The third-year man looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2020 season
The Buffalo Bills deployed a fantasy football manager’s worst nightmare last year: the “RBBC,” or running back by committee. That approach doesn’t allow armchair folks like us to know which player is going to help us dominate our friends and coworkers in fantasy football, but it does allow for teams to keep a stable of rested, healthy runners.
While that approach has become the norm of late, it didn’t work very well last year in Buffalo. Whether due to poor blocking, poor play-calling, or poor performance on the part of the running backs themselves, one thing is clear: Buffalo did not run the ball effectively during the 2020 season.
The Bills were able to cover those issues thanks to the league’s third-ranked passing offense, but in situations where the team just needed to grind out clock, the Bills were unable to do the job. Improving their rushing attack is a priority heading into the 2021 season.
In our latest installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we focus on one half of the presumed two-headed monster at running back—a third-year man in what could be a make-or-break season.
Name: Devin Singletary
Height/Weight: 5’7” 203 lbs
Age: 23 (24 on 9/3/2021)
Experience/Draft: 3; selected in the third round (No. 74 overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft
Acquired: Third-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Singletary enters the third year of his four-year rookie contract, a past worth a total of $3.898 million overall. For the 2021 season, Singletary carries a salary cap hit of $1,108,956. Buffalo is responsible for a dead-cap charge of $517,912 if they release or trade him.
2020 Recap: Singletary had high expectations for his second year, but he did not come close to living up to them. He led the team in rushing for the second consecutive season, but his yardage total dipped from 775 yards as a rookie to 687 yards last season. He played in all 16 games in 2020 after missing four as a rookie due to a hamstring injury. He carried the ball 156 times in 2020, averaging 4.4 yards per rush. He scored two rushing touchdowns, including a long of 51 yards against the Denver Broncos. Singletary caught 38 passes on 50 targets for 269 yards. In the playoffs, Singletary had 24 total touches for 107 yards (16 rushes for 63 yards; 8 catches for 44 yards). However, he did not start Buffalo’s Wild Card victory over the Indianapolis Colts. That honor went to Zack Moss instead, and the rookie out-snapped Singletary until his day ended prematurely thanks to an ankle injury.
Positional outlook: Singletary and Moss once again top the depth chart, with veteran Matt Breida set to compete as the third back on offense. Taiwan Jones is around for his special teams value, while Antonio Williams and Christian Wade remain as practice squad candidates.
2021 Offseason: Singletary is healthy and he has participated in all offseason work to date. He had a fantastic preseason effort against the Detroit Lions, rushing eight times for 42 yards and adding a six-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Davis Webb III.
2021 Season outlook: Singletary definitely understands that his grip on the running back job that was presumed to be his slipped last season, and he has worked hard this offseason to make sure that he’s ready to contribute this year. That’s not to say that he didn’t work hard last offseason, but Singletary seems to have dedicated a little extra time this year to ensuring that he doesn’t lose snaps again this season. The coaching staff clearly likes what Moss brings to the table, but I view Singletary as the superior player—his change-of-direction ability coupled with his receiving ability make him a perfect fit in the wide-open offense Buffalo runs. Moss is a solid bit of thunder to Singletary’s lightning, even if the latter isn’t lightning in the traditional sense. He’s more lightning like the literal meaning—zig-zagging and tough to pinpoint, capable of ripping off big plays even without the breakaway speed of someone like the veteran Breida. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will almost certainly divide carries and snaps very evenly again this year, but if Singletary can show that he is the “hot hand” early, he’ll force his way into more time. His preseason debut was an encouraging step in the right direction.