Last week against the Jets, the Bills showed a willingness to ask, “What is our best way to win this specific game?” Of course, this sounds like an obvious approach, but the majority of teams in the NFL don’t do this. The majority of teams practice their scheme and then put it up against the opponent, while coaches like Belichick/McDaniels, Mike Vrabel, Doug Pederson, Frank Reich, Andy Reid, and others try to figure out each week what it will take for them to win that particular game, and then adjust to that. If Daboll carries that over to this week (keep in mind, he has coached under both Belichick and Reid — and while the Bills didn’t show many opponent-specific adjustments on offense last year, they were also developing a very raw rookie), it’s interesting to ask “What is the best way to win this game?”
With Eli Manning’s limitations as a downfield passer, and with his ability to limit turnovers with sound decision-making, the best way for the Bills to win would be with an aggressive offensive approach that tries to leave the Giants in catch-up mode. (On the other hand, against a younger, mistake-prone quarterback, it might make more sense for the Bills to lean on the run and force the opponent into mistakes against their solid defense, and take a lead this way.) The matchup sets up nicely for this as well, as the Giants are shaping up to have one of the lesser pass rushes in the NFL, and they don’t have the pieces in the secondary to hang for long periods of time. The Giants were also one of the man-heaviest coverage units in the NFL last year (which is not only better for Allen’s rushing upside, but is also better for his passing, as Beasley and Brown can both shake open in man coverage, and Allen won’t have to read the coverages as much to find his open man).
How are the Giants likely to play this on defense?
In Week 1, with the threat of both Dak and Zeke/Pollard on the ground, the Giants kept bodies in the box, close to the line of scrimmage, in an effort to confuse blocking schemes, while backing off the line of scrimmage in the secondary to keep eyes on the backfield. These are both staples of James Bettcher’s defense, and we should see him deploy plenty of those looks this week. This should allow Allen to pick apart the Giants in the shorter areas in the early going before taking some shots downfield (likely over the middle, where the Giants are weakest) as the game moves along; and while Bettcher’s blitzes will likely get to Allen a few times, they will also create a few opportunities for him to either extend plays and hit shots downfield, or to take off running and pad his floor on the ground.
Because of the weekly uncertainty of how the points on this team will be distributed (whether through Allen’s legs or through the air; and if through the air, then to which receiver? — all of which is part of the reason we prefer these guys in a block in smaller-field and single entry contests, rather than as individual pieces), and because of how much intriguing value there is on this slate in other spots (all on top of the fact that we don’t know for certain that Daboll will indeed lean pass-heavy again), this block may prove to be more Tier 3 than Tier 1 for me this week. But as always, I love the upside in tourneys; and the upside on Brown // Allen as solo pieces can be considered as well.
As for exciting rookie Devin Singletary :: there are too many unknowns for him to be considered safe, even at his depressed price. But :: last week he played 45 of a possible 66 snaps, and he ran 38 of a possible 47 pass routes. If the Giants play back a bit more and try to take away the pass at the sacrifice of the run, Singletary could prove to be a really useful piece in tourneys. A 20+ point game is only about a 7% or 8% bet, but it’s at least in play.
The Giants, meanwhile, are incredibly easy to break down right now, as they have such a narrow range of viable players to distribute touches to. Evan Engram. Saquon Barkley. Sterling Shepard — or, if he misses, Cody Latimer.
Engram had an aDOT of 5.1 last week (reminiscent of the aDOT of 3.0 Jamison Crowder had in this matchup a week ago), and if Shep misses, we should expect Engram to soak up targets and be used as the underneath option. This type of usage limits paths to upside, and it’s tough to call his floor “high” when he’s on the road vs a good defense that won’t necessarily filter targets his way; but volume should be great enough that you can still credit him with paths to upside.
The best matchup goes to Saquon, as the way to attack the Bills is on the ground, where the Bills are fairly average. “Fairly average” is enough to make Saquon one of the strongest raw-point plays on the weekend, and he’s viable in all formats (as is almost always the case). After Pat Shurmur’s criminal underutilization of Saquon last week (including a particularly galling sequence where they went fullback dive on third-and-two and Eli bootleg on fourth-and-two), it’s also fair to expect an overcorrection this week.
Finally: if you want to chase Latimer or Bennie Fowler should Shep miss, realize that week-winning scores vs the Buffalo secondary are immensely rare, especially on the perimeter. You’re guessing-and-hoping for a broken play here.
JM’s Interpretation ::
There is so much value this week, it’s difficult for me to lock in the Bills block on the front end of the week the way I felt I could last week. Allen // Brown // possibly Beasley // definitely the full stack is all Tier 3, and can be considered for the big upside in tourneys of all sizes. We’ll see if the block as a whole makes its way into Tier 1 this week or not…
Saquon is lock-and-load as always in this spot, with a high floor and a high ceiling given his skill set and expected usage. The fact that this game should stay close is beneficial to his cause.
We shouldn’t be nearly as drawn to Engram as we were last week, when he just looked like (by far) the most obvious TE play on the slate. He’s fine for tourneys, but I wouldn’t dust him off in cash.
And there are viable scenarios to build around with Singletary; but outside of those large-field tourney shots, there isn’t anything else in this game that I expect to be drawn toward this week.
You must be logged in to view collective notes about a game.
You must be logged in to add notes about a game.