Kickoff: Sunday, December 13th at 8:20 PM ET
Location: Bills Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
Betting Odds: BUF -1.5, 46.5 Total on Oddsshark
Ben Roethlisberger (Stream)
The Steelers have all but abandoned the run the past few weeks and focused on the short passing game. Ben Roethlisberger is averaging 5.9 yards per pass attempt during the past three weeks. They are dinking and dunking their way down the field, which makes it difficult to sustain long drives. One drop, of which there were many last week, can derail a whole drive for the Steelers because of every short pass matters. Roethlisberger has been fine on the year, ranking 14th in Ben Baldwin’s (of the Athletic) composite EPA+CPOE quarterback stat. The high volume of passing and the Steelers receiving weapons always make Roethlisberger a decent streaming option. This week even more so against the average Bills pass defense (per Football Outsiders) and the potential for a shootout game.
James Conner (Start, RB2)
James Conner has missed the last two weeks due to Covid but has said that he will be back this week. Keep monitoring his status because it is no guarantee that he plays. If he suits up, Conner is in a nice spot. The Bills defense ranks 18th against the run (per Football Outsiders) and neither Benny Snell nor Anthony McFarland did enough to change the Steelers’ mentality of bellcow or bust. The only potential issue for Conner is the number of touches he will see as the Steelers have gone extra pass-heavy as the season has progressed. That limits his ceiling a bit and is why he is listed as an RB2 for this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
JuJu Smith-Schuster (Start, WR2), Diontae Johnson (Start, WR2), Chase Claypool (Start, Flex), Eric Ebron (Start)
As I discussed prior, the Steelers have used the short passing game instead of the run game. JuJu Smith-Schuster has basically stepped in as the teams leading RB. His aDOT is an extremely low 5.5 (per airyards.com). That places him around Larry Fitzgerald, Zay Jones, and Trent Taylor. Smith-Schusters saving grace has been the fact that he leads the team in red-zone and end-zone targets. The Bills have also struggled against slot receivers which raises Smith-Schuster’s floor this week. Diontae Johnson has received plenty of targets if he is on the field, but he also leads the NFL in drops and drop rate. He also has a lower aDOT at 7.5 (per airyards.com). But in PPR formats, the target total is what we should focus on and that should continue this week. Johnson is a fine WR2/Flex option. Chase Claypool has been the most effective deep receiver for the Steelers. He is 18th in yards per route run (per PFF) and leads the team in air yards by nearly 200 (per airyards.com). The Steelers lowered his snap rate considerably last week and he split time with James Washington, who ended up performing well with the increased playing time. Claypool is still the safer bet between the two, but he isn’t much more than a flex option right now. Eric Ebron has seen 11 targets in each of the last two games and the Bills allow the most receptions to the TEs in the NFL. Fire him up this week.
Josh Allen (Start)
If you have Josh Allen, you are in a difficult position. Allen has gotten back to his early-season success and is now third in Ben Baldwin’s (of the Athletic) composite EPA+CPOE QB stat. He also has the rushing upside we want in a QB. But he also happens to be playing the Steelers’ number one ranked passing defense (per Football Outsiders) in the fantasy playoffs. I would have a hard time benching Allen for a streamer, but you cannot go into this week expecting a huge performance. If you need the upside, Allen provides it more than any streaming option could. But if you feel you just need a solid floor performance from your QB to move to the next round, I can understand looking to stream.
Devin Singletary (Sit), Zach Moss (Sit)
Devin Singletary and Zach Moss have cannibalized each other’s fantasy upside, but they also haven’t performed well individually. Singletary is only 27th in DYAR (per Football Outsiders) and Moss would be 26th if he had enough attempts to qualify. With Moss getting benched last week due to a fumble and the Bills leading the majority of the game, Singletary could barely muster a double-digit fantasy outing. I would avoid using either as Singletary has only one TD on the year and Moss only providing any fantasy points if he scores a TD.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Stefon Diggs (Start, WR1), Cole Beasley (Start, Flex), Gabriel Davis (Sit, Deep Flex)
With John Brown on IR, Stefon Diggs is averaging 11.7 targets and a 31.7% target share, Cole Beasley is averaging 8.2 targets and a 22.2% target share, and Gabriel Davis is averaging five targets and a 13.5% target share. Beasley is actually outperforming Diggs by DYAR (per Football Outsiders) and is ranked seventh in the NFL to Diggs’ 18th. Although no one would argue that Diggs is not the WR1, he has the sixth-highest WOPR in the league (per airyards.com). Diggs is too good to move off of even against a strong Steelers defense. They have been susceptible to big plays in the passing game as well, leaving the door open for Diggs to have a splash play. Beasley has been and continues to be a flex option with Brown out. Davis is the definition of a boom-or-bust receiver. If you really need the upside to win your playoff matchup, he can be flexed.
-Frank Costanzo (@FrankQBList on Twitter, Zzzonked92 on Reddit)