Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- Very limited ways for the Bills offense to fail here
- Stefon Diggs leads the league in air yards per game with 140.0 but has largely disappointed thus far
- Public perception and recency bias might tilt the field towards the Buffalo run game
- Extremely tough matchup for the Texans to keep pace, but if they do, it is likeliest to flow through Brandin Cooks (and a game stack is likely to carry minuscule ownership)
How Houston Will Try To Win ::
Houston combines elevated rush rates with a moderate pace of play in an attempt to keep pressure off a defense allowing over 385 yards of total offense per game. The biggest issue for this Texans team is a defensive line allowing the second highest adjusted line yards and fourth highest running back yards per attempt in the league. Their lack of talent at the linebacker position has also led to the second most second-level yards allowed. The secondary has actually performed quite well considering the overall lack of talent, allowing a middle-of-the-pack 66.04% completion rate in coverage and 11.5 yards per completion. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills hasn’t performed particularly well in relief of injured starter Tyrod Taylor and the team shouldn’t be expected for more than 55-60 offensive snaps on a standard week. In other words, based on what we know and have seen from this team, a standard week would yield 28-32 rush attempts and 27-30 pass attempts.
The four-headed running back conglomerate is loosely led by Mark Ingram II and David Johnson, with the latter used more heavily through the air. Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead soak up 15-20% of the offensive snaps and typically are reserved for change of pace duties. It’s an interesting concept to have a change of pace back for both the run game and the pass game, yet here we are. The matchup on the ground yields a ghastly 3.225 net-adjusted line yards metric against a stout defensive front, but we should expect the Texans to approach this game the same way considering their antiquated coaching staff and scheme. Basically, the Texans will try and win games on the ground until otherwise forced, but the problem for them is they are expected to be “otherwise forced” early in most games.
Targeted on a massive 43.5% of Mills’ pass attempts, wide receiver Brandin Cooks sits at fifth in the NFL in total targets through three weeks with 32. Considering Danny Amendola started his second consecutive week with a DNP and rookie wide receiver Nico Collins is on the IR, all signs point to yet another double-digit target game for Mr. Cooks here. The problem this week is he’ll be running routes in the primary coverage of All-World corner Tre’Davious White, and against a secondary including Levi Wallace, Micah Hyde, Taron Johnson, and Jordan Poyer. Expect Cooks’ efficiency to suffer as a result. Cooks will likely be joined by Chris Conley (five total targets on the season) and Anthony Miller (six targets in his first game action in Week 3) in the starting lineup for the second straight week. At the tight end position, all of Pharoah Brown, Jordan Akins, and Antony Auclair see meaningful snaps. None are viable weekly options.
How Buffalo Will Try To Win ::
Buffalo has won their previous two games rather handily after opening the year with a home loss against the Steelers. In those two games, the Bills held a situation-neutral pass rate of 60%, down from 68% in their Week 1 game, which is important information when considering the high likelihood they control this game from start to finish. That said, the Bills have run 85 (!!!), 63, and 71 offensive plays during the first three weeks, meaning chances are high we see another 70+ play game here. That would lead to a likeliest scenario of 40-42 pass attempts from quarterback Josh Allen (43 in Week 3 and 33 in a Week 2 shutout in which they ran only 63 offensive plays). All of that to say, pass volume is still likely to be there in a game we expect the Bills to run away with.
Yes, running back Zach Moss has scored 17.1 and 18.1 fantasy points over the previous two weeks, but he has done that on 28% and 56% of the offensive snaps. There is nothing to indicate Devin Singletary’s role will be reduced moving forward (although whether it should or not isn’t really up for debate), so Moss is going to have to maintain unreal efficiency and score multiple touchdowns to be someone worthy of your rosters. Furthermore, the Bills rank behind only the Football Team in wide receiver target rate to begin the year and check in with only a 13% running back target rate. All of this comes together to leave me with little interest in any part of this running back stable, even in a game the Bills are expected to handily control.
As highlighted above, the main cogs in this Bills pass attack are the wide receivers (13% running back target rate and 12% tight end target rate). What most people are not going to realize this week is just how close Stefon Diggs is to an eruption game. Diggs currently leads the NFL in air yards per game at 140.0, has 32 targets and zero drops, has an aDOT of 13.1, holds a 26.2% team target market share, and 36.4% of the team’s available air yards. He has primarily been dragged down by an inexplicably low 68.8% catchable target rate. It’s coming and I want to be early to this party rather than late. There is nothing in the matchup that should slow this passing attack down, which means my total interest in this side of the ball will come down to expected ownership prior to lock. As expected from the preseason team primers, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders leads the team in snap rate and is being moved all over the formation. Cole Beasley has seen snap rates of 66% and 60% in the two previous blowout wins, while Gabriel Davis has been relegated to “best WR4 in the NFL” status, playing 32% and 29% of the offensive snaps the previous two weeks.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
It is likeliest the Bills control this game from start to finish. A conservative head coach and coaching staff that likes to run the ball, with a poor on-paper run matchup and a rookie third-string quarterback do not raise one’s confidence in the Texans here. But what we need to understand is that does not necessarily equate to a drastic decrease in expected pass volume for the Bills, assuming some outlier performance from the defense does not transpire (as in, the defense doesn’t score two defensive touchdowns and provide more time of possession for the Texans). Furthermore, the likeliest way for Buffalo to establish a lead is through the passing game, meaning the very unique scenario where the defense provides an outlier performance and two of the three first touchdowns come from the Buffalo run game is the only way this passing game fails here (the Bills aren’t going to fail to score points here).
DFS+ Interpretation ::
By LexMiraglia10 >>
- HOU has scored 16 points in 6 quarters with Davis Mills
- BUF has allowed 16, 0, & 21 offensive points to PIT, MIA, & WAS offenses
- BUF is favored by 16.5 points and HOU has the lowest total on the slate (15.75)
- After underwhelming the first two weeks, Allen finally got on track vs WAS for 358 yds, 4 TD, 1 rush TD
- QBs vs HOU: Lawrence (332:3:3) // Mayfield (213:1:1, rush TD) // Darnold (304:0, 2 rush TD)
- Allen has 8+ rush TDs in every season
- Since last year, Allen has 25+ DK pts in 4/8 games when BUF is implied for 27+ pts (25.4, 40.7, 35.3, 35.4)
- BUF pts in the big games vs the others: (30, 48, 39, 27) vs (16, 18, 27, 16)
- WR targets: Diggs (14, 8, 10) // Beasley (13, 4, 13) // Sanders (8, 6, 6)
- WR aDOT: Diggs (12.78) // Beasley (5.57) // Sanders (16.9)
- WR yds: Diggs (69, 60, 62) // Beasley (60, 36, 98) // Sanders (52, 48, 94)
- Diggs has 10+ targets in 13/22 games with BUF and 8+ targets in 7 more (6 & 7 in the only two games below 8)
- WRs with 9 tg vs HOU: Chark (3:86:1) // MJJ (5:77:1) // Viska (7:50) // Moore (8:126)
- Diggs has 9 games of 100+ yds with BUF, and 3 more with 90+ yds
- Diggs with BUF when favored by at least a TD (DK pts): 10.8 // 44.5 // 27.8 // 12.2
- Knox has 4, 3, 5 targets in 2021
- Knox DK pts with 4+ targets since 2020: 3.6 // 12.7 // 7.4 // 11.6 // 8.1 // 4.9 // 16.2 // 8.1 // 14.9
- TEs vs HOU: JAC (7:70:1) // CLE (11:107) // CAR (3:53, rush TD)
- Rush att: Singletary (11, 13, 11) // Moss (–, 8, 13)
- Targets: Singletary (5, 3, 2) // Moss (–, 2, 3)
- RZ touches: Singletary (2, 3, 3) // Moss (–, 4, 6)
- DK pts: Singletary (11, 17.1, 3.6) // Moss (–, 16.4, 18.1)
- Backfields vs HOU are averaging 152.7 total yds; HOU allowed a league-high 190.9 yds/g in 2020 so that’s a positive increase for the Texans
- QBs vs BUF: Big Ben (188:1) // Brissett (169:0:1) // Heinicke (212:2:2)
- Mills has totaled 270:1:1 in six quarters of play
- 116 QBs since 2014 on teams implied for 16 pts or less are averaging 10.9 DK pts
- The highest WR score vs BUF (from PIT, MIA, WAS) is Diontae Johnson’s 14.6 DK pts
- McLaurin has the most WR yds vs BUF so far (62)
- Cooks in 2021: 5:132 // 9:78:1 // 9:112
- Cooks has 7, 14, & 11 targets
- WRs with 7+ tg vs BUF: Juju (4:52), Diontae (5:36:1) // Waddle (6:48), Parker (5:42) // McLaurin (4:62)
- Cooks only games vs BUF came in 2017, McDermott’s first year, and he totaled 36 yds on 4 rec in the two games
- Backfields rush yds vs BUF: PIT (45) // MIA (63) // WAS (54)
- Ingram has led in rush yds each week: 85 // 41 // 21