Delinquent Bill

After another tumultuous off-season for Tampa Bay receiver Mike Williams, the organization has shipped the mercurial player to Buffalo in exchange for a sixth round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.

It was in the cards and only a matter of time.

With Lovie Smith taking over the headset for the Buccaneers and emphasizing  team players and high character individuals, it was only a matter of where Mike Williams would eventually end up.  Now back to together with his collegiate coach, Doug Marrone, and in a city where NFL receivers go to die, Williams will make yet another attempt to get his life turned around and focus on football.

Williams has always had a WR2 talent and  nearly amassed 1,000 yards on two occasions, first as a rookie in 2010 followed by a near-miss in 2012, falling just four yards short that year.  In those two seasons, he managed a total of 20 touchdowns as well.  Clearly he has the talent to be a difference maker in fantasy leagues. He also clearly has the character to find himself suspended or out of the league completely if he can’t keep his nose clean.  Whether stemming from immature behavior or recklessness of those around him, Williams always seems to finds his way into the headlines and continues to flirt with a suspension nearly every season.  Thus far in 2014, it appears as though he’s dodged another bullet but now must find his way on a new team and within a system that doesn’t produce much intrigue for the receiver position.

There have been rumors the Bills may release or trade veteran receiver Stevie Johnson if they managed to land a bigger name in trade or use their ninth overall selection on draft day for a young receiver such as Sammy Watkins or, more likely, Mike Evans.  With young receiver Robert Woods in the fold, the Bills are in need of a bigger presence.  Williams is similarly sized to that of Johnson (6’2″/212), but likely isn’t the acquisition that would lead to his release.

All indications are Williams has fully recovered from the hamstring injury that ended his 2013 campaign.  Whether or not he’s able to overcome his other demons is yet to be seen.  Truth be told, though, he has always been one of my favorite players at the position, quietly putting up respectable numbers as a high-upside WR3.  I usually steer clear of character-flagged players, but I’ve made an exception for Williams.  Now in Buffalo, I’m far less excited about his prospects.

Let’s break down the situation further and focus on other players whose values have been affected:

E.J. Manuel, QB BUF

Manuel has a tenuous hold on the starting quarterback position and there have been rumors the Buffalo brass may seek an upgrade in the draft.  With a greater need at tight end and receiver, I think it’s likely the Bills will tab a young wideout with their ninth overall selection.  More weapons certainly wouldn’t hurt Manuel’s prospects, but he’ll need to make progress regardless of who he is throwing to come September.  Williams, if combined with Johnson and Woods in three-receiver sets, could make for an under-the-radar young receiver trio, but we will withhold any bold predictions until we see something tangible.

Stevie Johnson, WR BUF

As mentioned previously, Johnson was rumored to be on his way out of Buffalo either via trade or acquisition of a younger receiver via the draft.  His status is still clearly up in the air and only the Buffalo coaching staff knows what their intentions are at this juncture.  Johnson is still only 27 years old and has the size and dynamic to be a valuable WR2 in the right situation.  In Buffalo, however,  yardage production fell below the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in four years and his touchdowns have decreased every year during that span.  He clearly needs an upgraded offense to realize any resurgence.

Robert Woods, WR BUF

Woods failed to impress in 2013, but showed signs of NFL potential.  In his rookie year, he compiled 40 receptions, 587 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games. He’ll remain a key piece to the ongoing youth movement in Buffalo and a more productive 2014 should be on tap.  He’s a pure WR3 play at best until he can break through the ice of Buffalo’s offense, a task few have been able to accomplish.  The acquisition of Williams shouldn’t threaten his play count and could open up crossing patterns toward more quality receptions.

T.J. Graham, WR BUF

Graham has a little T.Y. Hilton in him and I’ve watched from afar to see if he could realize the same level of production.  As it stands, it doesn’t look likely, due more to the offensive system and quarterback play, that Graham will rise to any level of prominence in 2014.  As a smaller slot-receiver type of player, it will take the right mix of talent around him to find space and be productive.  Buffalo just isn’t a situation that can make fantasy stars out of smaller players like Graham in all but the rarest of situations.

Marquise Goodwin, WR BUF

The only other receiver of note on the roster is that of Goodwin.  The burner is more of a player in the mold of Devin Hester and isn’t a threat for anything more than the WR4 role in four-wide sets, with his purpose to stretch the field vertically.  Williams will not threaten his role in this case.

Scott Chandler, TE BUF

Chandler is back in Buffalo after not receiving a better offer elsewhere.  He’s a middling player to be started primarily in emergency situations only.  Look for the Bills to address the position at 1.09 (Eric Ebron) or 2.09 (Jace Amaro) during the NFL draft if the opportunity presents itself.  I’ll be shocked if Chandler is the opening day starter.

Buffalo RBs

Fantasy leaguers are getting tired and impatient waiting for C.J. Spiller to realize his potential.  Any receiver additions who can stretch the field or increase passing yardage totals will open up more space for both Spiller and Fred Jackson.  Like most other offensive situations in Buffalo, we’ll believe it when we see it.


The move of Williams opens up a couple of options for the Bucs.  Veteran receiver Louis Murphy is now in town and has a dynamic similar to that of Williams. Youngster Chris Owusu is similarly sized and, while slow to develop during his previous two years, will have a shot to compete.  More intriguing is just what the Bucs will do with their selection in the draft.  With Sammy Watkins likely to be off the board by this selection, they’re in position to take the second best receiver on most boards, that of Mike Evans.  Evans would provide immediate size to the offense and should be penciled in as a day-one starter if selected.  The Bucs also have other needs and may delay a receiver selection until the second round, targeting such names as Kelvin Benjamin, Davante Adams or Jordan Matthews. 

Jeff Haverlack

Jeff Haverlack

Senior Partner / COO at Dynasty League Football
Husband and father who devotes far too much time to Fantasy Football, research, statistics and content development.We created DLF to ultimately assemble the largest fantasy football community on the planet and want YOU to be a part of it.

You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff
Jeff Haverlack

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  1. Leo Paciga

    April 4, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Jeff, if you and I had discussed the Bills WRs back in ’11 and projected out dynasty value to this time line, I’m sure Marcus Easly would have been a major part of that discussion. Sad that he’s not even an after thought now.

    As for this group of Buffalo wide outs, I’ll stay away and let someone else take on the frustration & disappointment.

    • Ethan

      April 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Very true. I would currently be selling everyone, looks like quite a jumbled situation in Buffalo

    • Jeff Haverlack

      April 4, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      You got that right Leo.

  2. Scott O

    April 4, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    The trade is solid for both teams and Williams as the Bills get a starting caliber WR, the Bucs get rid of baggage, and Williams gets a change of scenery.

    • Jeff Haverlack

      April 4, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      I actually like the move quite a bit for Buffalo. I still like Williams but I’m not high on his prospects in Buffalo. But you never know.

  3. Slick

    April 4, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    maybe it is time for DLF to post an article about worst 5 (and best 5) places for WRs aka where their production goes to die…

    just a thought

    of course it is all about value and there is still value to be had in places like buffalo, oakland, jax, etc…

    just goes to show, you cant really do much without a QB. if/when they get that going, then WRs and TE can have legit value.

    back to buffalo – the most intriguing part of this is what their plans are for stevie.
    he is owed too much money to cut and a trade seems unlikely. but crazier things have happened!

    • Jeff Haverlack

      April 4, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      Most poor teams don’t stay poor forever so places like Buffalo, Oakland and New York Jets currently will see a resurgence at some point. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Williams.

      I don’t think the Bills will cut Stevie loose.

      • sixshooter

        April 7, 2014 at 9:05 am

        “Most” teams don’t stay poor for long but I don’t see the end of the rainbow for Oakland…..they must just be content with staying mediocre instead of coming to terms with the fact that they need to rebuild with younger players. Who was the last good fantasy WR from Oakland anyway? Tim Brown? Jerry Rice? That team is a mess which is always a good thing for their Division rivalries!!!

  4. Sensei John Kreese

    April 4, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    As a Bills fan, I see this move as nothing but good for us. I was actually hoping to land Kenny Britt, but this is an even better development. As far as Evans, I believe he will be gone at 9, most likely to the Bucs. Ideally, I think that it would be pretty cool to trade down and pick up Marquise Lee somewhere in the middle of the first round. This way, he could be reunited with his former college teammate, Robert Woods. It wasn’t long ago that Marquise was looked at as a top 10 overall pick.

    • sixshooter

      April 7, 2014 at 9:07 am

      I don’t believe the Bills will look to WR in round 1 after signing Williams but do agree that it was a good thing for Buffalo. As an owner of Woods, I actually hope they stay put at the position now!

  5. Adam

    April 6, 2014 at 5:42 am

    It may be unfair to keep lumping the current Buffalo regime in with previous years. Marone runs an up-tempo offense that can work with the right players. It just takes time when he inherited a weak roster.

    As for the place where WRs go to die….That’s fun to say, but plainly inaccurate; you even pointed out the recent success of Johnson in the same article. And of course Buffalo has produced great WRs historically. From the outside, recent moves make it look like they’re headed back to fantasy, too.

    • Jeff Haverlack

      April 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      I really hope that is the case but unfair or not, until production emerges, I can’t remove the label. There are some things that Marone can’t overcome about the Buffalo situation but I like to think they have a new philosophy that will pay dividends for the Buffalo faithful.

      Unfortunately I think it my statement about receivers there is still largely accurate. Johnson had only one really good WR1 type of year where he caught, as i recall 80 balls and scored 10 TDs, but his production has fallen off since then. He produced some for PPR leagues but he’s best as a WR3 in most cases.

      I do up for a surge in their performance though. There’s something I like about the organization.

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