Fantasy Football: Tyrod Taylor likely to start for Buffalo Bills

By The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 13, 2017 at 7:06 PM
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- In what has been an almost weekly question surrounding the Buffalo Bills since head coach Sean McDermott made the ill-fated decision to start Nathan Peterman for a game a month ago in Los Angeles, McDermott did not have a definitive answer on who would start Sunday's home finale against Miami.

Tyrod Taylor, who regained his starting job following Peterman's five-interception implosion in the first half of the Week 9 game against the Chargers but played average at best in the next two games, missed last week's victory over Indianapolis due to a contusion on his knee.

However, Peterman was knocked out of the game in the third quarter by a concussion and Joe Webb had to finish the game.

Peterman remains in concussion protocol as of Wednesday, so all signs are pointing toward Taylor getting the start against the Dolphins, but McDermott was not ready to commit one way or the other.

"When healthy, Tyrod will be our starter," McDermott said.

Interestingly, it really hasn't mattered who has played quarterback for the Bills this season. Taylor has done very little to sway his critics -- not to mention the coaching staff -- away from the belief that he's nothing more than a game manager who has reached his ceiling, a ceiling that simply isn't high enough.

It appears that his time in Buffalo is coming to a close as the 2017 season nears conclusion.

Taylor has presided over a passing game that remains stuck in the mud, ranked 31st in the NFL, and much of the trouble is due to Taylor's inconsistency and unwillingness to throw the ball downfield.

Peterman has shown some brief flashes that he's capable of executing a more productive passing game -- the five-interception nightmare aside -- but he's a fifth-round rookie and probably isn't equipped for a three-week AFC East gauntlet (two games with Miami sandwiched around one at New England) that will determine Buffalo's playoff fate.

And if Peterman doesn't get meaningful practice time, there is no way he will play this week.

"As part of the concussion protocol process, he'll be out at practice, but he's not out of that protocol," McDermott said. "He'll be limited through practice because of that."

Taylor was able to practice on a scaled back basis leading up to the Colts game, and he was holding out hope that he could play, but McDermott shut him down after a Sunday morning workout.

"We got close, we got close," McDermott said. "It just got to the point where he wasn't able to function and then execute, based on a lot of things. But we're moving in the right direction."

Taylor beat Miami twice in his first year as Buffalo's starter in 2015, but lost twice last season including a 34-31 overtime home game in Week 16 that ended Buffalo's slim playoff hopes.

In that last game, Taylor enjoyed the only 300-yard passing performance of his career, but he also had wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods to throw to.

This time, he might be throwing to the likes of Zay Jones, Deonte Thompson and Andre Holmes if Kelvin Benjamin -- who was held out of practice Wednesday - is unable to play.

And, he will be facing a Miami defense that, in back-to-back victories over Denver and New England, has permitted just one third-down conversion in 24 attempts. This means the Bills are going to have to rely on running back LeSean McCoy to spark the offense, and one of the biggest aspects of the game will be Buffalo's ability to stay out of difficult third-down distances. After last week's 227-yard rushing effort, the Bills have jumped back to sixth in the league averaging 130 yards per game.

SERIES HISTORY: 103rd regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead series, 59-42-1. Last season, the Dolphins swept the Bills including a December game in the second-to-last week of the season, a 34-31 overtime decision, that eliminated the Bills from the playoff hunt and helped solidify Miami's spot in the postseason.

--Tyrod Taylor said Wednesday that he enjoyed a good day at practice and he thinks he will be fine to play Sunday against the Dolphins.

"Feeling healthy, leg is progressing," he said. "Today was a good day, first step in preparation for this weekend."

Taylor said there is a chance he could do more damage to the knee by playing, and right now it's more about pain tolerance than anything, but if Wednesday's practice was an indication, the knee will continue to improve.

Taylor said, "It feels good today and I expect it to keep getting better. I haven't had any setbacks, fortunately."

Taylor confirmed he was close to playing against the Colts last week, but ultimately, he agreed with the team's decision to sit him out.

"At game time it was more about (being) healthy," he said. "I wasn't quite there where I wanted to be and where the trainers wanted me to be to go out here and fully trust my knee was ready to play a full game. Of course, the competitor in me, it's tough to say that because I want to be out there playing. As a team, we were able to go out there and accomplish a big win under tough conditions. Hats off to the guys, they worked hard throughout the week and Joe (Webb) and Nate (Peterman) handled everything like professionals and went out there and got the job done."

--The Bills selected safety Jordan Poyer as their Ed Block Courage Award winner. Poyer joined the Bills as a free agent in March after four years in Cleveland. He missed two-thirds of the 2016 season when he suffered a lacerated kidney, but he bounced back to become one of the Bills' top defensive players this season.

The recipient of the award is someone who symbolizes professionalism, strength, dedication and serves as a community role model for others. Every team in the NFL picks one winner, and they will be honored at a banquet in March in Baltimore. The award was first presented in 1985, and among the past winners in Buffalo are Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly, Kent Hull, Takeo Spikes, Kevin Everett, Chris Kelsay, Jairus Byrd, Kyle Williams, Cordy Glenn and Stephon Gilmore.

NOTES: QB Tyrod Taylor took the bulk of the practice snaps Wednesday and it appears pretty certain that his knee is feeling better and he will get the start against the Dolphins Sunday. Head coach Sean McDermott said when Taylor is healthy, he is the starter. ... QB Nathan Peterman remained in concussion protocol Wednesday and was limited in practice. Given his situation, it seems unlikely that he will play Sunday even as the backup. ... WR Kelvin Benjamin sat out practice after reinjuring his knee last week, and it looks as if his game status will be in question all week. ... TE Charles Clay had his typical Wednesday maintenance day to rest his knee injury, but he's expected to be fine for the game. ... DT Kyle Williams continues to battle through a sore groin and took Wednesday off, but like last week, he will almost certainly play. ... LT Cordy Glenn has missed the last five games with ongoing foot and ankle injuries, and Wednesday he also was suffering through an illness and did not practice. ... WR Andre Holmes was suffering from neck stiffness and sat out practice Wednesday.

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