If you’re looking for excitement, Bills at Titans carries the lowest total on the main slate.
State of this matchup ::
Somewhat quietly, the Bills currently have the third best record in the AFC, behind only the Chiefs and Patriots. And while this record is largely a product of a soft schedule to open the year, the Bills still get to play three more games this year against the Jets and the Dolphins — and they have the pieces on defense and in the coaching room to be a legitimate playoff contender if they win those winnable games and simply need to go 4-5 across the rest of their schedule.
On the other side of this game, the Titans are currently in a four-way tie in a wide-open AFC South, with Bill O’Brien trying to sink the Texans, Frank Reich and Mike Vrabel doing what they can to outperform roster-based expectations, and the Jags full of question marks all the way around. The Titans are a legitimate playoff contender as well given the division they are in and their ability to scheme wins against less sophisticated opponent — making this a fun game from a “football” perspective, even it’s likely to be a DFS dud.
Buffalo Offense v Tennessee Defense ::
We know that the Tennessee defense likes to blitz the quarterback and disguise both their pass rush and their coverage — so if you’re the Bills, you may actually be hoping that Josh Allen fails to clear concussion protocol in time for this game. (As of Wednesday, Allen is progressing but not yet a sure thing.) If Allen plays, there will be opportunities for big plays to John Brown (or possibly even Robert Foster, who continues to see one or two looks per game), but there will also be opportunities for the Titans to capitalize on Allen mistakes. If it’s Barkley under center, this game becomes far less chaotic; there will still be potential for mistakes — but these will be more from arm limitations than from head-scratching decisions.
The Titans have also been (unsurprisingly) stout against the run so far — though teams have been able to move the ball against the Titans by running up the gut. If Devin Singletary is back on the field this week, it isn’t impossible for him to hit a big play (he has looked really good when healthy this year), but the spot itself sets up better for Frank Gore, who should continue to be something of a focal point this week in this opponent-specific Buffalo offense.
If Allen misses, we should also expect a dose of movement and misdirection (with a few wide receiver rushes) to try to get the Titans out of position; though given Barkley’s lack of mobility against this stout Titans defense, it’s hard to see many paths to a score big enough to prove worthy of a roster spot from this group.
Tennessee Offense v Buffalo Defense ::
The Titans’ side of this game is very clear:
Buffalo continues to be one of the toughest matchups for opposing passing attacks, while being “more attackable” on the ground, while the Titans prefer to keep the ball on the ground on offense anyway, and should be happy to lean in that direction in this spot. The Tennessee passing attack, as always, is simply hoping you guess right on an outlier — and that outlier would be even more extreme with the Bills coming to town.
The run game also shakes out pretty quickly for us, as Derrick Henry is almost always in play in tourneys for his ability to bust multiple long runs and/or score multiple touchdowns, but with his limited pass game role (and this game carrying the lowest Over/Under on the slate), he’s a player to avoid in cash games.
As for the matchup for Henry: Buffalo has euthanized runs up the middle so far this year, but runs to the edge have given them trouble. Nearly 50% of Henry’s runs have gone to the edge so far (47.4%), so there is no reason for the matchup to scare you so much as you should be cautious with Henry’s actual role.
JM’s Interpretation ::
The offensive pieces in this game should be kept far away from cash game rosters, and there is a clear case to be made for all of these pieces being kept off tighter tourney builds as well. As always in a game like this (well…as always in any game — but especially in a game like this, where the “misses” can miss hard due to the stout defenses), the only plays worth thinking about in tourneys are those with slate-breaking potential. The player in this game likeliest to reach that level of production is Henry, with the next likeliest being Josh Allen if he plays, and/or John Brown (who could honestly hit with Barkley as well; Barkley was more willing to push the ball downfield in his spot starts last year than most probably remember) — though given how much there is to like at quarterback and how unlikely it is that this game turns into a shootout, even Allen becomes unattractive for the risk you would have to absorb when there are 30-point ceilings to target in better spots; and there are other overlooked wideouts with a better shot at a monster game than John Brown. Perhaps the other “best path to a big game” is Dawson Knox — simply because you don’t need a whole lot at his price on DraftKings and FantasyDraft. Knox played 53 of a possible 78 snaps last week and has seen four and three targets the last two weeks. Tyler Kroft is looking unlikely to give it a go, and there are probably worse ways to take pivot-shots than this.