If you were on One Week Season last year, I’m sure you remember how much we loved the Bills offense down the stretch (there were four times in the final six weeks when some version of this passing stack posted a week-winning score) – and you may also recall that in the two games in that stretch in which the Bills failed to go off, we were able to foresee a lower likelihood of success and invest less heavily in this offense. But if you don’t recall all of that – or if you weren’t here last season – you can go HERE for the full breakdown of what to expect from this team. One simple way to sum up this offense is:
“This offense wants the deep ball.”
This offense is coordinated by Brian Daboll (who has coached under Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, while studying offense under Josh McDaniels and Andy Reid) – and while the execution was imprecise at times last year (and was at other times downright clunky), the concepts were exciting and aggressive, and at the helm of it all was Josh Allen, who would begin scrambling the moment his first read was covered and either take off running or chuck the ball downfield.
The games in which Allen and this offense fell apart down the stretch last year (and in which we can expect them to have a tougher time this year) came against disciplined, well-coached defenses that also ranked near the top of the league in fewest rushing yards allowed to quarterbacks.
This week, Buffalo travels to take on Gregg Williams and his obsession with attacking (in preseason, Williams blitzed like crazy in an effort to hide a secondary that has as many question marks as any in the league), and we can expect Brian Daboll to use some of that aggressiveness in an effort to spring big plays.
Daboll won’t attack through the air as often as he should in this matchup, as one of his unfortunate shortcomings is a tendency to be too risk-averse whenever he is not taking shots downfield; but he should attack often enough for the upside on this offense to be very real.
The potential for this game to develop into something exciting is also enhanced by what we expect to see from the new look Jets. Although Adam Gase has not exactly been forthcoming this offseason regarding what we will see from the Jets, we should (as explored at a deeper level HERE) actually see him shift far away from the slow-playing tendencies he had with the Dolphins. This season, with his ascendant quarterback and his intriguing stable of weapons, Gase is expected to pick up the pace, put pressure on defenses, and potentially even show no huddle looks throughout. With Chris Herndon suspended the first few games of the year, the Jets should focus primarily on four weapons: Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Le’Veon Bell, and Ty Montgomery.
Anderson has the toughest matchup (last year, the Bills allowed the sixth fewest wide receiver receptions and the fewest wide receiver yards, while giving up the fewest pass plays in the league of 20+ yards), though the fact that Gase wants to use Anderson all over the field this year is at least enough for him to not be crossed off our list just yet (more on this below). Crowder will match up in the slot with new addition Captain Munnerlyn – not a shy-away matchup, though not a matchup we would typically go out of our way to target, either [Note :: Munnerlyn has since been released; BUF is a tough team to target with wideouts, but the slot will remain the strongest way to target them]. Crowder should have a solid target floor, and while he will need a broken play or a touchdown for ceiling, he has enough of a path to upside to at least be considered in large field tournaments – especially if you go out of your way to stack this game.
At running back for the Jets, playing time is the big mystery. We shouldn’t expect Bell to take over the 95% role he had with the Steelers, but it is a total guessing game right now as to exactly how much work he will see. After Gase took a much worse on-paper Dolphins team to the playoffs three years ago in his first year in Miami, he is surely entering this season with genuine playoff aspirations, which may lock Bell in as around a 70% player early in the year, allowing him to contribute to this offense while also keeping his legs fresh for a potential playoff run. The chances of Bell falling shy of true workhorse usage are further enhanced by how much this team likes Montgomery. If Bell plays around 70%, Montgomery would likely play around 40% – overlapping with Bell on the field a bit, and taking anywhere from 6 to 8 touches of his own most weeks.
Note :: With LeSean McCoy having been cut, the Bills backfield is down to Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon, and Devin Singletary. Gore is 36 years old; Yeldon had a really poor summer, and most beat writers didn’t expect him to make the team; and Singletary was a revelation in camp, performing above expectations and doing all the little things right. Early in the season, we should expect Gore to rack up anywhere from six to 10 carries, and to likely operate as the short-yardage back, which steals some juice from Singletary; but it should be considered a surprise if Yeldon touches the ball many times, and with the Bills preferring to build their offense off the run, Singletary could easily step into 14 touches in Week 1, with upside for more. He’s not a safe play (the matchup favors the pass; the Bills are road dogs; and there is guesswork on Singletary’s touches), but don’t cross him off your list if you are looking to MME. He’d be worth a shot on 10% or 15% of rosters.
JM’s Interpretation ::
Given the narrow distribution of touches in the passing attack for the Bills and the way this matchup tilts in their favor, I’m sure I will (surprise surprise) have interest in this attack this week. John Brown should settle in at around 5 to 7 targets most weeks, with his work primarily coming on valuable downfield looks. Cole Beasley has also become a favorite target for Allen this summer, and he should settle in at around 6 to 8 looks most weeks – providing floor and occasional touchdown-driven upside. And Zay Jones is the wildcard, likely third in the pecking order now, but still with opportunities for spiked-target (and spiked-production) weeks. In tournaments this week, it is viable to go Allen naked, or to stack this offense in big and small ways. Because of the upside this offense has, and because of how low they are priced and how rarely they are targeted in the DFS community, there is almost no losing right now when you target this team in tournaments: even if they have a bad game one week, that simply lowers their prices and ownership for the next time they go off. Honestly (not that I can, in good conscience, publicly recommend this), I was even comfortable rolling with Bills stacks in cash games down the stretch last year, and I won’t be surprised if that carries over to this year as well.
On the other side, the Bills defense is fundamentally good enough that I won’t be looking to isolate Jets players as individual tournament pieces (especially not on main rosters in smaller field and single entry tournaments), but there is enough underpriced/overlooked juice to this offense that I will almost certainly include some full-on game stacks if I execute any MME play. In that scenario, Anderson would become intriguing, as he is the likeliest catalyst for this game turning into a true shootout: with his big-play upside potentially leading to quick scores, and to the Bills having to increase their aggressiveness in response. (Also — not that this will be a particularly popular or highly-owned game to begin with — but if you wanted to really do something different in a large field tournament, you could stack the Bills passing attack on the same roster as the Jets defense. We know about Allen’s decision-making and turnover issues, and if the Jets happened to score a defensive touchdown off of an Allen mistake, it would only increase the need for the Bills to turn to the pass in order to catch back up.)
I expect to have zero interest in the backfields, as we are unlikely to see a week-winning score from any of the backs in this game (the Bills are expected to open the year with a timeshare that may stretch to three separate players :: see new note above Interpretation || and we’ve already covered the Jets); though there are certainly less likely paths in this game that could lead to one of the backs posting a big score, if for some reason you felt compelled to chase off the board in that direction.