.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England: One of three Gronkowski brothers currently in the NFL, Rob had seven catches in the first three preseason games. More important, three of those went for touchdowns. If he can become a favorite of quarterback Tom Brady in the red zone, Gronkowski has a chance to be a fantasy sleeper. He should be monitored on the waiver wire.
Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay: The Riverside product has shot up the fantasy rankings the same way he did the Bucs' depth chart. Williams is shaping up to be the steal of the draft in the fourth round. Bucs coach Raheem Morris said Williams even reminds him of a young Larry Fitzgerald. That's high praise. Don't expect Fitzgerald-type numbers, but Williams is certainly worth a roster spot, as it looks like he'll be the No. 1 receiver for quarterback Josh Freeman.