We got a truly odd game from the Bills the last time they met the Patriots.
Josh Allen attempted only 18 passes: 6 fewer than he has thrown in any other game and 7 fewer than Cam Newton attempted in the same contest.
Instead of relying on his arm, as it has most of the season, the Buffalo offense ran it 38 times. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss handled 14 carries apiece. Each eclipsed 80 yards on the ground, with Moss scoring twice. Allen handled the other 10 rushing attempts and scored as well.
Newton threw for 20 more yards than Allen in that game and ran for his own TD (amid 54 yards). Damien Harris racked up 102 yards and a TD in that game as well. Jakobi Meyers led Patriots pass-catchers with 6-58 receiving on 10 targets, 40% of Newton’s attempts.
Harris might be ready to return from the ankle sprain that cost him last week, but we likely won’t know until inactives come out around 7 p.m. ET.
Sony Michel has re-entered the backfield picture since the 1st Buffalo meeting, claiming 10, 7 and 10 carries the past 3 weeks. So an active Harris would face an unclear work share.
Newton has struggled plenty since the Week 8 clash that saw him fumble away a late opportunity to tie. But New England reportedly won’t turn to Jarrett Stidham this week.
Let’s turn to the values …
I mentioned that Josh Allen’s Week 8 performance against the Patriots was goofy. He has averaged 37.9 pass attempts over his other 13 contests. That game also gave us his lowest fantasy score of the season, and just 51.9% of his scoring average over the other 13.
New England won’t have CB Stephon Gilmore this time around and remains a below-average defense. The Patriots do rank 16th in pass-defense DVOA vs. 32nd against the run, though. So we could still get more of a rushing lean than usual from Buffalo -- especially if the Bills jump to a lead this time around.
Still, it’s tough to imagine a sensible showdown lineup on either site without Allen, who sits atop each value table despite easily leading both sites in salary.
The Buffalo backfield looked like it might be shifting away from rookie Zack Moss when he basically disappeared after an early fumble in the Week 13 win over the 49ers. But Moss has led Devin Singletary 13-7 and 13-8 in carries the past 2 weeks. He looks like the Buffalo rushing bet.
Jakobi Meyers remains the clear best bet for receiving production among Patriots. But Newton’s poor passing makes no one a sure thing. So the significant savings of Damiere Byrd or N’Keal Harry vs. Meyers (as well as the RBs) makes each worth considering -- since we need to play at least 1 Patriot.
The run defense has stiffened some lately, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings, and rates about middle of the league at this point (18th).Just 2 defenses have allowed more QB rushing scores than the Bills’ 6 for the year, despite Buffalo ranking just 25th in total QB rushing attempts faced. That’s probably more bad luck than a specific weakness, given than legit runners have scored 5 of those TDs: Kyler Murray (2), Ryan Tannehill, Newton and Russell Wilson. (Jared Goff punched in the other.)