Kickoff: Monday, December 28th at 8:15 PM ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Betting Odds: BUF -7, 46 total via Oddsshark
Josh Allen (Start, QB1)
At this point, it’s incredibly tough to sit Josh Allen in any matchup, and unless you have Patrick Mahomes I don’t think you should sit him here either. Yes, New England has historically been tough on him, but his rushing ability is what drives his fantasy performances and he’s been nothing short of spectacular in that department this year. New England has been giving up a boatload of rushing yards in recent weeks (we’ll get to that next), and while I do think they will make an adjustment to fix that in Week 16, Allen is a special player and should still have opportunities to score on the ground in this one. Roll with Allen this week and you should end up happy.
Zack Moss (Start, Flex), Devin Singletary (Start, Flex)
The Patriots have been absolutely gashed on the ground in each of the last two weeks, allowing a combined 436 rushing yards in their two games against the Rams and Dolphins. A lot of it has been scheme related – the Patriots didn’t make any adjustments to their defensive personnel to stop the run at any point last week, something that’s obviously very uncharacteristic for them. Will they try to stop the run at all in this one, or focus on trying to stop the big plays by Allen and the receivers? My guess is the latter. The problem is that both players are splitting work in this backfield and it’s been tough to pin down which one will have the most opportunities in any given week. Zack Moss has led the team in carries each of the past two weeks, though Devin Singletary has received more snaps. Both players carried the ball 14 times for 80+ yards in their first matchup against New England in Week 6, so we could see something similar this week against a team that has a glaring weakness at the moment. If I had to pick one or the other it would be Moss simply due to having more carries each of the past two weeks, but this matchup is juicy enough that both players are worthy of Flex consideration.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Stefon Diggs (Start, WR2), Cole Beasley (Start, WR3), Gabriel Davis (Sit), Isaiah McKenzie (Sit), Dawson Knox (Sit), Tyler Kroft (Sit)
The big news heading into this one is that Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore is out for the season with a partially torn quad which will require surgery. It might be easy to think that this news is great for Stefon Diggs, but if you’ve watched any of the Patriots this season you’ll know that Gilmore simply hasn’t been himself all year. J.C. Jackson will likely be shadowing Diggs this week, and his 8 interceptions are second in the league to Miami’s Xavien Howard. He’s tough, scrappy, and fast, and he’s easily been New England’s best corner this year. Diggs should still see enough volume for WR2 numbers, but a huge boom week isn’t likely. The guy I do like this week is Cole Beasley, who didn’t have a great game in their last matchup but did have a 25/14/183 line last year in two games against New England. He’s been on fire in recent weeks and if the Patriots try to take Diggs out of this game then Beasley should benefit.
The rest of these guys are a crapshoot and a lottery pick from a fantasy perspective. The Patriots have done a good job of containing TEs this season, so Dawson Knox and Tyler Kroft are very touchdown-dependent plays and I don’t like their chances this week. Gabriel Davis has been scoring touchdowns in John Brown‘s absence (four since Week 9), but the targets simply haven’t been there.
New England Patriots
Cam Newton (Sit)
What a disaster Cam has been this season. It started out so promising, but lately, it’s been like watching a car crash in slow motion. I’ve been saying all season how Cam’s mechanics are off and he hasn’t really done anything to fix them, but now it looks like he can’t throw the ball further than 15 yards without exerting 125% of his energy each time. Is it an injury? Maybe, given his history and that he’s been hit hard this season. I think many are quick to assume that it is an injury that’s to blame, but after watching 15 games of his this year I just think he’s lost a step and isn’t as good as he once was. From a fantasy perspective, this offense is too dimensional and defenses have keyed in on Cam’s running, which has impacted his fantasy output. He’s been a QB2 or better only twice in the past four weeks, and that inconsistency is NOT worth chasing in your championship matchup. Stay away from Cam this week.
Damien Harris (Sit, Flex), Sony Michel (Start, Flex), James White (Sit)
Damien Harris missed Week 14 against Miami after injuring his ankle the week before in Los Angeles. There hasn’t been any update about his availability for Monday night’s game yet but tread carefully with this one. The Patriots are notorious for being tight-lipped on injuries, and with this season going nowhere it may be in their best interest to sit their budding star at RB. I would steer clear from him this week unless we get the news that he’s full-go by Friday or Saturday, and even then he might still be limited in-game.
I think it’s more likely that we see a mix of Sony Michel and James White this week, both of whom looked like flashes of their past selves last week. Michel looked like a man out there to prove his worth after losing his job, and in an offense that is as ground-based as New England’s is, you could do worse. I like Michel as a sneaky flex play, but don’t go out of your way to start him if you don’t have to.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jakobi Meyers (Sit, Flex), Damiere Byrd (Sit), N’Keal Harry (Sit), Gunner Olszewski (Sit)
The only fantasy-relevant player in this receiving corps is Jakobi Meyers, and even then it’s based solely on volume. His only touchdown this year was one that he threw, not one that he caught, and he has to get 10+ targets in order to be worth starting, which has only happened three times this year. Given that the Bills’ run defense is slightly worse than their pass defense, I suspect that New England’s gameplan here will be to run it early and often in order to keep Josh Allen and company off the field as much as possible. That doesn’t make for a good outlook for Meyers, but I could be wrong here. His upside is as a Flex guy at best, and you should be looking elsewhere if you can.
-Ben Brown (@FelixTheDog23 on Twitter, iamatechnician on Reddit)