The Buffalo Bills (4-9) host the Detroit Lions (5-8) this week in a match-up between two teams that won’t make the playoffs in 2018. If you’re reading this column, there’s a good chance you’re involved in your fantasy football playoffs. If that’s the case, congratulations! It’s natural to consider the risks in using anyone from the Bills for league playoffs. However, if you’re in a bind because of injury, etc, or looking to shake things up due to poor performances from other players, the Bills may have what ails you.
Now for the true test of Buffalo Bills fandom: Are you alive in the fantasy playoffs and willing to consider starting a Bills player in your league’s semifinals (or quarterfinals, if your league is one with a Week 17 championship game)? If you are, the Lions are a prime match-up for a few Buffalo players this weekend.
QB Josh Allen
Yahoo! projects that Allen will score 19.51 fantasy points this weekend, leaving him at QB19. That’s not particularly close to a starting quarterback projection for the week. However, here is the list of quarterbacks who have averaged more fantasy points per game than Allen over the last month:
- Patrick Mahomes (31.23 PPG)
Yep, that’s the whole list. Allen is averaging 25.79 fantasy points per game over his last three games. Much of that scoring is based on his rushing ability, as Allen is averaging ten rushes, 111.7 yards, and one touchdown per game. Against a Detroit squad that has been tough on rookie quarterbacks, allowing Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen to combine for 23.72 fantasy points in two games, maybe expectations should be lowered for Allen.
I’m not so sure, though. Allen has done incredible things with his legs over the last three games, even if he has struggled to consistently complete passes. Whether that’s due to inaccuracy, drops, or breakdowns in protection is a matter for another discussion. If you have a struggling quarterback, or you find yourself an underdog in the playoffs in need of a boost, Allen is worth considering.
WR Zay Jones
The Lions are in the middle of the pack with regard to wide receiver fantasy scoring, but among the guys they have allowed to score highly, there’s one thing in common: they often operate from the slot. Enter Jones, who is coming off arguably his worst game of the 2018 season. He only caught two passes for ten yards, but he was targeted an encouraging seven times on the afternoon. Jones suffered from the drops against the New York Jets, an affliction that had not bothered him since his abysmal rookie season ended. I expect that Jones will bounce back and have a big afternoon against Detroit’s secondary, whether he’s operating in the slot or outside, as he has done much more since Isaiah McKenzie emerged as a slot threat himself.
WR Robert Foster
While Jones is looking for a bounce-back game, Foster is looking to keep the good times rolling. Over the Bills’ last four games, Foster has 13 catches for 330 yards and one touchdown. Last week, in his first start, Foster was outstanding, catching seven passes on eight targets for 104 yards. With teams respecting his excellent speed, he is open more often on underneath routes, which allows him to showcase his speed and elusiveness in space. Foster and Allen seem to have a budding connection that can be exploited this week.
RB Keith Ford
This is completely insane, I know—but hear me out. Detroit allows the tenth-most fantasy points to running backs. LeSean McCoy suffered a hamstring injury against the Jets, and Chris Ivory injured his shoulder. Neither player was able to finish the game. There is no benefit to playing either player in Week 15 or beyond in a non-playoff season. Marcus Murphy has 49 carries in his NFL career, and 14 of them came in garbage time against the Jets at MetLife Stadium earlier this year. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll gushed about Ford earlier this week, so it’s clear that the coaching staff thinks highly of him. Ford was signed from the practice squad on Wednesday, and he may be in line to see plenty of work over the next three weeks. It’s hard to find players that will have RB1 workloads on the fantasy waiver wire in December, and Ford is built tough enough to perform here at the end of the year. Ivory did practice in full on Wednesday, and there is a good chance that he is the starter heading into Sunday, so he may be the better bet; however, the situation is one worth monitoring as the week progresses.