The NFL Playoffs are here, welcome to Wild Card Weekend! Congrats to you for making it through (and hopefully profiting from) a long 18-week season. With time of the essence and the three-day playoff slate on tap for us, we’ll have two installments of WTL to give you some angles we can play to be different from the field.
One viable strategy we can deploy in a two-game slate on Saturday is to treat each of these games as if they were showdown/one-game slates. I believe Hilow first mentioned this earlier this season, but it does ring true. On a two or three-game slate, it’s easy to resort to a traditional build, going after the floor and upside to find the guys who we feel comfortable with and who tell specific stories together on our rosters. There’s merit to this approach. However, what are we looking for in showdown slates? We’re looking for touchdowns. We want guys who will be on the field at least a little bit, and who have a possible shot at a touchdown. I want us to think in terms of touchdowns, and touchdowns only this weekend. Let’s go hunting…
* morning, 1/15/22
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I can feel you cringing. A starting running back against an opposing defense?! You’re cringing because you’re used to a norm. You want correlation, you want comfort. I’m sorry friends, this space is for the opposite. We want to be where the field isn’t, for the right reasons, to zoom past the rosters of the herd when our low percentage outcomes hit.
There’s an argument to be made that the Bills come out extremely pass-heavy in this game. They could not run the ball well in either matchup with New England this season (Singletary only averaged 37.5 rushing yards), and they let Allen carry them to a dominant win in the Week 16 matchup. If we look back to the playoffs a season ago, when Buffalo reached the AFC Championship Game, they deployed the same strategy. However, they did not reach the mountaintop last season (Super Bowl) which is important to note because it seems unlikely they would then choose to become the same team (a team with essentially a non-existent rushing game) in the playoffs this season. We can add in the fact they are currently riding a four-game winning streak, and they’ve had great balance to the offense during that stretch with Singletary averaging 21.5 touches. With the expected absence of DT Christian Barmore, there is no reason to stop riding the Singletary bus in this game.
If you want some correlation with Singletary, we can predict Buffalo getting out to a lead and the Patriots having to ditch their preferred run-first approach. If this happens, and it takes New England completely out of their comfort zone, Jakobi Meyers, with his nine-target average over his past four games, comes in at a nice price with a floor and upside. In a poor weather game against a defense whose philosophy is to keep everything in front of them, Meyers is the Patriots pass-catcher in the best matchup.
And finally, the New England defense. This is simply a play of finding a good defense (4th DVOA) in a matchup where the QB (Allen) can be turnover prone and should have higher ownership than this defense, at relatively low ownership. Playing the Patriots defense, should they get any defensive touchdowns, gives you the combination punches we look for, pulling your rosters up the standings while pushing Josh Allen and Buffalo defensive rosters down. I realize we can also say the same thing here about any Buffalo player, including Singletary, who does not correlate with the Pats D, but on a two-game slate playing a unique (Singletary + Pats) lineup is a strategy I am very interested in.
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