Projecting Receptions by Position: AFC East

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Buffalo Bills

2017 Totals
Tyrod Taylor: 263 completions on 420 attempts
WR Group: 101 Receptions
RB Group: 91 Receptions
TE Group: 71 Receptions

2018 Projections
Josh Allen: 270 completions on 475 attempts
WR Group: 105 Receptions
RB Group: 90 Receptions
TE Group: 75 Receptions

Yes, I expect Josh Allen to be starting. To see why, we simply have to look at the context; Nathan Peterman was awful in his appearances last year and A.J. McCarron ultimately has about 1/4 of a season’s worth of live game experience under his belt. This isn’t a Cardinals situation with a 1st round rookie competing against an established veteran. This isn’t even a Jets situation with just a glorified backup veteran. This is a 1st round rookie competing against guys who never had the keys to an organization handed to them. For better or for worse, Allen will be under center come week one. What he’ll be starting with, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Kelvin Benjamin has failed to live up to expectations thus far, and there isn’t much of anything behind him. LeSean McCoy is trying for his best Frank Gore imitation, but how much longer can he really keep up a workhorse load? Travaris Cadet is returning and Chris Ivory was brought in, so if those three can all stay healthy this backfield has a shot to return to prominence at least. New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is perfectly happy with a run-first scheme, so they will certainly be given the opportunity. The big question will be whether the run defense can be repaired. The Bills certainly drafted with that in mind, so while Allen will be starting he likely won’t get many opportunities to throw while he adjusts to the pro level. I’m projecting around 475 attempts. Allen struggled with accuracy in college, and since his receiving corps doesn’t look to be in a position to help him I don’t see it increasing by much, with around 270 completions.

Despite the change in offensive coordinator and the associated change in scheme, I see little reason to significantly change the projected target shares from last year. Quite frankly, there just isn’t enough talent on this offense to be able to adjust like that. A full offseason should benefit Benjamin’s comfort level, but who’s going to catch anything behind him? The presumptive WR2 Zay Jones couldn’t stay healthy last year, and even when he was on the field the flashes of brilliance were intermittent. 6th and 7th round WRs most likely won’t fix the problem either. There’s a realistic scenario where we see Andre Holmes or Rod Streator starting opposite Benjamin. Yikes. Without notable help on the outside, expect Daboll to set up RB- and TE-heavy reads for Allen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Charles Clay with a career year(if he can play a full season), and anyone who can catch out of the backfield will likely be given the opportunity.

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