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Is LeSean McCoy in a Better or Worse Situation Under Rex Ryan's Bills?

Outside of Adrian Peterson, there is no trickier running back to attempt to predict their success in 2015 than LeSean McCoy. No longer is Shady in Philadelphia, as he now plays for the Buffalo Bills and head coach Rex Ryan.

The big question surrounding McCoy is how he will fare on a new team with a new coach, and to make it easier to digest, I will break it down into two simple categories; the good news and the bad news.

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The Good News

The good news for LeSean McCoy is that Rex Ryan makes his money on running the ball. As head coach of the New York Jets for six years, Ryan averaged 513 rushing attempts per season. Under his direction the Jets ranked in the top five for total rushing attempts four times and never ranked below 16th in the other two seasons. While the media makes a big deal about “Rex Ryan defenses”, his brand on offense is running the ball.

Additionally, Ryan is very crafty when it comes to getting the best out of his running backs, as he has never had a go-to, elite, franchise back. Quite the opposite, Ryan has gotten the most out of a 31 year old Thomas Jones, a 31 year old LaDainian Tomlinson, a washed up Chris Johnson and second-string caliber running backs like Shonn Greene, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell.

More amazingly, Ryan with the exception of the 2011 season, has also managed to make his team rank above 16th in total rushing yards per season, even ranking 1st and 3rd in 2009 and 2014 respectively. Needless to say, he will run the ball early and often in Buffalo and he will do it in a very effective manner.

Additionally, it becomes easier to gauge what Ryan plans to do with McCoy in Buffalo because his current situation is very similar to ones he has been in with the Jets. He was stuck with remarkably awful quarterbacking in New York with Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. It is highly probable that Ryan will have terrible quarterbacking with the Bills and evidence by the fact that the team is holding an open competition between Tyrod Taylor, Matt Cassel and E.J. Manuel. The only difference between the two situations is now Ryan has a great running back in McCoy to run the ball to often, which should remain similar to his offensive styling with the Jets.

While having bad quarterbacks can help fantasy football running backs, it is a bit of a catch-22 because the passing game will likely be so awful that McCoy could face 7, 8 or 9 players in the box, which would hinder his success.

For the majority of his time in New York, Ryan has used a platoon system, but given what he has done in the small sample size with Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene, 275-325 carries shouldn’t be out of reason for Shady.

 

The Bad News

The bad news for LeSean McCoy really boils down to two things; Fred Jackson and the Bills offensive line. While the offensive line is more of an obvious and bigger issue than Jackson, the 34-year old running back is still a great goal line and short yardage back, meaning he could steal some touchdowns from McCoy in the red-zone. Jackson has scored 11 touchdowns in the last two seasons, proving he can be a fantasy football leech for starters in Buffalo.

Now to the offensive line, which ranked 32nd in run blocking last season according to Pro Football Focus. Dead last. That is without a doubt the most concerning fantasy aspect for McCoy. Granted the offensive line should improve in 2015 with the maturation of second year players Seantrel Henderson and Cyril Richardson and the acquisition of third round pick John Miller and Richie Incognito.

Despite the offensive line in Buffalo improving, it will be nothing like the elite run-blocking line that McCoy played behind in Philly. It is a bit concerning that given his injury-riddled past if that will continue or even worsen under a less competent, one-sided offense that figures to be heavily reliant on the running game. While theses concerns may turn out to be a non-factor once the season begins, they are still massive questions marks to McCoy's fantasy football success in his transition from the Eagles to the Bills.

 

Is LeSean McCoy's Situation Any Better?

From a fantasy football perspective McCoy is the ultimate boom-or-bust running back. Whether it is his change of scenery or his sporadic season-by-season production that has ranged from 17 TDS to 2 TDS and 840 yards to 1,607 yards from one to another, it is very difficult to quantify how much success McCoy will have in 2015.

However, when it’s all said and done, he is still an RB1, who if healthy could very well have numbers similar to 310 carries, 1,400 yards and 7-10 touchdowns. Ultimately given everything that has happened, the answer (and it’s an unpopular one because everyone wants a definitive one-sided answer) is it’s really a wash. LeSean McCoy is in no better or worse a situation playing under Rex Ryan in Buffalo.

 

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