BILLS // JETS OVERVIEW
The “Battle for the Bottom of the AFC East” will take place without much national viewership or DFS attention, as the 2-7 Bills and the 3-6 Jets have been awarded a laughably low early-week Over/Under of 37.0. Incredibly, there is room for this total to drop a bit further given how inept each team is on offense and how solid the Bills are on defense. If the Bills’ quarterbacks can keep from turning the ball over (a major “if,” of course), this could turn into an absolute snooze-fest. No team has scored fewer points per game than the Bills (10.7), and only the Cardinals have piled up fewer yards per game. On the other side of the ball, the Bills’ defense has allowed the third fewest yards per game — with their middling “points allowed” total the byproduct of so many turnovers from their offense providing short fields for opponents.
Each team prefers to lean toward the run, with below-average pass play rates in spite of playing most of their games from behind. Each offense ranks bottom three in drive success rate, and Buffalo ranks 23rd in red zone touchdown rate while the Jets rank 32nd.
BILLS PASS OFFENSE
The Bills’ passing attack is averaging a league-low 5.5 yards per pass attempt, with a league-low 151 passing yards per game. Through nine games, the Bills have only 161 completed passes (17.89 per game). “Best yardage games” from this offense look like this:
Incredibly, Terrelle Pryor finished second among wide receivers in snaps in Week 9 (behind only Zay), after getting signed off the street. He turned five targets into two catches for 17 yards.
The Jets have been slightly above-average against the pass this year, allowing a below-average catch rate and a below-average aDOT. They rank 22nd in adjusted sack rate, but with aggressive-minded Todd Bowles at the helm, this team ranks seventh in the league in takeaways. The Bills rank 29th in adjusted sack rate on offense, and they have given the ball away more times than any other team in the league. There will be a slightly higher likelihood of high-value turnovers if Nathan Peterman somehow ends up under center again this week, though it appears likely that Josh Allen will miss another week and Derek Anderson will get cleared from his concussion in time to play. Anderson is only a slightly better option than Peterman, while Allen is the only quarterback who will have any significant hope of moving this offense.
BILLS RUN OFFENSE
Regardless of who is under center, expect the Bills to lean run-heavy in what should be one of the rare games in which they are able to keep things close (or possibly even play with a lead).
The Jets have allowed a middling 4.03 yards per carry to running backs, while also ranking middle of the pack in receptions and receiving yards allowed to the position. Consider this a neutral draw for LeSean McCoy, though realize that he had only 14 touches last week to 10 for Chris Ivory — while playing only 37 of 91 snaps (ceding 30 snaps to Ivory and 24 to Marcus Murphy). Ivory dislocated his shoulder and may miss time — but as long as he is healthy, this should be viewed as a 65/35 backfield split on early downs (with the fat side of that split belonging to McCoy), with Murphy soaking up most third down work. Encouragingly, McCoy does have five or more targets in all but three games this year — though this entire committee has incredibly seen only three carries all season inside the five-yard-line.
The obvious starting point for this writeup is to note that Sam Darnold has yet to crack even 20.0 fantasy points in a game this season, and the Bills have allowed the third fewest fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. Buffalo ranks third in the league in yards allowed per pass attempt, and only the pass defenses of the Ravens and the supposedly-crumbling Jaguars have allowed fewer yards per game. The Jets’ offensive line has held up this year (12th in adjusted sack rate), but their offense has been generous to opponents with the ball — with the third most giveaways in the NFL. Expect each team to turn the ball over a few times in this game, and for points to pile up from short fields rather than from sustained drives. This brings up a point we emphasize from time to time: fantasy scoring comes from more than just “touchdowns.” Yards and volume (targets, carries, etc.) are valuable as well, making this a thin game all the way around.
NOTE: Darnold is now set to miss, and Josh McCown will take over under center. This is a slight upgrade to this offense across the board, but it still leaves the under-talented Jets against an elite pass defense. Nothing much changes in expectations for players in this “attack.”
If targeting short-field scoring on this offense, your best bet is to look to the running backs, as there are only four teams in the NFL (the Browns, Bucs, Cardinals, and Chiefs) who have allowed more touchdowns to the position. (On the other hand: only six teams have given up fewer wide receiver touchdowns than the Bills.) The Jets rank 23rd in yards per carry, but they rank seventh in the NFL in rush attempts, and 15.7% of completions from Sam Darnold have gone to backs as well. Last week, Isaiah Crowell played only 23 snaps while Elijah McGuire played 36. McGuire also ran 27 pass routes to only nine for Crow, giving him more overall upside. If considering this spot, it is worth noting that (as with the rest of the Buffalo defense), the issue for the Bills has been short fields, rather than sustained production; in spite of all the touchdowns to running backs, only five teams are allowing fewer yards per carry than the Bills.
Quincy Enunwa returned last week to play 34 snaps on the perimeter and only 14 snaps in the slot, with Jermaine Kearse locking down the interior routes. It’s difficult to say whether the Bills will see Enunwa or Robby Anderson as the shadow-worthy piece for Tre’Davious White (or if they will simply let White play his side and take on whichever guy happens to line up across from him). Either way, this is a difficult draw for the perimeter options against a defense allowing the eighth fewest yards in the NFL, on the strength of the fourth-shallowest opponent aDOT and the fifth lowest opponent YAC/R rate in the league.
The best way to pick up yards through the air against the Bills is with interior routes. Kearse has seen a healthy 21 targets across the last three weeks…leading to six total catches for 50 scoreless yards.
Chris Herndon, Eric Tomlinson, and Jordan Leggett continue to rotate at tight end. Herndon did ascend to a 63.6% snap rate last week. He has recent target counts of 2 // 7 // 2 // 4. Buffalo has been above-average against the tight end, but they are not a shutdown force against the position.
I will continue avoiding the Bills’ offense (a profitable approach all season so far), though depending on how value shakes out on this slate, McCoy may need to be considered at a high-water mark of only 9.33% of the salary cap on FanDuel (9.0% on DK; 8.8% on FDraft). Value would have to be extremely thin before I would consider this on my Main Build, but if Ivory misses, McCoy will gain value, and it’s not impossible that he puts up a solid game in this spot.
I have also been largely avoiding offensive players against the Bills, and a game against the Jets is unlikely to jolt me out of this approach. McGuire could potentially provide cheap exposure to a safe point-per-dollar floor — but last week was a special circumstance for considering McGuire, with how little there was to love from a “value” standpoint on the slate, and with McGuire likely to produce around nine to 10 points for an affordable price. In a tougher matchup, with what appears to be more to like on this slate, everyone on this Jets offense will be a tough sell for me.
Unsurprisingly, rostering DST units against either of these offenses has been profitable throughout the year, and that will likely remain the case this week. Both defenses are in play, with sacks and turnovers likely to pile up.