Fantasy Football: Josh Allen Gets a Boost from the Bills' Free Agent Signings
Josh Allen entered the league as a raw prospect. There were plenty of red flags, but he also looked to have the physical tools to become an elite passer. He didn't get much help in his first NFL season, with a lackluster receiver unit spearheaded by Zay Jones.
The first wide receiver addition to this team does most of his damage in the short to intermediate areas of the field. In fact, over 95% of his carer targets have come from within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage.
In 2018, he had an average depth of target (aDOT) of 7.4 yards. That was the seventh-lowest mark among the 84 players with 50 or more targets. Beasley only really offers one thing, but he does that thing well. When targeted near the line of scrimmage, he turns those targets into yards.
There is no player more of a polar opposite from Beasley as John "Smokey" Brown. Before Lamar Jackson started his first game in Week 8, Brown was third in the league in air yards, with 1,160. Only DeSean Jackson and Kenny Stills had a higher aDOT than Brown's 17.3. Neither Jackson nor Stills were within even 250 air yards of Brown.
Brown registered a 0.69 Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target. That is only .07 shy of the average set by all players with an aDOT of 13 or greater and 50 or more targets. Average efficiency at elite volume is a feat for any player.
Brown has shown the ability to sustain tremendous volume with reasonable efficiency and it is mostly generated on deep passes.
Can they Help the Sophomore Passer?
Allen was a notorious risk-taker in his rookie campaign. He led all passers with an 11.2-yard aDOT on attempted passes. That volume didn't come with any sort of efficiency, though.
The main culprit of this inefficiency—outside of Allen himself—was none other than Kelvin Benjamin. Even though Benjamin didn't last the full season in Buffalo, his damage was done. Benjamin ranked dead-last in the league in Target NEP, which measures the expected points added (or removed) from the team's total every time he was targeted. He registered a staggering -30.4.
No player was within even 8.0 points of him. The simple act of targeting Benjamin was a self-destruct button for the Bills. Swapping out Benjamin with Brown will transfer the lest valuable targets able to be thrown into the competent hands of Brown.
Beasley provides less value for Buffalo. Allen's propensity for going long is in direct conflict with Beasley's skill set. The Bills also have an establish intermediary threat in Zay Jones. Last season, Jones was above league-average in catch rate on passes under 10 yards. Where he failed to add value was also on the deeper parts of the field.
Jones is the ideal slot receiver rendering Beasley in a redundant role.
Robert Foster was the final bright spot on the Bills offense last year. With a 22.9-yard aDOT, Foster posted the third-best Reception NEP per target of all players. Only Kareem Hunt and Tyler Lockett bested his 1.13 mark. Foster and Brown blazing down the hashes for Allen to take deep shots on should be a sight to behold in 2019. Then, with the lid off the defense, Jones will be able to maximize his abilities on short routes. Beasley should be no more than insurance on Jones.
Although Brown did find an incredible fit for his speed, he'll still be catching passes from Josh Allen.
Allen's -0.04 passing NEP per drop-back trailed just six other passers in 2018. Much like Foster last season, Brown will have tremendous upside. However, being on the receiving end of Allen passes renders his weekly floor bottomless. He'll also struggle to hit that ceiling often too. With competition from the incumbent Foster, Brown is nothing more than a late-round flyer. The same can be said for Foster and Jones.
Allen, however, may have some sneaky value. Like most Bills, his floor makes him a better selection in Best Ball drafts, but with Brown in the fold, Allen may be attempting more deep balls that are more effective every week. Add in rushing value—Allen averaged over 50 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game as a rookie—and the second-year Bill has all of the makings of a Best Ball value.