Each Wednesday during the NFL season I’m compiling power rankings of the best Buffalo Bills players for 2017. The rankings are cumulative and not based solely off their last game.
Here’s my rankings after Week nine; a 34-21 Thursday night loss to the New York Jets as the Bills offense was completely under siege. The loss saw Buffalo fall to 5-3 on the season. (last week’s rankings in parenthesis):
1. Micah Hyde: Like almost everyone last Thursday night Hyde didn’t have his best game, but it’s still been a remarkable first season with Buffalo. Hyde’s five interceptions are second in the NFL, behind only Tennessee’s Kevin Byard and his 13 passes defended are also second only to Byard. (1)
2. Tyrod Taylor: Despite being completely under siege by the Jets defense (he was sacked seven times) Taylor actually played pretty well—all things considered. He completed 29-of-40 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns while also scoring one of his own, albeit coming in garbage time. Given the injury to Charles Clay and an overall lack of weapons, Taylor’s played as well as anyone could realistically expect halfway through 2017. (3)
3. Lesean McCoy: Shady couldn’t get anything going against the Jets, managing just 25 yards on 12 carries while being blanked on the receiving stat sheet. It’s the third time in eight games this season McCoy’s been held under 25 yards rushing. Still, despite the team’s struggles to run the ball consistently this season he’s still on pace to go over 1,000 yards (1,092) while leading the team with 38 receptions. (2)
4. Jordan Poyer: After missing a game with a knee injury Poyer had seven tackles in his return against the Jets. He has 40 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions on the season to go with seven passes defended. He’s been a huge asset. (5)
5. Tre’Davious White: The rookie had the first true nightmare game of his career at Met Life last Thursday, as he was burned repeatedly in coverage, whiffed on tackles and committed an indefensible facemask penalty. Still, one game doesn’t define a season and on the whole he’s been excellent halfway through his first year in the league. White has 31 tackles to go with an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery. (4)
6. Preston Brown: He hasn’t made many impact plays and his game isn’t without flaws, but Brown has been a tackling machine this year. His 64 tackles lead the team by a wide margin and are tied for sixth in the AFC. It’d be nice to see him force a fumble or two and pick off a pass, but he’s playing reasonably well as the captain of an overachieving defense. (Not Ranked)
7. Kyle Williams: Even though the Bills defense as a whole was awful last Thursday, Williams was a bright spot, as evidenced by his team-best 86.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. Williams has provided very little on the stat sheet midway through 2017 (21 tackles/1 sack) but he’s been a rock on the line—just as he’s been throughout his career. With Marcell Dareus gone it makes Williams effectively anchoring the Bills interior even more crucial. (Not Ranked)
8. Stephen Hauschka: Didn’t have any field goal attempts in the Jets game. He remains 16-of-18 on field goals this year and has converted all five from 50 yards and beyond. (8)
9. Jerry Hughes: It was a very bad night for Hughes last Thursday. Not only was he held without a sack but he didn’t register a tackle either. What he did register was a personal foul penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct—while the chains were out for a first down measurement. That’s just inexcusable. Hughes has been good through most the season and needs to play far better than he did against the Jets. (6)
10. Charles Clay: Man, this team misses him. Despite not playing three straight games Clay still leads the team with 258 receiving yards and his 20 receptions rank second. There’s a chance he could be back this Sunday. This offense can surely use him. (Not Ranked)
OFF THE RANKINGS: Eric Wood (seventh last week), Lorenzo Alexander (ninth), Matt Milano (10th).