XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football has the Giants visiting the Bills for a 44 total game with Buffalo favored by . . . wait for it . . . 15 points. FIFTEEN. These are the fun ones to write up. For those of you doing the math at home, that means Buffalo is implied for 29.75 points while New York is at 14.25, one of the lower totals I’ve ever had the misfortune of writing up. But there are giant tournaments to be won, so let’s see if we can figure out how to do it.
We’ll start with the Bills so that I can procrastinate the mental and emotional pain that will soon be coming my way. As we know from previous Bills writeups, James Cook is the lead back, but both Latavius Murray and Damien Harris have real roles as well. Cook’s role has been reasonable this year for the most part, with opportunity counts of 18, 21, 18, 13, and 9. I’m willing to set aside the nine opportunities last week as it was a London game against the Jags in which the Bills were down early and their offense looked flat throughout, leading to elevated pass attempts for Josh Allen. No Bills running back saw much usage in that game, so it wasn’t like Cook’s role shrunk and someone else’s grew – they just didn’t run. As massive home favorites, they should be expected to run more in this one. Cook’s receiving role is strong with 3+ targets in four of five games. But, with his price at $9,200, there are some things we need to be a little bit nervous about. First, Cook’s lowest snap count of the year came in Week 4, when the Bills absolutely blew out the Dolphins. That led to more runs for Murray and Harris at Cook’s expense, and guess what a likely outcome this week is? That’s right, another blowout. Second, Cook’s red zone role is not great. The Bills have 28 total rush attempts inside the red zone on the year, with eight belonging to Cook, eight to Allen, and six each to Murray and Harris. The backup RBs are seeing significant red zone usage as a percentage of their total touches, and combined they have three rushing touchdowns to Cook’s one. As a huge home favorite running back with solid passing game work, I want to love Cook, but the red zone usage and uncertainty around workload (it’s tough to project for him for 20+ touches in a non-competitive game) make me shy away a bit at his price. The matchup is so good that I’m not going to X Cook out of rosters but he’s at his all-time high salary in Showdown this week, and while he does have the ceiling to deliver (see Week 2, 22.9 DK points without a touchdown), I feel like his ownership is likely to exceed his likelihood of really hitting. Murray and Harris are viable pieces, especially seeing as how their roles may expand in a blowout, and they’re both cheap. I think if I were building Bills onslaught rosters, given how popular that construction will be, I would allow Murray and Harris on a roster together (but would max 2 of the 3 Bills RBs in total).
Ownership updates automatically
Stef Diggs is the alpha receiver and then it’s a merry-go-round behind him. There’s not really much to say about Diggs, dude’s a badass, he’s averaging ten targets per game on the season with five touchdowns and four games of 100+ receiving yards. At $12,200, he’s priced like a true alpha, but he is one. He’s the best position player in this game but he’s awfully expensive and there are plenty of other viable options, so while he’s a strong play, he’s hardly a must play (in both cash and tournaments). In order of snap count, the rest of the wide receiver group is Gabe Davis, Trent Sherfield, Deonte Harty, and Khalil Shakir, with tight end being manned by Dawson Knox, Dalton Kincaid, and Quintin Morris. Plus, Cook and Murray both have some passing game role. Once you get past Diggs, this offense spreads the ball around quite a bit, leaving it hard to have a high degree of confidence in any one pass catcher. Davis is on the field the most but with just 26 targets on the season, he’s overpriced for his volume at $7,800 and highly reliant on scoring a touchdown (preferably a long one) in order to hit. His deep threat role gives him upside on relatively modest volume. I will say I like him more in this game than the London one in which I wrote about him, just because there aren’t as many strong offensive options priced around him. Sherfield is a low floor, low ceiling option, as while he’s on the field a fair bit, he has just seven targets on the season. Harty and Shakir will both be on the field less than Sherfield, but both should still be involved in the passing game, with Harty actually averaging three targets per game despite his limited snap count. Harty is a guy whose role I expect will grow over the course of the season, and in those situations, I generally want to try to be early and get on a guy before the role change occurs. He’s plenty cheap at $600, he has at least two catches in each game, and that makes him more than a complete punt play. Shakir is less talented than Harty and plays a shorter-area role, leaving him as a touchdown-or-bust punt play. Worth noting is that the Bills pulled back on Sherfield last week, with just 18% of the snaps, though that translated to more heavy personnel sets rather than more run for Harty and Shakir.
At tight end, both Kincaid and Knox are questionable. Kincaid has a concussion, and we have yet to see a concussed player play in the next week’s game as it seems the NFL is (finally) taking a more conservative approach to this type of injury, so I’m guessing he’s out. I think Knox is likely to play as he has gotten in limited practices all week. Kincaid being out doesn’t help Knox as much as you might think, because the Bills had used Kincaid like a wide receiver much of the time. It does boost Knox some, but I think it also boosts the WR3 role as that’s where Kincaid has spent a decent chunk of his time lining up (hi, Harty!). Morris is just a blocker without a target on the season. This is a tough offense to untangle because of how spread out it is behind Diggs, but I would say Harty is my next favorite option given his price, then Davis, Knox, Shakir, and Sherfield.