Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- Stefon Diggs against man coverage = feast
- We might see 80 pass attempts combined in this game
- Diontae Johnson sets up well to avoid lockdown corner Tre’Davious White
- Correlated wide receiver pairings from this game are likely to go underowned
How Pittsburgh Will Try To Win ::
The biggest change out of Pittsburgh this season is the promotion of Matt Canada to offensive coordinator. Canada wants to simplify the offense and incorporate a pistol backfield paired with pace of play. Pistol can make the offense appear less predictable to an opposing defense; and this is, in my opinion, the best way to play to the personnel and identity of this team (aging Ben Roethlisberger, dynamic rookie running back Najee Harris, dynamic receiving corps, and a serviceable tight end). Pistol should also facilitate more play action, power, inside zone, and pin and pull rushes, while getting playmakers into space. Last season, the Steelers ranked sixth in the NFL in pace of play, while holding PFF’s 31st ranked offensive line. They added a dynamic running back and we should expect this team to look similar at first glance, but improve on their dreadful efficiency from 2020 through the incorporation of a more dynamic offense (ranked just 25th in drive success rate).
On the ground, expect a better mix of rushing concepts than we saw last year with a more straight-line James Conner. The pistol offense (basically, a hybrid shotgun) allows this team to appear less predictable when it comes to the run game but it also helps keep Big Ben off-center due to his limited mobility. My expectation for Najee Harris is that we see more of a legacy Le’Veon Bell type usage and production, with a stable floor of five to six targets per game, and a ceiling for more depending on game flow. The matchup on the ground should be considered a neutral one, but the expected struggles of this offensive line should not be understated.
The Steelers finished 2020 second in the league in 11-personnel usage at 75%, just one spot behind the Bengals. While I expect that to continue, I don’t expect them to target running backs at a lowly 12.4% clip. As such, look for their ridiculous 70.4% wide receiver target rate to dip some this season, making the situation one to monitor for where those targets flow. We’re liable to see the same pass volume moving forward and an increase to drive success rate, meaning more scoring opportunities through the air. I expect Diontae Johnson to man the slot from 11 and shift “outside” when the team brings in other packages, meaning Juju Smith-Schuster is the likeliest wide receiver to see a hit to both snap rates and production. Perimeter wide receiver Chase Claypool should see a good deal of lockdown corner Tre’Davious White here, making Johnson the best bet for funneled targets. His floor is amongst the highest on the slate at the wide receiver position, bringing a solid ceiling as well.
How Buffalo Will Try To Win ::
We know with a high level of certainty how this offense will look heading into 2021. Expect elevated pass rates from 11-personnel (tied for third in the NFL in 2020 in 11-personnel rates at 71%) and four-wide sets (second in the NFL in 2020 at 15%), power rushes and rushes off the edge when they do run, and layered and intertwined route trees designed to get the first read open. Stefon Diggs should play primarily perimeter, Cole Beasley should play only slot, Emmanuel Sanders should move all over the formation as Brian Daboll’s “Queen piece,” and Gabriel Davis should see between 45-60% of the snaps weekly as an additional perimeter threat.
The matchup on the ground is a net-negative for the Buffalo run game, which almost doesn’t matter at this point based on Brian Daboll’s propensity to keep the pressure on through the air. The Steelers allowed a middling 4.3 average yards per rush attempt and return standout nose tackle Tyson Alualu. Betting on this committee backfield, one in which quarterback Josh Allen is the best bet for red zone rushing, is a bet on an extreme outlier.
The loss of corner Mike Hilton and outside linebacker Bud Dupree is a sizable hit to the Steel Napkin (get it, it’s smaller than a curtain? Ok, bad joke, got it). The Steelers should be most attackable over the interior of the defense and deep middle of the field as they play heavy man coverages with high blitz rates. Buffalo ranked fifth in the league in sack rate allowed at just 4.8%, so they should be well equipped to deal with the Steelers blitz rates here. Stefon Diggs against man coverage is simply not fair, as evidenced by his eruption when these teams played last season. The Steelers inside-out defensive philosophy makes Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders tough to bet on, while Gabriel Davis should be considered a low floor, moderate upside play.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
The best part about pitting two teams near the top of the league in pass rates: all the additional offensive plays run from scrimmage and possessions we should see here. It is likeliest the Bills have an easier time moving the ball to start here as the Steelers search for their new offensive identity under Canada. Diggs against man coverage is a cheat code and he sets up well for a nice game. The propensity for Daboll to keep his foot on the gas means this is likely to keep pressure on Pittsburgh to keep up offensively, which is a boost to Diontae Johnson inside. Najee Harris is likely to see additional targets filtered his way as well in this game flow, especially if the Steelers enter desperation mode; and there is nothing on the Buffalo defense that should scare us away from a pass-catching running back.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson are the premier plays from this one, a game where we can expect elevated pass attempts from both sides. Najee Harris trails the two slightly in expected range of outcomes, but has a double-digit target day within his range of outcomes and is sure to be underowned relative to that kind of PPR upside. That previous sentiment rings true for all members of this game, actually, as I can’t see any individual piece carrying heavy ownership here.
All of Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, Chase Claypool, and Juju Smith-Schuster are better left off late week condensed player pools, as players that are less likely for volume to flow through them.
The Bills struggled in 2020 covering opposing tight ends so consider Steelers tight end Eric Ebron a viable low cost / low ownership tight end play that would likely require paint for utility.
Pittsburgh allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks in 2020, and not much has changed as far as expectations moving forward go, making Josh Allen a speculative bet at best. Ben Roethlisberger’s ceiling is capped by the low intended air yards and lack of mobility, at this stage of his career.
When hunting for upside, there are several things we can look for…and this game checks most of those boxes. Offenses with elite, “score from anywhere on the field” weapons? Check. Offenses willing to try to win by maximizing points scored? Check. Offenses that are pass-centric? Check (check, check, check).
If isolating individual plays from this game, Diggs and our old friend Diontae are (as Hilow noted) the premier pieces. Najee Harris is also very much in the “tight player pool” mix for me.
This is also a game that can be considered from a “game environment” standpoint :: building a block of rosters that bet on different ways in which this game could play out. From this standpoint, Claypool’s “score from anywhere on the field” upside keeps him in the mix, while Josh Allen also gets added to the player pool.
Given the type of score you typically need in order to win a tournament in Week 1 (due to loose pricing, and the multitude of high-end scores someone is going to ultimately find a way to vacuum onto a single roster), the “bet on floor and hope for multiple touchdowns” game of Beasley, Sanders, and JuJu is tougher for me to get behind; but if I were going with a heavy bet on this game environment popping off, I would definitely mix in these guys a little bit as a hedge against what I’m actually wanting to focus on from this game: building (for example) 10% to 15% of my game-focused rosters in such a way that they account for the possibility of multiple touchdowns flowing to an unexpected piece.
MAKE OWS FREE!
<< 2 Easy Ways >>
By Alex88 >>
- The Bills offense ranked second in the league in expected points added last season
- The Steelers defense led the league in pressure rate at 56.5%
- The Steelers defense received the 2nd best PFF grade overall in 2020
- The Bills offense received the 3rd best PFF grade overall in 2020
- Ben set career lows in average yards per attempt (6.3, 38th in the league) & depth of target (7.4 yards, 32nd in the league), in 2020
- Ben had 40.5 passes per game in 2020, second most in the league
- 16.3% of Ben’s throws went over 15 yards downfield, 30th in the NFL
- Ben connected on only 35.4% of those passes, 33rd in the NFL
- DK points in road games last regular season: 22.1 // 15.6 // 15.3 // 28 // 17.7 // 15.5 (@ BUF) // 8.7
- In all games with 48+ point totals: 19.2 // 21.4 // 15.6 // 15.3 // 28.5
- Steelers WRs collectively led the league in targets per game (28.7), receptions per game (18.6), and receiving TDs (30)
- They ranked seventh in yardage per game (193.5)
- JuJu Smith-Schuster’s average depth of target in the 3 seasons prior to 2020: 9.8, 9.3, 10.1
- JuJu’s ADoT in 2020: 6.0
- JuJu’s DK points on the road in 2020 regular season: 24.9 // 17.5 // 13.7 // 21.3 // 5.9 // 17.5 (@ BUF) // 3.5 // 18.5
- Chase Claypool had 36 deep targets in his rookie season. His teammates JuJu & Diontae Johnson combined for 38
- Claypool and Ben completed 27.8% of those deep targets
- Claypool led rookie WRs in TDs with 11 total (9 receiving, 2 rushing)
- In 16 games (only 6 of which was he listed as a starter), Claypool averaged 6.8 targets, 3.9 receptions, and 54.6 yards
- Claypool’s DK points during the regular season (*=starter): 6.7 // 17.8 // 3.4 // 45.6* // 18.1 // 0.8* // 14.2 // 15.3 // 21.3 // 15.9 // 11.2 // 5.8* // 4.5* (@ BUF) // 7.8 // 9.4* // 24.1*
- Diontae Johnson was fifth in targets at the position (9.6) and 11th in receptions (5.9) per game, in his second season in the league
- Diontae ranked 28th in receiving yardage per game (61.5)
- Diontae’s DK points in games with 25+ snaps last season: 10.7 // 23.2 // 49 // 1.6 // 14.1 // 26.6 // 26.1 // 12.6 // 21.1 // 8 (@ BUF) // 19.9 // 21.6 // 12.6
- In 2020, Eric Ebron’s DK points on the road with 30+ snaps: 2.8 // 11 // 14.8 // 11.2 // 13.6 // 7 (@ BUF)
- When contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage in 2020, Harris averaged 1.7 yards per carry (26th out of 78 qualifying RBs)
- In 2020, Steelers RBs were contacted at or behind the line on 42% of carries
- Steelers Week 1 offensive line PFF overall grades & experience/age from LT to RT: 69.7 (‘21 fourth round draft pick) // 66.2, 28th/80 guards (‘20 fourth round draft pick) // 88.0 (‘21 third round draft pick) // 34.8, 79th/80 guards (‘14 third round draft pick) // 57.4, 70th/79 tackles (‘18 third round draft pick)
- In the last two seasons at Alabama, Harris ran for 1,528 & 1,891 yards and 50 total TDs
- Harris had 66% of the Alabama touches in ‘20, highest share of any RB in his draft class
- Harris caught 43 passes in ‘20. The only other RBs his size since 2000 that had more were Saquon Barkley & Steven Jackson
- In 2019, the Bills were the worst passing offense when not using play-action (6.2 yards per attempt, 42% success, -0.12 expected points added per attempt)
- They were one of three offenses to be below average passing without play-action, and above average passing with play action
- In 2020, the Bills used play-action on 34% of their passes, second highest rate in the league. With play-action in 2020, they averaged 8.4 YPA, 56% success, and 0.22 EPA/att
- Bills passing offense finished third in EPA, second in success rate, fourth in yards per pass attempt, and seventh in yards per completion
- Allen completed 69.2% of his passes in 2020, for 4,544 yards and 37 TDs
- Last regular season, he averaged 35.8 passing attempts, 284 passing yards, 2.3 passing TDs, 6.4 rushing attempts, 26.3 rushing yards, and 0.5 rushing TDs per game
- Allen was the league’s eighth best QB under pressure last year
- Allen’s DK points at home in 2020: 33.2 // 36.2 // 16.1 // 13.5 // 39 // 17.5 // 19.3 (vs. PIT) // 20.3
- DK points in all games with 48+ point totals: 37.5 // 36.2 // 25.4 // 18.3 // 39 // 29.4 // 34.1 // 40.7 // 20.3
- In 2020, Buffalo ran 4 WR sets second most often in the league, 186 plays. They ran 4 WR set plays in 2019 a total of four times
- Last year, Stefon Diggs led the NFL in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535)
- Diggs averaged 10.4 targets, 7.9 receptions, 95.9 yards in 16 games last season
- Diggs only managed 8 TDs in 2020
- Diggs DK points in 48+ point total games: 32.3 // 14.9 // 20.5 // 23.6 // 23.8 // 25.3 // 19.2 // 28.7 // 14.6
- Diggs scored 32.1 DK points at home vs. PIT last season. That total came with only 1 TD, in game that totaled only 41 points
- Cole Beasley led the NFL in receiving yards from the slot (948)
- Cole averaged 7.1 targets, 5.5 receptions, and 64.5 yards in 15 games last year
- Cole’s DK points in 48+ point total games: 12 // 19 // 12.2 // 11.3 // 6.9 // 30.9 // 31 // 22.2
- Cole scored 9.1 DK points at home vs. PIT last year
- In seven games without Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders caught 40 passes for 511 yards, and scored 2 TDs on 22.9% of the New Orleans Saints team targets
- In the other seven games, his line was 21-215-3
- Sanders DK points with Thomas inactive in 2020: 2.8 // 15.6 // 15.3 // 27.2 // 11.6 // 13.5 // 21.3
- Gabriel Davis DK points in 48+ point total games in 2020: 7.6 // 12.1 // 9.6 // 10.8 // 17 // 0 // 15.8 // 3.8 // 21.7
- Gabriel scored 10.9 DK points at home vs. PIT last year
- Bills RBs combined for 21.5 touches per game last year (30th), for 106.7 yards from scrimmage (28th)
- Bills RBs combined for an average 5.0 yards per touch (12th)
- In 13 games as a rookie, Zack Moss had 126 touches (9.7 per game), 576 yards (44.3), and 5 TDs
- Devin Singletary out-touched Moss 142-126 in their games played together, but Moss eight opportunities inside of the five yard line, to Singletary’s three
- Moss DK points in 48+ point total games: 3.7 // 12.8 // 2.7 // 2.4 // 8.1 // 3.1
- Singletary’s DK points in 48+ point total games: 9.6 // 16.1 // 18.7 // 4.3 // 6.4 // 2 // 11.3 // 17.4 // 2.3