It was a wild, injury-filled second week of the NFL season
Michael Vick returned to the city where he first electrified NFL audiences before his stunning fall from grace and equally stunning climb back to glory. Would he complete his return from scandal and ignominy by leading his team to a dramatic victory over the franchise that discarded him?
As we prepare for Week 2, which teams are for real and which teams are not.
By RALPH VACCHIANO
In 2003, the New England Patriots released popular safety Lawyer Milloy, causing an uproar up in Foxboro, Mass. He promptly signed with the Buffalo Bills, and together they hammered the Pats 31-0 on Opening Day. Tom Brady was picked off four times.
The Patriots looked like their NFL dynasty would never get started. The Bills looked like they had recaptured their glory days.
The Bills finished 6-10 that season. The Patriots finished 14-2 and won the Super Bowl.
An in-depth look at the Bills' offense, defense and special teams this year.
After going winless the first two months of the season, the Bills played .500 football for first-year coach Chan Gailey. Unfortunately, any signs of progress were wiped out by losing the last two games of the year to AFC East rivals New England and New York by a combined score of 72–10.
• Inside the Locker Room
With Leo Roth of Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Will C.J. Spiller break out in his second season?
Yes. Spiller was very underutilized as a running back his rookie year, and second-year head coach Chan Gailey has stated on many occasions that his goal is to get Spiller more touches. With veteran Fred Jackson getting up in age, it’s logical to assume Spiller will take over the role of No. 1 sooner than later.
Can QB Ryan Fitzpatrick improve on his 3,000-yard, 23-TD 2010 season?
Most definitely. With a year in Gailey’s system and his confidence at an all-time high (the Bills passed on drafting a quarterback with the No. 3 pick), Fitzpatrick is well positioned to improve on last season’s impressive numbers. It won’t hurt having a few shorter fields to work with either, now that Buffalo’s front office spent most of the offseason figuring out how to improve the team’s defense.
Is Shawn Nelson or any Buffalo tight end worth drafting?
Buffalo tight ends combined for fewer than 30 catches last year, including three by Nelson, who battled injury and off-field issues. The tight end position hasn't made a meaningful contribution in the passing game for going on a decade, and drafting one is high risk.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: @SD, MIA, DEN
First, the good news: Get to your title game with Bills players and you get a Denver defense ranked 31st vs. the run and 25th vs. the pass in 2010. Now the bad news: You have to get through a Chargers D that was No. 1 vs. the pass and No. 4 vs. the run and a Dolphins D that was No. 8 vs. the pass and No. 7 vs. the run. In your favor: Two of the three playoff games are at Buffalo.
• Athlon Best Bets Sleeper: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Deep-Sleeper: Marcus Easley, WR Overvalued: None Top Rookie: Kelvin Sheppard, LB Bounce-Back: C.J. Spiller, RB Top IDP: Nick Barnett, LB
• Try to Avoid
Chan Gailey seemingly has no use for the position. Not counting Tony Gonzalez's 10-score, 1,058-yard season in 1998, a player he inherited during his prime, the tight end position has combined for 1,884 yards and 21 TDs over eight seasons and five different teams under Gailey's tutelage. That averages out to three scores and 269 yards per season. The tight ends combined for 187 yards and one score last season. WAIT UNTIL: Never
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
The addition of Marcell Dareus should add some much-needed bulk on the line and immediately improve a struggling run defense. Although the secondary finished No. 3 in the NFL in pass defense, Aaron Williams and Da'Norris Searcy will have a chance to contribute. Barring injury to Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller, Johnny White will likely only have a limited role this year.
With free agency’s usual five-month time frame being condensed into five weeks, the phones of both team executives and the players they’re pursuing are about to be set ablaze with constant activity. Some teams would rather lay low, but the ten teams that follow have one available move that would fill a tremendous need, offer roster or cap flexibility, or simply get the fan base excited.