Thursday Night Football Preview
- Spread: Bills -8.5
- Over/Under: 42.5
The Buccaneers head to Buffalo to take on the Bills on Thursday night. Both teams are coming off of heartbreaking last-minute losses. Buffalo, especially, has been an enigma, looking dominant four weeks into the season, but losing two of their last three and barely beating the lowly Giants. Tampa Bay has been inconsistent, but there were not lofty expectations for them coming into the season. If anything, their 3-3 record could be considered a win for the franchise. Baker Mayfield has been reasonably good, with a 89.2 quarterback rating, 65.2% completion percentage and a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio. The problem is the run game is every bit as bad as last season. Their rushing attempts have increased by 3.4 per game over last season, but they're only averaging two more yard per game. Buffalo has shown that their defense can be exploited, so we'll see if Tampa Bay can get their run game going this week.
As for Buffalo, they have been one of the more disappointing teams, according to my expected wins versus actual wins model. Their offense has been great, trailing only the Dolphins and Eagles, in yards per drive and points per drive. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs should be must-plays in this game. On defense, however, they have been average, overall. They're giving up about 25 more yards on the ground than they were last year.That theoretically opens up some value for Rachaad White, so he's still running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
When building lineups, you have to decide how you think the game will play out. Vegas odds are a great way to determine the game script. I use my own models, in conjunction with the odds to try to find an edge. This week, they're mostly aligned with what the oddsmakers are telling us. Buffalo has an implied score of 25.5, which means we can expect three touchdowns from them. Obviously, Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs are the two Bills players who score the most points. Although they are chalk plays with high ownership, I'm not fading either one of them. For the Bucs, Vegas has them scoring 17 points, which equates to two touchdowns and a field goal. Since that's below the league average of 21.6 points, that tells us Buffalo's defense is a solid play here. Mike Evans is the one Tampa Bay player that I think of when deciding who has the best chance to score.
Now that I have a good idea of how this game should go and what players are in the best position to score fantasy points, (Allen, Diggs, Evans, Bills defense), now I just have to consider salaries, correlations, and ownership when filling out the remaining lineup spots.
Captain Choices (1.5x salary, 1.5x points)
Josh Allen, QB, Bills, $17,700
Josh Allen leads all quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. He has thrown for 15 touchdowns and rushed for four more, making him an appealing choice for the Captain spot. Tampa Bay's defense has the second-lowest pressure rate in the league, so Allen should have plenty of time to find open receivers.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Bills, $17,100
Stefon Diggs is second among all receivers in fantasy points, touchdowns, target share, and receptions. He also has over 48% of Buffalo's air yards. The Bucs give up the ninth most yards to opposing wide receivers, so expect Diggs to have his usual dominant game.
Gabe Davis, WR, Bills, $10,200
Gabe Davis has four touchdowns this season. He leads the team in snaps and ADOT. He's a deep ball threat who could pay off in the Captain role at his salary.
Top Flex Options
Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers, $10,000
Mike Evans is the one players on Tampa Bay that I would expect to score, but he carries a hefty price tag, so I'm probably not going to be able to work him into my lineups.
James Cook, RB, Bills, $8,600
If the Bills go into the second half with a nice lead, which I think is very possible, then Cook could see an increases in his usual 15 touches per game. He's one of the safest players on the slate.
Rachaad White, RB, Buccaneers, $8,000
Rachaad White has not been efficient, but he's still getting a large share of the workload in Tampa Bay's backfield. He is not dependent on game script, so he's going to get his opportunities, regardless. He had six catches in last week's loss to Atlanta, so there's a decent chance he can match that in a game the Bucs are likely to play from behind.
Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers, $7,800
It looks like Chris Godwin will play, so I prefer him to Mike Evans this week. He's getting the same number of targets as Evans, and with a higher catch rate. He's just not scoring touchdowns. That will change. Maybe it will be this week. I'll take the $2,200 discount from Evans to find out.
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Bills, $5,000
With Dawson Knox ruled out, Kincaid becomes a "must play" for me. He broke out with eight catches for 75 yards last week. He's one of the best values on the slate.
Bills Defense, $4,400
My model has Tampa Bay as the third lowest scoring team of the week, This could be a smash game for the Buffalo defense and I'm likely to work them into most of my lineups.
- Stefon Diggs
- Josh Allen
- Dalton Kincaid
- Latavius Murray
- Chase McLaughlin
- Bills Defense
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