Game Overview ::
- This game pits two of the top three offenses in situation-neutral pass rates over the course of the full season (Buffalo ranked second at 62% and Kansas City ranked third at 59%). Each offense checked in at 62% during the second half of the season, which again ranked right behind Tampa Bay for tops in the league.
- Expect points to be scored here, as the Chiefs ranked first in drive success rate, first in plays per drive, first in yards per drive, and first in points per drive this season, while the Bills ranked fifth, seventh, 10th, and sixth, respectively.
- The Bills injury report is about as clean as it gets, with only defensive end Mario Addison making an appearance through Wednesday (limited).
- No current COVID concerns for the Bills.
- The Chiefs expect running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire back from injury. Darrel Williams missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday after attempting to play through injury last week. The only other player who failed to practice on Wednesday for the Chiefs was cornerback Rashad Fenton.
- No current COVID concerns for the Chiefs.
- Apologies upfront, this is one of my longer write-ups of the year. I felt diving into some of the nuance from this game warranted a deeper exploration than normal.
How buffalo Will Try To Win ::
This one is honestly a little more nuanced than most will give credit for this weekend, as the Chiefs have been trending towards a run-funnel defense of late (6.8 yards per carry allowed to the Broncos in Week 18, 5.2 allowed to the Steelers in Week 16, 4.9 allowed to the Chargers in Week 15). They have played much better defense at home this season (17.9 points allowed per game at home against 25.8 per game on the road) and have forced teams to attack the shorter areas of the field through the air (7.5 aDOT forced, NFL-average completion rate allowed). While we know the Bills have been one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the league from a game-planning perspective (second in the league in situation-neutral pass rates this year), we also know that Brian Daboll is one of the most efficient offensive minds in tailoring his offense to take advantage of what his opponent gives him. With that in mind, we should view this spot as carrying a rather wide range of outcomes, as far as what we think the likeliest scenario is for how Buffalo will try to win this game. It should not shock us to see the Bills come out and hammer the run game for the first half in an attempt to keep the ball away from the explosive offense of the Chiefs, against what should be considered their biggest defensive weakness. We also shouldn’t be shocked to see the Bills come out and try to go toe-to-toe with the pass offense of the Chiefs, knowing they have the league’s most efficient pass defense behind them. Leverage will come into play as we break down the rest of the Bills side below.
Devin Singletary’s snap rates over the last six Buffalo games, sorted from Week 14 to the Wildcard Round: 82%, 93%, 68%, 80%, 76%, and 86%. For comparison, he had just two games before Week 14 with a snap rate over 68%. His running back opportunities over that same six week period: 11, 23, 18, 24, 21, and 20. Before Week 14, his most opportunities in a game was 16, which he hit three times over the first 13 games. To say that the Bills have moved away from a backfield committee would be an understatement. Oh, and he also scored eight touchdowns from Week 14 on, compared to just two in the first 13 games of the season, including two touchdowns in each of his last three games. The Bills seem to have finally settled on their guy. The matchup on the ground yields a borderline elite 4.53 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Chiefs defense that allowed opposing backfields to post a healthy 24.3 fantasy points per game during the regular season. That total also included the fifth-most running back targets (131). Surprisingly enough, the Chiefs allowed only nine total touchdowns to running backs during the regular season, which was the second-fewest only to the Cardinals (tied with the Patriots). Behind Singletary, expect Zack Moss to operate in a low-upside, change of pace role, with fullback Reggie Gilliam playing a modest role in heavy sets. Of note, Matt Breida played exactly five offensive snaps over the previous five games and has been all but phased out of the offense entirely.
In the spirit of our exploration of Brian Daboll and his propensity to relentlessly attack his opponent’s weaknesses, let’s start by discussing what those weaknesses are for the Chiefs and their pass defense. The top-level defensive pass metrics for the Chiefs appear below average across the board at first glance, but digging a little deeper gives us a better glimpse into what is really happening here. They allowed a 15th-ranked 65.7% completion rate and fell below league average in yards allowed per pass attempt and yards allowed per completion; however, the vast majority of the damage inflating those yards allowed per pass attempt and yards allowed per completion values was due to YAC allowed, as the Chiefs ceded 2,500 total yards after catch over their 17-game season (over 147 per game!). Basically, the Chiefs have given up league-average completion rates and have done so by taking away the deep areas of the field. Where they clearly have struggled the most (as a defense) is with yards after catch from short-to-intermediate passing and the run game. The heavy Cover-0 and Cover-1 rates by the Chiefs have left significant gaps that talented opposing receivers can take advantage of, partly telling of how they have performed so poorly in the YAC department. Enter otherworldly man-beater Stefon Diggs, who should see about 40% of his snaps lined up across from man coverage this week. His snaps were managed last week in a blowout win over the Patriots but expect him back around the 80-95% snap rate range here. Gabriel Davis continued his string of increased snap rate games last week, but, again, it came in a blowout win where the Bills had the luxury of resting Emmanuel Sanders in only his second game action over the past five weeks. I tentatively expect Sanders to regain his role as the primary downfield threat on this offense, relegating Davis to his more moderate 30-40% snap rate role. Cole Beasley has long been considered one of the premier slot wide receivers against zone coverages, which he should see a good deal against a defense that mixes coverages based on down-and-distance to go. Don’t expect anything more than 50-60% of the offensive snaps in an offense that has the luxury of mixing pass-catching personnel. That leaves every-down tight end Dawson Knox and gadget wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie fighting for the proverbial scraps on a standard week. Of note, the Chiefs have been competent against tight ends this season after struggling with coverage of the position in years past, finishing the season in the middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed per game to the position.
How kansas city Will Try To Win ::
-Patrick Mahomes pass attempts in losses or games the Chiefs won by seven points or less (sorted from most recent): 44, 35, 47, 37, 48, 35, 54, 44, 31, and 36. That’s an average of 41.1 pass attempts per game in that split.
-Patrick Mahomes pass attempts in wins by eight points or more (sorted from most recent): 39, 30, 24, 29, 37, 47, 30. That’s an average of 33.7 pass attempts per game in that split.
The point of that exercise is to ground our minds back to the fact that this offense is still captained by Patrick Mahomes, and his head coach prefers to keep games in his hands for as long as they need to be. In one of the most anticipated games in recent memory, one that also should play rather close throughout, we should expect the play calling and offense overall to remain in Patrick Mahomes capable hands, regardless of their opponent. That’s an important realization to come to, considering the Chiefs face off against the league’s top-rated pass defense this week. Furthering that assertion are the unknowns surrounding their backfield this week, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire likely returning from a three-week absence, Darrel Williams appearing likely to miss this contest, and Jerick McKinnon three weeks removed from a six-week absence of his own (yea, the Chiefs side of this one is a little less nuanced than the Bills side, so this part of the write-up will be a little shorter).
As alluded to above, the run game has no less than three question marks surrounding everything from expected snap rates, to expected workloads, to expected rush rates. All we know is that CEH is due back, Darrel Williams is likely to miss, and the team has Jerick McKinnon and Derrick Gore on hand to mix in as required. Should both CEH and Williams play, we should expect a loose three-way timeshare as two of the primary members work their way back from injury. Should CEH return and Williams miss, we’re likely to see a tight-split duo made up of CEH and McKinnon, with Gore on hand for emergency duties. Should both CEH and Williams miss, we’re likely to see McKinnon once again run as the clear alpha and borderline every-down back. The matchup on the ground yields a well below average 4.095 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Bills defense that allowed just 21.7 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields in the regular season, including only 57 receptions allowed on 92 targets (yea, that was the fewest receptions allowed to opposing backfields in the league this year).
As per the previous discussion, expect the majority of responsibility to be placed on Patrick Mahomes and his pass-catchers here, which begs the question, how healthy are his pass-catchers? Travis Kelce played 79% of the offensive snaps or fewer in every game since the Chiefs Week 12 bye. Tyreek Hill returned to the lineup last week after fighting through a heel injury to play a “standard for him over the second half of the season” 77% of the offensive snaps. Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, and Demarcus Robinson have maintained situational roles over the second half of the season, with none of the three playing over 65% of the offensive snaps on a standard week. In addition to all of that, they now have to face the league’s number one rated pass defense. All of that to say, there are a good deal more unknowns surrounding this spot that we’re used to dealing with when we think of the Chiefs, and it remains to be seen how the field will handle the situation. The one positive stemming from this exploration is the absence of All-World cover corner Tre’Davious White, who was lost for the year earlier this season.
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Likeliest Game Flow ::
It is likeliest we see the Bills come out firing in a “prove it” game, but the percentage chances of that happening or only slightly greater than they are for them attempting to keep the ball away from Patrick Mahomes and company for most of the first half, through inflated rush rates and short-area passing. All of that to say, we really don’t know how the Bills will approach this one, an important realization to come to terms with considering they are the team likeliest to be driving the overall pace, game environment, and flow here. Furthermore, each team’s first possession is likely to dictate the ultimate path of this game, primarily due to the adaptability of each coaching staff. As in, if each team comes out and puts up points on their first drive, all bets are off, but if each team fails to cross midfield, we could see a more conservative game plan develop as each coach attempts to keep the ball away from the opposing offense. As such, and considering the fact that the field is highly likely to only consider this game through the lens of a shootout, I recommend starting your process this week by working through these various possibilities from this game before continuing on to other games, which will give you a better idea of how different rosters look with each Bills/Chiefs scenario fresh in your mind.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
BUF @ KC
By LexMiraglia10 >>
- Matchups since 2020: 26-17 KC // 38-24 KC // 38-20 BUF
- KC pass & non-QB rush att: 26 pass, 35 rush // 38 pass, 20 rush // 54 pass, 17 rush
- BUF pass & non-QB rush att: 27 pass, 15 rush // 48 pass, 11 rush // 26 pass, 17 rush
- QB rushing: Mahomes (10:36 // 5:5 // 8:61) // Allen (8:42 // 7:88 // 11:59:1)
- BUF allowed the fewest yds/drive on the 3rd fewest plays/drive allowed
- BUF finished 1st in def pass DVOA
- Including last week, BUF has allowed 14 pass TDs to 21 INT
- After getting through a shaky stretch middle of season, Mahomes has 17 TDs to 2 INT in the past six games
- Only QBs over just 200 yds vs BUF: Tua (205), Heinicke (212), Tanny (216), Mac (232), Mahomes (272), Brady (363)
- 9 QBs in 19 g threw for 300+ yds vs BUF in 2020, but just one through 18 g in 2021
- Mahomes vs BUF since 2020: 225:2 // 325:3 // 272:2:2
- Mahomes career in Div Rd: 278:0, 8:1 (IND) // 321:5, 53 (HOU) // 255:1, 14:1 (CLE)
- Tyreek Hill vs BUF: 2017 (7:41) // 2020 (3:20 // 9:172) // 2021 (7:63)
- Hill has finished above 60 rec yds in 45 of his 63 full games since 2018, but has three straight full games under 60 yds since coming back from Covid and subsequently getting hurt
- The final game scores of Hill’s 25+ pt scores since 2020: (35-9), (33-31), (35-31), (27-24), (33-27), (38-24), (33-29), (42-30), (20-17), (41-14), (34-28)
- Since 2019 (56 games), the quartet of Watkins, Hardman, Robinson, Pringle has produced just 8 scores of 20+ DK pts, with the biggest coming either during the absence of Hill or with him playing extremely limited snaps
- 3 of the 8 scores have come in the last four games in which Hill has been limited (Pringle x2, Hardman)
- BUF allowed the fewest WR DK pts/g (25.1)
- BUF allowed just six WR TDs, and 113.2 WR yds/g
- WRs with 8+ tg vs BUF: Diontae (36:1), Juju (52) // Parker (42), Waddle (48) // Hill (63), Hardman (76) // Brown (91) // Parker (85), Waddle (29) // Godwin (105) // Moore (48), Robby (29) // Meyers (59) // Bourne (77:2), Meyers (40)
- Bourne’s 7:77:2 in the WC round was the highest DK score BUF has allowed this year, but most of his production came when NE was already down huge
- Since 2020: Kelce has produced 70+ yds in 22/35 games, including 14 100yd games and 24 TDs
- In 2021, Kelce has scored 17+ DK pts in 9/17 games; 20+ in 6 games
- Since 2020: DK pts when Hill sub-15 DK pts: 22.5 // 30.6 // 22.8 // 26.9 // 20.4 // 17.7 // 12.5 // 17.8 // 5.7 // 5.7 // 13.4 // 13.4
- Since 2020: DK pts when Hill 25+ DK pts: 27.9 // 28.9 // 29.9 // 16.2 // 30.6 // 25.6 // 6.3 // 4.7 // 22.9 // 44.1
- BUF allowed the 6th lowest RZ success rate
- BUF allowed the 9th lowest success rate to TEs (compared to 6th & 2nd lowest to RBs & WRs)
- TEs to top 40+ yds vs BUF: Gesicki (41, 48) // Thomas (42:1) // Kelce (57:1) // Arnold (60) // Gronk (62) // Pitts (69)
- Kelce vs BUF: 2017 (3:39) // 2020 (5:65:2 // 13:118:2) // 2021 (6:57:1)
- Kelce playoff DK scores with Mahomes (low-high): 7.5 // 12.8 // 19.3 // 21.3 // 28.3 // 28.9 // 28.9 // 43.3 // 46.4
- Of BUF’s 14 RB rush TDs allowed, 11 of them came from Henry (3), Taylor (4), & Harris (4)
- The only other RB TDs scored vs BUF: rush (Carter, Fournette, Davis) // rec (Gibson, Taylor, Abdullah)
- KC RB TDs as main guy: CEH (6 TDs in 9 g) // Williams (6 TDs in 9 g) // McKinnon (2 TDs in 2 g)
- RBs with 50+ yds vs BUF: Gibson (104:1) // Henry (156:3) // Gaskin (55) // Hyde (73) // Carter (82:1) // Taylor (204:1) // Harris (111:1), Stevenson (78) // Fournette (132:1) // Abdullah (55:1) // Harris (103:3) // Davis (57:1), CPatt (52) // Stevenson (60)
- KC RBs games with 50+ yds: CEH (6) // Williams (9) // McKinnon (2) // Gore (2)
- At least one KC RB has 10+ rush att in 14 games (two RBs in 3 games)
- McKinnon receiving last two: 3:26:1 // 6:81:1
- BUF allowed the 3rd lowest yds/att & 4th lowest success rate on RB targets
- KC RBs total yds vs BUF since 2020::
- CEH: 169 // 7:1 // 24
- Williams: 41:1 // 61:1 // 45
- KC has allowed 17.9 ppg in 10 home games vs 25.75 ppg in 8 road games
- BUF scored 38 points at Arrowhead in W5, the most KC has given up in any game this year
- After a horrid start to the season, KC has allowed just one of the last 11 QBs to throw for 270+ yds (Burrow’s 446)
- Allen has thrown for 270+ yds in 8/18 games (7 of which are 300+)
- Top QBs passing vs KC: Lamar (239:1:2) // Herbert (281:4 // 236:2:1) // Allen (315:3) // Carr (261:2:1 // 263:1:1) // Dak (216:0:2) // Burrow (446:4)
- QB rushing vs KC: Lamar (107:2) // Herbert (16, 16:1) // Hurts (47) // Allen (59:1) // Tanny (6:1) // Love (23) // Lock (35:2)
- Allen has 13 games in 2021 of 30+ rush yds (8 of 50+)
- KC has allowed 2+ QB TDs in 11/18 games
- Allen has 15 games of 2+ TDs, 9 games of 3+ TDs
- Allen vs KC: 122:2:1, 41 // 287:2:1, 88 // 315:3, 59:1
- Allen in the playoffs::
- 2019: 264:0, 92, rec TD
- 2020: 324:2, 54:1 // 206:1, 3 // 287:2:1, 88
- 2021: 308:5, 66
- KC ranked 20th in def rush DVOA
- RBs with 80+ rush yds vs KC: Chubb (83:2) // Henry (86) // J Williams (102) // Jackson (86)
- Singletary has 6 games of 80+ rush yds (4 of the last 5 games)
- KC allowed the 4th highest success rate & 5th highest yds/att on RB tg
- RBs with 40+ rec yds vs KC: Ekeler (52:1) // Gainwell (58) // Moss (55) // McKissic (65) // Booker (65) // Dillon (44) // J Williams (76:1) // Jacobs (46)
- Singletary’s only games of 30+ rec yds: 7:43 in 6-9 L to JAC // 6:37 in 27-33 L to TB // 5:39 in 33-21 W vs NE
- Singletary’s touches since W12: 16 // 10 // 11 // 23 // 18 // 24 // 21 // 20
- Singletary’s yds in those games: 48 // 36 // 89 // 96:1 // 78:1 // 110:2 // 112:2 // 94:2
- Singletary’s DK pts in those games: 5.8 // 3.6 // 14.9 // 16.6 // 18.8 // 26 // 25.2 // 24.4
- BUF RBs total yds vs KC::
- Singletary: 45 // 26 // 23
- Moss: 10 // – // 92
- Diggs has 70+ yds in 8/18 games after reaching 70+ yds in 15/18 games in 2020
- Diggs has six 20+ pt DK scores this year (21.4, 23.9, 33.2, 20.4, 21.5, 23.1) after 10 in 18 games in 2020
- Diggs had 25+ DK pts in 7 games last year
- Diggs has 25+ DK pts in just 1 game this year (33.2 vs NYJ)
- Diggs 1st & 3rd highest scoring games came against the Jets, a defense allowing 34.3 DK pts/g to WRs and ranked 32nd in def pass DVOA
- After allowing the 2nd fewest WR DK pts/g in 2019 & 2020, KC allowed 36.7 DK pts/g to WRs and ranked 23rd in def pass DVOA in 2021
- KC’s final rank in weighted DVOA was 13th, which weighs more heavily the more recent games
- KC allowed the 10th lowest success rate to WRs
- Tg since W10: Sanders (2, 5, 3, 6, 1, -, 4, -, -, 3 :: 24) // Davis (3, 4, 3, 4, 8, 7, -, 3, 14, 3 :: 49) // Beasley (2, 5, 5, 3, 11, 8, – , 6, 5, 1 :: 46) // McKenzie (3, 0, 0, 0, 1, 2, 12, 2, 1, 3)
- Beasley has one game of 50+ yds in that span (9:64 vs TB)
- Davis has two games of 50+ yds in that span (3:105 vs NYJ // 5:85:2 vs CAR)
- Sanders surpassed 30 yds last week for the first time in that span (2:36:1)
- McKenzie’s two best games both came against the slow NE defense, though his big one came with both Davis & Beasley out
- BUF WRs vs KC since 2020::
- Diggs: 6:46:1 // 6:77 // 2:69
- Beasley: 4:45:1 // 7:88 // 1:5
- Davis: 1:7 // 0:0 // 1:16
- Sanders: 4:76 (w/ NOR) // 3:54:2
- Knox has sub-10 DK pts in 9 games
- Knox’s other 7 games: 4:49:1 // 5:37:2 // 3:117:1 // 6:80 // 3:32:2 // 7:60:1 // 5:89:2
- TEs with 10+ DK pts vs KC: Njoku (10.6) // Andrews (10.7) // Goedert (16.6), Ertz (12) // Knox (23.7) // RSJ (15.8) // Pruitt (10.7) // Engram (10.5) // Schultz (11.3)
- KC allowed the 9th highest success rate to TEs