Faceoff - RB Willis McGahee, Buffalo Bills
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Upside - by Clayton Gray
Willis McGahee is all about the upside in 2006. Of course his 2005 campaign was very disappointing, but it was likely his fantasy floor. Lots of things went wrong for him and the Bills, but McGahee still crossed the 1200-yards rushing mark and totaled more than 1400 yards from scrimmage. Despite his struggles, McGahee finished as the #13 fantasy back in 2005. Looking at the latest ADP data, McGahee is #13 RB off the board. That tells us we are able to take a second round back whose floor is his current draft slot.
:insert big oh my goodness eyes here:
There are other reasons to like McGahee:
- He is the offense. The QBs and WRs are suspect, so the offense will run through McGahee. While poor QB and WR play is generally bad news, things were much the same in 2005 when McGahee hit his fantasy floor.
- He has almost zero competition for carries. McGahee will come off the field for a breather, but thatís about it. He was even the leading pass-catcher among Buffalo RBs last season. He is their horse.
Another huge plus for McGahee is his strength of schedule. He has six easy opponents and only a single tough opponent (which is week 17). His schedule expects to be 7.7% easier this season compared to 2005. He is truly primed to make good on his 2005 expectations.
Winning fantasy football is all about drafting fewer players that underperform their draft slot while taking more players that outperform (or at least perform to) their draft slot. The 2006 version of McGahee is definitely the latter.
Downside - by Mark Wimer
Willis McGahee (325/1247/5 rushing and 28/178/0 receiving last season) scored only 1 TD during his final 10 contests last year. He finished 2005 held to under 100 yards rushing per game in 7 straight games (until a 22/113/0 rushing and 2/22/0 receiving effort during the meaningless week 17 game vs. the Jets, which had no fantasy significance for most of his owners). How did he respond to his dismal second half? Why, he agitated for a renegotiated contract and then held out of non-mandatory OTAs during the offseason, of course Ė while the Bills worked on installing the new offense with their new coaching staff (headed by Dick Jauron).
Color me unimpressed.
The Billís QB situation is unsettled at best, the team is struggling to find a complementary #2 WR across from Lee Evans, and the rushing offense averaged 3.8 yards per carry last season (tied for 20th in the NFL). This is not a pretty picture, folks.
During coach Jauronís tenure in Chicago, the Bearsí rushing offense ranked 26th (with 1387 yards rushing) during 1999; 21st (1736 yards) during 2000; 17th (1742 yards) during 2001; 32nd (1344 yards) during 2002; and 16th (1865 yards) during 2003. In other words, the Bears were never among the above-average (let alone elite) rushing teams during his years at the helm.
So, to sum up, we have here before us an underperforming running back coming off a horrible 2nd half of 2005, who has skipped the voluntary OTAs with the new coaching staff Ė and heís getting set to play under a head coach with an undistinguished record as far as the rushing phase of the game is concerned. I donít see much reason for optimism in this situation.
Iíll pass on McGahee, thanks anyway.