Bills Re-sign Jerry Hughes
Hughes, who was one of the premier edge-rushing talents that could potentially hit the open market this year, has elected to return to a Buffalo franchise that has been making waves following the LeSean McCoy-Kiko Alonso trade and the Rex Ryan hire.
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Ryan is the key here to tapping into Hughes’ value, who has shaken off premature labeling as a “bust” after a slow start to his career in Indianapolis, as five sacks in his first three years in the league did not bode well for the former TCU Horned Frog.
A trade to Buffalo in 2013 sparked a 9.5 sack season, along with 46 total tackles, under the leadership of DC Mike Pettine, who incidentally worked as Ryan’s right-hand man from 2002-2012 in both Baltimore and New York, suggesting the hire of Ryan for the Bills should suit Hughes’ play style.
Classified as a linebacker in many leagues for the 2013 season (his scoring was enough to rank as a low-end DE2), Hughes flew a little under the radar heading into 2014 and was shaping up as a value grab in later rounds for IDP gamers aware of a potential switch in his classification. Another productive year of 9.5 sacks and 53 total tackles, as well as the aforementioned switch resulted in Hughes ending the year as a mid to low DE1.
At only 27 years of age, Hughes is just reaching his peak, and now he has the master (Ryan) rather than the apprentice (Pettine) calling the shots, so there is reason to believe that more could still be to come from this improving pass-rusher.
Ryan is seen as one of the foremost defensive minds currently active in coaching, and despite putting together some fearsome defenses for the Jets in the past few years, one thing he lacked season after season was a truly dynamic edge-rushing threat.
Of course, we have seen Ryan with such assets before in Baltimore, when he could utilize Terrell Suggs to terrorize opposing offensive lines. Now that he has the duo of Hughes and four-time Pro Bowler Mario Williams, expect some havoc in the backfield.
There are two further issues worth noting for Hughes’ IDP value. He will remain in Buffalo, home of one of the most generous stat crews when it comes to assigning tackles, which is especially useful for edge-rushers who can be prone to the odd zero on the stats sheet. Having a favorable stat crew that is more liberal in its awarding of tackles means Hughes will pick up a handful of points over the course of a season he may otherwise not have received, and every little bit helps.
The second point is Hughes’ classification, which is unlikely to remain as a defensive end. Despite the Jets duo of Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson both being classified as defensive ends during Rex Ryan’s tenure in New York, it’s expected that Hughes role in the defense will lead to him being re-assigned his linebacker status. This will kill his value in most fantasy formats.
As a linebacker, Hughes will join the likes of Ryan Kerrigan and Connor Barwin in the fantasy doldrums. They can post some decent games thanks to their big play production, but they lack the consistency owners demand to be a regular starting fantasy linebacker. It’s a shame for his dynasty owners, who only experienced a single season of his scoring at defensive end, but we wouldn’t recommend dumping Hughes from your roster quite yet. Things can, and do, change in the Not For Long league and Hughes’ skill set and scoring potential mark him as a low-end DE1, if classified as such.