XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 5 brings us another London game with the Bills traveling to take on the Jaguars, who have been there since last week. I’m curious how staying overseas will help the Jags, if at all . . . maybe some edge just due to having had more time to adjust to the time zone difference? I don’t know how to quantify that but as someone who’s traveled to Europe a fair number of times, I could see it being impactful. Anyhow, this game has a 48.5 total with Buffalo favored by 5.5. The Bills have been rolling to start the season. After being stifled by the Jets elite defense in Week 1, they’ve scored 38, 37, and 48 points (albeit against fairly weak opposition). The Jags, on the other hand, have struggled offensively. They put up a healthy 31 against the Colts in Week 1, but have then scored just 9, 17, and 16 offensive points over the last three weeks (they had a defensive touchdown in the Falcons game last week). We can have pretty solid confidence that the Bills will score, and the question of how this game will play out depends on whether the Jags can break out of their offensive woes.
On the Bills side, just when it looked like they were using James Cook in a real RB1 role, he disappeared in Week 4 with just 40% of the snaps (vs. at least 59% in every other game) and 13 running back opportunities (at least 18 in every other game). I expect, however, that this was due more to the Bills absolutely crushing the Dolphins, as the game was 31-14 at halftime, and Cook had nine carries in the first half and just three in the second. The Bills have often perplexed us with their backfield usage but my best guess is that if the game is competitive, Cook’s role looks more like what he had in Weeks 1-3 than what he had in Week 4. Latavius Murray and Damien Harris will back up Cook, with Murray seeing more snaps and opportunities in every game than Harris. Both are viable options as “running backs who are on the field in Showdown,” with Murray being the overall preferred play and both of them looking like stronger options if we’re building for the Bills to romp.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, we know how the Bills operate: 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. The dude’s a badass, he’s averaging just shy of ten targets per game on the season with four touchdowns and three games of 100+ receiving yards. At $11,800, 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 18 targets on the season, he’s overpriced for his volume at $7,200 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 but it’s hard for me to click this on a slate with a lot of strong offensive plays at his price. Sherfield is interesting as a floor/value play as he’s on the field quite a bit and is just $800. So far Sherfield’s role hasn’t translated to a lot of targets but he’s someone I’d be comfortable with as a value option in cash and in tournaments, you’re just hoping he gets into the end zone. 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 $1,200, he has at least two catches in each game, and that makes him more than a complete punt play. The tight ends Kincaid and Knox are also interesting at their prices, especially Kincaid, who is being used more like a wide receiver and is averaging a reasonable 4.25 targets per game so far. 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 Kincaid, then Davis, Knox, Sherfield, and finally Shakir.