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Eyes of the Guru Preseason Part 5: AFC East

An overview of defenses in the AFC East with an emphasis on individual defensive players and their fantasy value.

Buffalo Bills

Defensive Linemen

The Bills defense was all over the place in 2015. They were middle of the pack in yards allowed versus both the pass and run. Their 17 interceptions were sixth most in the league but their 21 sacks ranked thirty first. They could not even settle on which scheme to use. Early in the season it was mostly Rex Ryan's 3-4. When some key players complained and basically refused to buy in, the coaching staff started mixing in a lot of Jim Schwartz 4-3 looks as a sort of compromise. The results were actually pretty good as Buffalo finished strong against the Cowboys and Jets. No more says Ryan though. He described last year's blending of schemes as sort of like being "half pregnant" and proclaimed the 2016 Bills will run his defense. He went on to say any player not willing to buy in would not be part of the team. Ryan drew his line in the sand. As a result Mario Williams is now with the Dolphins and we know the Bills are going to be a fully pregnant 3-4 defense this year.

We know how the Bills will line up this season but figuring out the fantasy value of their defensive linemen may prove to be a challenge. As 4-3 tackles both Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams were studs. In 2013 and 2014 Dareus put together back to back seasons as the number two interior lineman. Over those two years he averaged roughly 41-20-8 with a pair of forced fumbles and 4 batted passes. Dareus lines up at nose tackle in Ryan's three man front. At 6'3" 331 pounds he can be a great fit at the position but the nature of the scheme will make it tough to keep up the level of production, at least when it comes to sacks. He was right on pace with 38 tackles in 2015 but Dareus was only able to take down a passer twice. At 38-13-2 he still had some value but dropped all the way to number twelve. Dareus should continue to give us strong tackles totals and I expect a little rebound in his pass rush numbers. At a position where quality production is rather scarce, 40 tackles, 15 assists and 3-5 sacks is a big deal. I like his chances of getting back into the top ten but will be surprised if Dareus makes the top five again.


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