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Bills garner little respect in ESPN fantasy rankings

By Tim Graham

ESPN's fantasy gurus held their annual conference to compile their player ratings for 2012.

The Buffalo Bills didn't get much love on ESPN's Top 300 list.

Fred Jackson is the highest-rated Bills player at No. 34 overall and No. 14 among running backs. ESPN projects he will rush for 1,099 yards and seven touchdowns and catch 40 passes for 382 yards.

Backfield mate C.J. Spiller is ranked the NFL's 81st-best fantasy player and 34th among running backs. ESPN forecasts 645 rushing yards and four touchdowns with 41 catches for 372 yards and a touchdown.

Top target Stevie Johnson came in 60th overall and 23rd among all receivers. He won't record three straight 1,000-yard seasons based on ESPN's guesstimates. Its analysts have him down for 82 receptions and 984 yards with six touchdowns.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is No. 137 in the league and 23rd at quarterback. His projected stat line: 3,357 yards, 21 touchdowns, 20 interceptions.

Most interesting to me was Buffalo's defense/special teams ranking. It's listed 11th with a forecast of 35 sacks, 21 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries and 331 points allowed (103 fewer points than it gave up last year).

Four more Bills made the Top 300 list, and you might be surprised at a couple of them: No. 235 David Nelson, No. 258 Donald Jones, No. 270 Johnny White and No. 295 Marcus Easley.

Easley, entering his third season, hasn't played an NFL down yet. But his forecast is 24 catches for 331 yards and a score.

The biggest omission? Scott Chandler, for sure.

In an obviously honest oversight that's sure to get corrected (not a snub), Chandler, who tied the franchise record for tight ends with six touchdowns last year, didn't rate in the Top 300 or even among the top 71 tight ends.

You know who did make the tight end list? Former Bill and current free agent Shawn Nelson.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |