LeSean McCoy has long been a symbol of excellence across the running back landscape. His strong burst and lateral explosiveness make him one of the most fun runners to watch.
While Shady has hovered toward the top of the RB rankings for years, this could be a season in which he struggles to get going.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for McCoy will be adjusting to the loss of quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Tyrod is a classic dual-threat quarterback. He has a rocket arm, and can generate a lot of yards on the ground as well. This constant threat of the quarterback running naturally open up lanes for the running backs on the team. Without Taylor behind center, Shady will find the going tough.
So who will be Tyrod’s replacement? The quarterbacks on the Bills current roster are AJ McCarron, Nathan Peterman, and raw rookie Josh Allen. In all likelihood, McCarron will open the season as the team’s starter.
While I’d like to give McCarron the benefit of the doubt, I think it’s fair to think that he is a downgrade from more proven Taylor at this point in their respective careers. If the team struggles offensively, it would mean fewer scoring opportunities for everyone, Shady included.
Also a threat to diminish McCoy’s 2018 stats is the Bills’ acquisition of veteran running back Chris Ivory this offseason. While I do not expect Ivory to supplant McCoy as the team’s lead runner, I could see this being somewhat of an uneven timeshare. Ivory is known as a bruiser, due to his highly physical style of running, while McCoy is more of a finesse runner. If the coaching staff views Ivory as the more reliable goal line back, Shady’s touchdown projection would be further lowered.
When you look at the numbers, Buffalo was ranked sixth as a team in rushing yards last season with 2,017 yards, with Shady accounting for 1,138 of them. But aside from the nature of the offense changing to reflect the change at QB, the team has also lost several members of its offensive line from a season ago. Richie Incognito is currently retired, although there have been mixed reports on his willingness to return to for another season. As it currently stands, they will have to make do without his services. The Bills also lost center Eric Wood, after he retired as a result of a career-ending neck injury.
In the end, there are just too many factors working against this offense for Shady to consistently produce like a top-ranked RB1. He could still have some big games in 2018, but the position is suddenly full of elite players and rising stars that are simply better bets than he is at this point.