Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- The Falcons currently have 12 players on the league’s COVID list, most notably wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, tight end Hayden Hurst, and three defensive linemen.
- The Bills are down to only two players on the COVID list and are getting back wide receivers Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis.
- After scoring three or more touchdowns four of their first six games, the Falcons have done so only three times over their past nine contests.
- Buffalo has scored 30 or more points in nine of their 15 contests this year.
- Brian Daboll’s offense has evolved again this season, which has tripped up some of the field up to this point in the season – I still don’t think the majority of the field understands what is happening here yet.
How Atlanta Will Try To Win ::
The Falcons hold a top-ten overall pass rate of 60% this season, which “drops” to 57% when playing with a lead and “increases” to 64% when playing from behind. I highlighted the two keywords in that last sentence to drive home the fact that this offense has been extremely static and not very adaptable this year (that is one of the lowest deltas in the league). With that understanding, and combine it with Atlanta’s moderate pace of play (ninth situation-neutral and 18th overall), we’re left with a rather tight range of expected outcomes when it comes to total offensive plays run from scrimmage, game environment, and overall fantasy allure in Falcons games. That is important to understand because it drives home the fact that the Falcons are highly unlikely to push the Bills in this game, which the field is highly unlikely to realize.
The run game has continued to evolve this season, but we know a few things with absolute certainty. The first is that the Falcons do not view Mike Davis as an integral part of this offense. Even when Cordarrelle Patterson missed Week 11, Davis played only 48% of the offensive snaps and ceded work to Qadree Ollison (as in, they played the same number of snaps). Woof alert. The second is that Patterson’s role has changed from “gadget” to “more prototypical running back” over the second half of the season, meaning he is being schemed less work through the air and seeing more work between the tackles. And lastly, this backfield is likely to remain a timeshare regardless of game flow, active members of the backfield, or offensive success. The matchup on the ground yields a laughable 3.825 net-adjusted line yards metric, rendering all of these guys of very little interest.
Tajae Sharpe missed last week’s contest on the COVID list and has yet to return this week (as of Thursday), leading to an increased snap rate for Olamide Zaccheaus and some run for Christian Blake. Keep an eye on his status as the week progresses, as he is likely to jump back into a 75-80% role should he return. The skinny here, though, is that the Falcons have only three primary play-makers, and they have recently hamstrung even that with the change in utilization of Cordarrelle Patterson. That has left only Russell Gage and Kyle Pitts as viable pass-catchers on a weekly basis, and opposing defenses know this as well. They have absolutely keyed in on these two over the previous eight weeks, leaving the two with a combined three games of any fantasy relevance over that time period. The scheme of this offense has been atrocious all season, and it seems just as they are figuring things out, they either change something on their own, an injury shifts things for them, or COVID decimates their personnel. I didn’t mean for this to turn into a “let’s all shit on the Falcons” for a paragraph, but here we are. It has become pretty simple with this team of late: Pitts and Gage can be played for their roles, but the floors are scary-low.
How Buffalo Will Try to win ::
The best way to gain a glimpse into how the Bills are approaching games recently is to look at their personnel alignments over the previous month of play. In Weeks 14 and 16, against the Patriots and Buccaneers, the Bills ran exclusively 11- and 21-personnel sets, while in Weeks 13 and 15, against the Panthers and Patriots (the Nor’easter game), the Bills decreased their 11-personnel rates in order to get two tight ends on the field more (increased 12-personnel rates). Why is this important? Well, game planning and game management have long been stable in Brian Daboll offenses, altering things ever so slightly based on their opponent for that week. In the past that simply meant the same high level of pass rates with varying flows of least resistance, whereas this season we’ve seen that transform into wildly varying pass rates in neutral-to-positive game environments. That’s important to understand, particularly this week in a game against a Falcons team that has struggled to put points up on the scoreboard. I would take an educated guess that we see increased 12-personnel usage rates, increased snaps for Tommy Sweeney, and a slight hit to the snap rates of Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. I would also guess this would be another week where the Bills continue their trend of keeping only two non-special teams running backs active on game day, with Matt Breida the most likely to sit once more.
Continuing that discussion, the Bills have kept only two of Devin Singletary, Zach Moss, and Matt Breida active on game days in each of the last three games. In those games, Singletary has played snap rates of 82%, 93%, and 68%, parlaying those snaps into opportunity counts of 11 (seven targets), 23 (one target), and 18 (six targets). The low rush attempt and increased target games came against the Bucs and Patriots, two top-tier run defenses, while the increased rush attempt game came against the run-funnel Panthers in a game the Bills controlled throughout. What that tells me is that we should expect Singletary to carry a borderline elite snap rate role here, but that we should regard him more as a yardage and touchdown back in games that the Bills control handily. As such, pay particular attention to the story your roster is telling should you decide to go here this week. Behind Singletary, expect Moss (or Breida) to fill a typical change of pace role. The matchup on the ground yields an above average 4.435 net-adjusted line yards metric against an Atlanta defense allowing 25.8 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields.
With all primary pass-catchers once again healthy for the Bills, expect Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders to settle into a 75-85% snap rate, Cole Beasley to settle into a 60-70% snap rate, and Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie to be on hand for any “light” personnel alignments (that is, alignments with no tight end or an empty backfield). Dawson Knox should fill his standard every-down role, while I expect Tommy Sweeney to jump back up to a 25-35% snap rate in “heavy” alignments (more than one tight end on the field). Quarterback Josh Allen has one of the widest ranges of potential pass attempts of any quarterback in the league, regularly failing to surpass 30 pass attempts in positive game script games (five times already this year), and leaping up to 47 or more pass attempts in games the Bills are pushed offensively (also five times this year). That makes building around the game environment paramount when placing any Bills players on rosters this year, and this week is different.
Likeliest Game flow ::
The Bills have made their money through score suppression and takeaways on defense this season, having held eight different opponents to 17 points or less so far (said another way, half of the Bills opponents have failed to score more than 17 points this season – remarkable). And since we’ve accurately identified a shift in offensive game planning and play calling dependent on both their opponent and game flow, we can confidently build around various game environments with the Bills because we know what to expect in each situation. This week, against a Falcons team that has failed to consistently score points this season, the likeliest scenario leaves the Bills controlling this game with their defense, thusly creating a situation where we see increased rush rates, decreased pass volume, and a game environment lacking cost-considered upside (as has been the case for half of the Bills games this year). That said, Devin Singletary has failed to eclipse 100 yards rushing in any game this year in what should be primarily a yardage-and-touchdown role in positive game environments. On the other hand, we should expect increased pass volume from the Bills that truly opens up this game environment overall should the Falcons be able to put up points on the scoreboard. Keep those diverging paths in mind when building this week in one of the higher-profile spots on the slate.
TOP PLAYS OF THE WEEKEND
SORTABLE GREEN ZONE TOUCHES
TEAM & PLAYER DK POINTS
DFS+ Interpretation ::
By LexMiraglia10 >>
- ATL is ranked 29th in def pass DVOA
- ATL has allowed the 7th most completions, but just the 16th most pass yds
- 10/15 QBs have topped 225 pass yds vs ATL
- 5/15 QBs have topped 275 pass yds vs ATL
- Allen has thrown for 225+ yds in 11/15 games, and all 6 of his games of 275+ yds have gone for 300+ yds
- ATL has allowed 28 pass TDs to 9 INT
- ATL has allowed 2+ TDs to 7/15 QBs
- Allen has 12 games of 2+ TDs, 8 games of 3+ TDs
- QB rushing vs ATL: Hurts (62) // Jones (39) // Heinicke (43) // Tua (29) // Darnold (66) // Dak (TD) // Lawrence (39) // Cam (47:1)
- Allen has 8 rush TDs in every previous season of his career (4 so far in 2021)
- Allen has 10 games in 2021 of 30+ rush yds (5 of 50+)
- Diggs has 70+ yds in 7/15 games after reaching 70+ yds in 15/18 games in 2020
- Diggs has five 20+ pt DK scores this year (21.4, 23.9, 33.2, 20.4, 21.5) after 10 in 18 games in 2020
- Diggs now has 25+ DK pts with BUF in 8 of 34 games, with just one so far in 15 g in 2021
- Sanders hasn’t reached 15 DK pts since W5 and he caught 2 TDs both times he did
- Sanders hasn’t reached 30 rec yds since W9
- WRs with 20+ DK pts vs ATL: Evans (75:2) // McLaurin (123:2) // Lamb (94:2) // Godwin (143) // Robby (84:1) // St. Brown (91:1)
- Others with 70+ yds vs ATL: Smith (71:1) // Evans (99) // Waddle (83) // Moore (84)
- ATL has allowed the 7th highest success rate to WRs on the 11th most WR tg
- Knox has 3/13 games with 8+ tg, 8/13 games with 4+ tg, and 12/13 games with 3+ tg
- Knox has 9 TDs in 13 games
- Knox has 40+ yds in 5/13 games
- ATL has allowed the 11th highest success rate to TEs on the 9th fewest TE tg
- TEs with 40+ yds vs ATL: Goedert (42:1) // Gronk (40:2) // Gesicki (85:1) // Trautman (47) // Gronk (58:2) // Kittle (93)
- Brate is the only other TE to score vs ATL
- Singletary’s touches since W12: 16 // 10 // 11 // 23 // 18
- Singletary’s yds in those games: 48 // 36 // 89 // 96:1 // 78:1
- Singletary has just three scores of 15+ DK pts on season (17.1, 16.6, 18.8)
- RBs with 80+ yds vs ATL: Sanders (113) // Saquon (94:1) // Hubbard (91:1) // AK (104:1) // Pollard (98) // JRob (115) // Fournette (92:1) // Wilson (119:1)
- ATL has allowed a RB TD in 11/15 games
- BUF ranks 2nd in def pass DVOA
- BUF has allowed just 11 pass TDs to 19 INT
- Only QBs over just 200 yds vs BUF: Tua (205), Heinicke (212), Tanny (216), Mahomes (272), Brady (363)
- Brady’s 300+ yd game came with the benefit of OT, but also in BUF’s first game without Tre’Davious White
- Ryan’s pass yds since losing Ridley: 146 // 343 // 117 // 153 // 190 // 297 // 190 // 236 // 215
- Ryan’s DK scores since losing Ridley: 8.1, 31.5, 2.7, 4.1, 11.2, 12.1, 11.9, 14.4, 13.1
- ATL is implied for just 15 points
- BUF has allowed the fewest WR DK pts/g (26.3)
- BUF has allowed just five WR TDs, and 119 WR yds/g
- Gage since returning: 67:1 // 0 // 64 // 0 // 49 // 62:1 // 130 // 64 // 91:1 // 39
- Gage has 15+ DK pts four times: 16.7, 18.2, 26, 23.1
- All four of those defenses allow 10+ DK pts/g more than BUF
- BUF has allowed the 6th lowest success rate to TEs
- TEs to top 40+ yds vs BUF: Gesicki (41, 48) // Thomas (42:1) // Kelce (57:1) // Arnold (60) // Gronk (62)
- Pitts targets without Ridley: 10, 6, 7, 7, 5, 6, 7, 6, 7, 6
- Pitts without Ridley: 9:119:1 // 2:13 // 3:62 // 4:60 // 3:29 // 2:26 // 4:48 // 5:61 // 4:77 // 6:102
- BUF has allowed the 7th most RB rush TDs (13), though 10 of the 13 came from Henry, Taylor, & Harris alone
- CPatt has 11 TDs on the season, with three multi-TD games
- BUF ranks 14th in def rush DVOA
- 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)
- CPatt has 50+ yds in 11/13 full games
- CPatt has just 36 yds total in the last two games vs TB & DET
- Davis actually doubled his rushing output last week (28 yds to 14 yds) on same amount of carries
- Davis has just one game all season of 15+ DK pts (16.9)