Yahoo! Single-Game DFS Breakdown: Patriots at Bills
Week 13 is saving the best matchup for last. The New England Patriots head to Orchard Park to take on the Buffalo Bills with first place in the AFC East on the line.
It is vital to remember that single-game slates are not simply a “max salary, play as many big names as possible, and submit” format, especially in larger tournament fields. We need to identify players that can be pieces in their offense’s success, whether in the lead or trailing, as well as the players that could be focal points in a neutral game script. The ability to then take those players and identify which will succeed in the single-game format will put us in a better position to succeed as daily fantasy players.
Vegas Total and Spread
Buffalo is a 2.5-point home favorite with a game total of 41 points. The Bills have an implied team total of 21.75 points, while the Patriots have an implied team total of 19.25 points.
Potential Game Flow Scenarios
Important weather note. There is a wind advisory until 7 p.m. ET for Orchard Park, New York, with a Gale warning that covers the southeast and east sides of Lake Erie well past the game. That could lead to more wind concerns for tonight’s game. 4for4’s Chris Allen is an excellent resource for all things weather. Check out his Twitter as we approach kick-off.
Tonight’s game features two of the best defenses in the NFL. The Bills ($20) and Patriots ($18) defenses are quasi-run funnel defenses but are no worse than 16th against any position according to 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA). Overall, Buffalo and New England rank first and second in total offensive aFPA, respectively.
That means winning on the ground could be the difference in this game, and both teams have numerous running backs to use. Buffalo has set up the run using the passing game because it has been a revolving door at the position. Zack Moss ($13), Devin Singletary ($13), and Matt Breida ($16) have taken turns as the lead back this season to varying levels of success. Do not be surprised if all three are active with adverse conditions in play and Josh Allen ($33) a willing runner. The Pats defense is pretty healthy with only one starter - LB Ja’Whaun Bentley - questionable for Monday.
Allen has an excellent collection of wideouts, but it has been a lot of Stefon Diggs ($27) followed by a smattering of targets to tight end Dawson Knox ($15) that has been the recipe for passing success. If the wind remains a factor, it will be interesting to see if Cole Beasley ($13) is a factor. Beasley’s biggest issue this season has been the emergence of Knox, who has an average depth of target (aDOT) that is 0.2 yards further downfield than Beasley since Week 8. Emmanuel Sanders and Gabriel Davis are the deep targets for Allen, but if the wind ends up causing deep balls to turn into wobbly ducks en route down the field, Beasley will have to be utilized.
Mac Jones ($22) can thrive tonight because he has not needed to air out the ball with his receivers. Kendrick Bourne ($14), Jakobi Meyers ($13), and Nelson Agholor ($12) are all versatile enough to get open without needing to breeze past secondaries. Chunk passes for the Pats have led to chunk runs from Damien Harris ($19) and Rhamondre Stevenson ($18). Their strong running gives Brandon Bolden (questionable - knee, $12) the ability to be Jones’ safety valve underneath. Bill Belichick may very well dare the Bills to stop the run and take whatever is available in the passing game.
Despite not being every-week fantasy options, Hunter Henry ($15) and Jonnu Smith ($10) are matchup nightmares and add another layer of difficulty for the Bills defense.
Close, low-scoring game
Zack Moss (if active)
Close, high-scoring game
Blowout for home team
Blowout for road team
Cheap/Unique Stacking Option
Traditional stacks such as QB/WR1 or WR2, QB/TE, and RB/DEF are stacks seen used in winning lineups. The obvious choice is not always the winning choice. Below is a cheap stack with at least one unique quality that could break the slate.
Hunter Henry ($15), Dawson Knox ($15), and Cole Beasley ($13)
Knox’s production upside is higher than Henry’s, but both have been red zone monsters. Henry leads the Patriots in red-zone receiving targets and has four catches inside the 10-yard line, all for scores. Knox is second on the Bills in RZ targets behind Stefon Diggs. Three of his five catches inside the 10 have resulted in a touchdown.
Beasley is third on the Bills in red-zone targets. I added him because the Bills have passed on 60% of red-zone plays since Week 8.
Low-Priced Volatile Plays
Marquez Stevenson ($10)
He has moved into the role Isaiah McKenzie ($10) occupied as a returner and sometimes offensive weapon. He only played one snap Week 12 in his season debut, but he, like McKenzie, is dangerous with only a few yards of space in front of him. Stevenson could be a negative aDOT option that breaks a big play.
UPDATE: Stevenson is inactive
Devin Singletary ($13) and Zack Moss ($13)
The duo is cheaper than Matt Breida and has allowed him to make this backfield a potential mess. Moss is volatile because he could be inactive, but can also be the red zone back if active. Singletary led the Bills in carries Week 12 one week after Breida led the backfield. It is all a problem but the two longest-tenured running backs may end up cannibalizing each other’s workloads trying to pass Breida.
Jonnu Smith ($10)
Smith had one fewer target than Hunter Henry in Week 12 and finished with more catches and yards than his position-mate. His 7.3 Yahoo! points Week 12 were his most since Week 4 against Tampa Bay. Smith is uber-talented but rarely a focal point.
Josh Allen ($33)
He gets a pass on the passing game concerns because he utilizes his rushing ability. Against an equally stingy Saints run defense Week 12, Allen rushed for 43 yards on eight carries with his running backs stifled. It is difficult to bet against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Damien Harris ($19)
Keep Josh Allen off the field and tenderize the Bills' front line. Like I mentioned earlier, the running game opens the passing game for the Patriots. Harris has at least one touchdown in six of the last seven games. Stevenson’s role should keep Harris’s Superstar rostership lower.
Rhamondre Stevenson ($18)
Want to fade Harris? Cool. Stevenson has averaged at least five yards per carry in each of the past four games he has played, something Harris cannot say. Eventually, those chunk runs will end in the end zone. New England has the fifth-best Week 13 offensive line matchup against their opponent’s aFPA.
Kendrick Bourne ($14)
Patriots voodoo magic has turned Kendrick Bourne into arguably their best receiver. His biggest threat to his production is his aDOT, which has gone from 8.9 yards for the full season to 6.6 the past month. Only Jakobi Meyers is seeing more targets than Bourne, but Bourne is outscoring him per game this season. The Bills are without Tre’Davious White for the rest of the season, and trying to put pressure on the Bills’ cornerbacks sans White is a plan of attack most will not think of considering the weather and the dearth of talent New England has at running back. Using 4for4’s Floor & Ceiling projections from FanDuel (same scoring as Yahoo!)Bourne is tied with Damien Harris for the highest ceiling among Patriots (excluding QB).
Longer Shot Superstar Picks
Stefon Diggs (price versus expected production), Cole Beasley, Dawson Knox, Hunter Henry, Patriots defense