Kickoff: Monday, December 6th at 8:15 PM ET
Location: Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
Betting Odds: BUF -3, 44 total via Oddsshark
New England Patriots
Mac Jones (Sit)
With three top-12 weeks in his last six, Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones has made QB streaming decisions much tougher than they were a few weeks ago. While Jones’s yardage totals are low, just two 300-yard games so far, he has tossed multiple touchdowns in six of his 12 starts. However this week the Bills face the league’s best fantasy defense against fantasy quarterbacks. Despite losing their top corner for the season, Tre’Davious White is out of the year, the Bills still have a top-end secondary and a rotation of pass rusher that is the envy of the league. Jones may have a solid game, in what will be one of the top games of the week, but he will struggle to put up fantasy points. Sit him this week but just enjoy watching this game.
Damien Harris (Start, RB2), Rhamondre Stevenson (Start, Flex), Brandon Bolden (Start, Low-end Flex)
Bill Belichick is back to his old tricks of tormenting fantasy managers who roster New England running backs. This is essentially a three-way committee, with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson splitting carries on early downs, and Brandon Bolden handling 3rd down, short and long down and distance, and 2-minute snaps. For the ball carriers, New England is favoring Harris at the goal-line but they have relied on Stevenson late in games. Despite what looks like a messy situation, all three backs do have fantasy value, and any of them could be used as an RB2 for slim backfields or as a Flex for a bye week or injury replacements. The Patriots will rely heavily on the short passing game, and attempt to slow down the Bills by running the ball.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Kendrick Bourne (Start, WR3/Flex), Jakobi Meyers (Start, Flex), Nelson Agholor (Sit), Hunter Henry (Sit), Jonnu Smith (Sit)
Last week the Patriots played more 11 personnel (3WR/1RB/1TE) than in any of their previous games. Perhaps it was gameplan, but Kendrick Bourne has emerged as a solid and preferred target over these past three weeks and he could be forcing the change. Bourne now leads the team in receiving yards (623) and has five recovering scores, good for second on the team behind Hunter Henry (7). Jakobi Meyers is seeing a lion’s share of snaps, 93% on the season, but he operates as an underneath target and has just one garbage-time touchdown his scoring potential has been limited, scoring 12 points or less in 67% of his starts. Meyers has yet to have a WR1 week, compared to Bourne’s three. Look for the Patriots to continue to play with the wideouts this week, with Nelson Agholor making the occasional big play. Bourne is a nice receiver play this week with some upside, and Meyers can only be started at Flex if you are needing a plugin at the position.
One reason why the Patriots could rely on the receivers more this week is that the Bills have dominated opposing tight ends. Travis Kelce and Logan Thomas each had 40+ yards and score but outside of those two games, the Bills have only allowed one other score and just one player to top 50 yards receiving. The Patriots have two solid options at tight end, but with such limited potential for fantasy points to the position, it is best to avoid both Henry and Jonnu Smith this week.
Josh Allen (Start, Low-end QB1)
Josh Allen carved up New Orleans last week, tossing four touchdowns on just 28 pass attempts. While his yardage total was just 260, he also managed 43 yards on eight carries. Don’t look now but Allen now leads all fantasy players in scoring, at over 24 points per game. This week he faces the Patriots, who are second in the league in fantasy points allowed to QBs, behind Buffalo. In five career games, the Pats have held Allen to three of the lowest scoring week of his career. While he did explode for 35.5 points in late 2020, earlier in the season New England held him to just 14 points. Obviously, the move will be to start Allen and hope for a better result, but in a tough game, he could struggle.
Matt Breida (Start, Flex), Devin Singletary (Sit)
Last week the Bills decided to “shake up” their backfield and designated Zack Moss as a healthy scratch. That meant Devin Singletary shared time with Matt Breida. The team wanted to jumpstart their struggling running game and felt Breida could add a new dimension. Breida did find the end-zone for the second time in three weeks but he did not see an increase in opportunity that we expected. Singletary dominated snaps (68%), routes-run (66%), and most of the snaps in critical situations. Still, Singletary was as pedestrian as he has been for most of the season. Don’t expect Devin to turn things around against the Patriots, but Breida is a nice long-shot play who could earn more chances this week. However, he is still a very risky play.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Stefon Diggs (Start), Emmanuel Sanders (Sit), Cole Beasley (Sit), Dawson Knox (Start, TE1)
Early in the season, the Bills’ fantasy passing attack revolved around everyone not named Stephon Diggs. Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley had multiple weekly WR1 finishes while Diggs struggled out the gate. Since Week 6, however, Diggs has been as consistent as any receiver in the league, with six straight WR2 weeks, including three weekly top-12 finishes. Diggs has begun to torch man coverage once again, and Allen is looking for him all over the field. Diggs could turn out to be a player that wins fantasy leagues heading down the stretch. Don’t even think about benching him.
The downside of Diggs emergence is the passing attack is becoming more concentrated, with Dawson Knox being the second option and preferred red-zone target, and Sanders and Beasley are canceling each other out. It is hard to recommend either Sanders or Beasley unless you are in desperate need of a starter because you never can tell who will have a big game. However, Knox is a top tight-end option again this week, even against a strong defense. Knox has been a breakout at the position and, outside of injury, has shown no sign of slowing down.
-Marc Salazar (@oldsnake77)