What LeSean McCoy’s Release Means For Buffalo’s Odds

The Bills said goodbye to one of the best NFL running backs in recent memory

Keith Allison, Flickr
  • The Buffalo Bills elected to release 31-year-old running back LeSean McCoy on Saturday, creating $6.425 million in cap space. 

  • McCoy posted career lows in yards per carry (3.2), yards per touch (3.9), and ranked 55th out of 56 running backs in yards after contact (2.01) last season.

  • Less than a day after being cut loose by Buffalo, the Kansas City Chiefs picked McCoy up on a one-year deal worth $4 million ($3 million guaranteed). He will be reunited with old coach Andy Reid and hoisted into a role on arguably the top offense in the NFL. 

McCoy’s Downfall

The 2018 season was a complete disaster for LeSean McCoy. As mentioned above, the back posted career lows in multiple categories. The advanced stats aren’t any better.

McCoy ranked 45th in VOA (Value Over Average) and ranked 46th in YAR (Yards Above Replacement). His 37.0 percent success rate tied LeGarrette Blount and bested only Isaiah Crowell and Dion Lewis last season (minimum 100 carries). It seems that McCoy’s best days are behind him.

McCoy drew eight defenders in the box just 16.15 percent of the time in 2018. For comparison, T.J. Yeldon drew eight in the box 21.15 percent of the time. It’s somewhat shocking that McCoy had defenses playing their offense straight up and that it didn’t help his rushing efforts. Some of it was the offensive line’s fault, but McCoy didn’t do himself any favors.

The Offensive Line

The Bills offensive line posted a 20.9 percent stuffed rate, ranking 23rd in the league. Their adjusted line yards of 3.89 ranked 30th, making this line one of the worst to run behind. Thankfully, the Bills spent a chunk of money revamping one of their biggest needs.

Buffalo brought in a new center in Mitch Morse, making him the highest-paid center in the league. His ability to gain traction and chemistry with Josh Allen could make a huge difference on their season. The Bills brought in new guards and tackles, too. It’s tough to get a cast of new members all on the same page and build cohesiveness fast, but it’s a step in the right direction for a club that desperately needs to protect their young quarterback and open up more holes for a successful rush attack. Expect this group to get better each week as they work together and learn their strengths and weaknesses.

Bills Running Backs

The Bills are starving for a playmaker after cutting McCoy loose and they’re left with a trio of running backs to carry the load moving forward. McCoy was one of the only big names on this offense, garnering all the attention against opponents. However, his recent season has to make you wonder if they actually got any worse.

Veteran back Frank Gore (36-years-old) has managed to keep churning out productive seasons, missing just three games over the last eight years. Father Time has not affected Gore’s numbers and durability, and he’s an excellent bruiser between the tackles, especially during snowy conditions at times in Buffalo. Gore’s DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) ranked 17th last season, just ahead of Nick Chubb and Mark Ingram. Expect Gore to handle around 150 carries this season.

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The Bills brought in Yeldon to handle third-down back duties in 2019. Yeldon caught 70.5 percent of his targets last season to total a career high 55 receptions for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also managed 414 yards rushing on 104 carries. Yeldon’s 38th ranked DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) last season is still better than McCoy’s (45th). It’ll be interesting to see what Allen can do with the third-down back.

Lastly, we have Devin Singletary, a third-round pick out of Florida Atlantic that’s expected to pick up the slack with the release of McCoy. Singletary has shown signs of brilliance in the preseason, making the Bills feel comfortable enough to cut ties with their former star. Singletary has shown that he has the ability to protect the quarterback and catch an occasional check down. The rookie should get regular touches in this offense and should gain more and more of a role as the season progresses.

Future Odds

The Bills come in at +325 on DraftKings to make the playoffs this season. Unfortunately, the New England Patriots and New York Jets are projected to have better 2019 seasons, so making the playoffs (even as a Wild Card) will be very challenging.

The Bills won six games last season under a rookie quarterback. There’s a lot of optimism around Allen, as he led the team to a 5-6 record in his 11 starts last season while showing off a surprising ability to run the football. 

Buffalo is currently listed at +100 on DraftKings to go over 7.5 wins. McCoy’s departure affected those odds, but it really shouldn’t have. McCoy’s career pedigree isn’t what they received in production last season and they still managed to win six games.

Have some faith in the Bill’s building process and growth. The team lost a flashy name, but the assumption that the Buffalo will have a worse rush attack or that they’re a worse team without McCoy is just wrong, plain and simple. It’s reasonable to expect some fresher bodies to help this organization’s run game and get them headed in the right direction going forward. The loss of Shady McCoy shouldn’t scare you from betting on this club to win seven or eight games this season.

Note: Advanced statistics were found on publicly-accessible Football Outsiders and NFL Next Gen Stats platforms. The advice above represents the writer's personal view and does not reflect or represent BetQL's stance or interest in any way.