Bills vs. Jets
The Buffalo Bills are entering this week’s game against the Jets coming off a 41-9 loss at the hands of the Chicago Bears. It was yet another tough day for the Bills, particularly on the offensive side of the ball where QB Nathan Peterman continued to struggle mightily with turnovers and the running game was inconsistent at best. This Bills squad is a team in which the lead RB LeSean McCoy is averaging just 33.37 rushing yards per game, starting QBs are averaging 177 yards passing per game, and the top WR Zay Jones is averaging just 33.22 yards per game. This is simply not a talented team and that means little fantasy relevance, especially this week against the New York Jets who rank 7th in total defense according to Football Outsiders. Each week provides different situations and new opportunities though so let’s take a look at the fantasy relevant information you need to know about regarding the Buffalo Bills this week:
Who starts at QB for the Buffalo Bills and can they produce any fantasy relevance?
It’s not yet been decided who will start at QB for the Buffalo Bills this week, or at least the public doesn’t know yet. Veteran QB Derek Anderson has been ruled out while still recovering from a concussion, but everyone else seems like a potential option. 1st-round rookie QB Josh Allen is working his way back from a throwing elbow injury that has kept him out of the last three games, but he was limited again in practice Friday and so it’s possible but doubtful that he’s ready for Sunday. That leaves 2 options left, QB Nathan Peterman who struggled with 3 INTs last week and famously has a 3:12 TD to INT ratio as an NFL QB, and QB Matt Barkley who was signed very recently and has not had much success as an NFL QB either (8 TDs against 18 INTs with a 59.8% completion% in his NFL career). Neither should inspire a lot of confidence fantasy wise and certainly both should be left on the wire in all but the most desperate of situations.
The offense around the starting QB likely won’t be of much help either as the Bills have given up 33 sacks (2nd worst in the NFL) and rank 29th in pass protection according to Football Outsiders. The receiving group also has struggled to create separation and come down with catchable balls at times and overall it’s a very difficult situation for any QB to thrive in.
What is up with RB LeSean McCoy and can he bounce back?
RB LeSean McCoy is averaging a career-low 3.1 yards per carry and has yet to score a rushing touchdown this season. It has definitely been a tough season for him and for owners of his in fantasy leagues. The good news is that he does seem to be healthy for the most part, and he’s shown flashes of his usual burst over the last couple weeks even if the results haven’t been there. He’s struggled to find running lanes though and been caught dancing behind the line a few times and I thought his disappointing lines over the last couple weeks have been a case of some slight indecisiveness.
With QB Nathan Peterman or QB Matt Barkley as the likely starter this week, both of which are likely to be considered in over their heads at this point, the Bills may try focus on utilizing their zone run-blocking schemes and I think they can potentially grind out first downs doing so. There will be stacked boxes to go through and I could see it being a low efficiency game for McCoy. McCoy for the season is used to stacked boxes in front of him as he has faced 8+ defenders in the box 21.18% of the time. Should be interesting to see if McCoy can breakout again against the 11th ranked Jets rush defense and I think there could be some flex appeal here in a grind it out game.
Can anyone from the receiving group step up into fantasy relevance?
Presumed #1 WR Kelvin Benjamin hasn’t been a good receiver this year though as he has struggled to get open (lowest avg yards of separation at target mark in the NFL) and it has led to a poor efficiency in terms of catching the ball (37.74% catch rate which is 2nd worst in the NFL). I think he’s best left on the bench or even on the waiver wire.
#2 WR Zay Jones continues to show promise with quality underlying metrics including solid separation skills (2.6 avg yards of separation at target which ranks ahead of names like WR Brandin Cooks, WR DeAndre Hopkins, and WR Mike Evans) and catch efficiency (60.42%). If he had better QB play around him, he would like be much more fantasy relevant but that’s not the case.
WR Terrelle Pryor made his Buffalo Bills debut last week and quickly became a fairly big part of the game plan netting 5 targets only 5 days after signing with the team. He only made 2 catches for 17 yards, and he dropped a pass that led to one of QB Nathan Peterman’s three interceptions. However, the fact that he was third among Bills receivers in targets, trailing only WR Kelvin Benjamin (9) and Zay Jones (6), and was second among wideouts in snaps with 75, bodes well for his involvement in the offense. Consider him a low floor/medium upside bench option at this point.
Are the Bills D/ST unit a streaming option this week?
If I told you that the Bills were the #2 ranked defense in terms of DVOA according to Football Outsiders, would you believe me? Well it’s true! This Bills defense is being wasted by an inept offense as they rank 3rd against the pass and 10th against the rush. Against a NY Jets squad that ranks 29th in terms of pass offense and 30th in terms of rush offense, this should be considered a strong matchup for the Bills. From a turnover perspective, the Jets have fumbled 16 times and thrown 14 interceptions while also allowing 21 sacks this year. Buffalo’s defense has a chance to keep the team close this week and I think this D/ST unit is absolutely worth the stream.
Bust: Kelvin Benjamin
Sleeper: Bills D/ST
Earlier in the week, this game was setting up to be pretty unwatchable. We were being set up for a struggling Sam Darnold vs the Bills choice of either Nathan Peterman, Derek Anderson, or a returning-from-injury Josh Allen. As the days passed, news broke that shook the matchup to its core (FYI – clear sarcasm). We will now get Josh McCown for the Jets vs (potentially) Matt Barkley for Buffalo. Darnold has what is being considered a “significant foot sprain”, as he was seen in a walking boot and did not practice. With McCown now in, can I dare say there are fantasy implications that could benefit the Jets offense for the week?
Fire up Robby Anderson?
Unfortunately to this point, Darnold and WR Robby Anderson have truly only clicked in one game this season. With McCown in this Sunday, we can see the connection of a year ago reignite between the two. McCown is primed to air the ball out a ton, and he could look to target Anderson if he is able to breakaway on his defender. Unfortunately, Anderson is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Bills and so rolling with him this week in your starting lineup would be considered risk. It does set the stage for someone like WR Quincy Enunwa to step up in a featured role where he could return flex value if Anderson is out.
How about the rest of the offense?
The Jets game plan, courtesy of struggling OC Jeremy Bates, has been spotty all season long. Who knows if the Jets will look to open up the pass game, or rely on the run. In either case, aside from Anderson, if WR Quincy Enunwa suits up, I believe he too will see his fair share of targets. Wishful thinking, TE Chris Herndon will also be involved in the capacity that he deserves to be. In the run game, RB Elijah McGuire deserves play over fellow backs Isaiah Crowell and Trenton Cannon; both in real life and your fantasy lineups.
This is a week where I can vouch to start the Jets D/ST. It’s Saturday morning, and the starting QB for Buffalo is still up in the air. All we truly know is that Anderson has been ruled out, and Allen is questionable. Will we see Peterman or Barkley? With either scenario open for possibility, the Jets defense ideally will play with pressure, and limit the scoring greatly.