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Expert fantasy football advice: Breaking down Bills-Jets

Quarterback

Team Pos Player Pass Pass Yds Pass TDs INTs Rushes Rush Yds Rush TDs Standard PPR
BUF QB Tyrod Taylor 28.7 209.0 1.2 0.4 5.8 34.9 0.3 17.8 17.8
NYJ QB Josh McCown 31.9 210.5 0.8 1.1 1.8 6.2 0.0 11.4 11.4

 

This is a game to avoid QBs. Tyrod Taylor (BUF) is startable almost every week because of his rushing ability, but not an option you’re going to feel great about. The Bills will trade off pass attempts this week, as heavy home favorites, for higher expected efficiency and a good scoring output (team total of 25). That’s a net positive for Taylor’s fantasy value. Still, given the woeful preseason, Taylor should only be started in 12-team leagues or deeper. Even in those scenarios, we suggest a streaming option, such as Sam Bradford (MIN), who is one of our league wide Week One suggested starts.

Josh McCown (NYJ) should not be owned in any leagues. This is the definition of empty volume - he’ll see a high volume of inefficient pass attempts in predictable passing situations.

Running Back

Team Pos Player Rushes Rush Yds Rush TDs Receptions Rec Yds Rec TD Standard PPR
BUF RB LeSean McCoy* 23.0 119.4 0.9 3.4 25.4 0.1 20.7 24.2
NYJ RB Bilal Powell 11.0 50.4 0.3 3.1 24.5 0.1 9.9 13.0
NYJ RB Matt Forte 11.8 45.8 0.3 2.1 18.4 0.1 8.4 10.5

*LeSean McCoy missed Thursday's practice due to illness. This projection assumes full health.

LeSean McCoy (BUF) is obviously an every week start in seasonal leagues. I shared my concerns in regards to McCoy as a middle of Round 1 pick in a previous column, expecting some efficiency regression along with the uncertainty of a new coaching staff and a team that could be, well, bad. For at least one week I’m prepared to look very stupid.

The Bills find themselves in as favorable a spot as we’re likely to see them all season long. Vegas has them with a team total of 25 points as nearly double-digit favorites, which is remarkable when you consider the Vegas O/U on their win total is set at just 6.5.

A higher than usual team total is great news for McCoy, since those added points are likely to come from him. The Bills were the run heaviest team inside the 10-yard line last season. Additionally, a favorable projected game script should mean we see the Bills running often throughout this game against a Jets defensive line that just traded away Sheldon Richardson.

Unlike last season, not that it hurt his fantasy value much, McCoy doesn’t have any competition behind him. Mike Gillislee went to the Patriots in the offseason. Jonathan Williams was a surprise cut. We’re not going to see Mike Tolbert and Taiwan Jones meaningfully cut into McCoy’s production, which did happen with Gillislee at times last season.

Favorable coach comments about getting McCoy more involved in the passing game over the offseason and Week One comments indicating a hefty workload for McCoy, add to McCoy’s high floor and ceiling combination. Consider him over David Johnson on DraftKings and FanDuel. You’re looking at similar production for a lower cost and likely lower ownership in tournaments.

On the Jets side, a low team total and projected negative game script does not bode well for RB fantasy production in general, especially in a split backfield.

However, Bilal Powell (NYJ) is the back to own if choosing between the two. Whenever there’s a split backfield, we favor either the goal line back or the receiving back. Since the Jets don’t have a clear goal line back, we defer to Powell, as will be the case most of the season with a bad Jets team facing deficits in the second half frequently. Powell is a startable RB in PPR leagues, and even in half PPR leagues should sneak into the Top 20 in Week One scoring.

Wide Receiver

Team Pos Player Receptions Rec Yds Rec TD Standard PPR
BUF WR Jordan Matthews 3.9 50.0 0.2 6.4 10.3
BUF WR Zay Jones 3.3 39.7 0.2 5.1 8.4
NYJ WR Robby Anderson 3.1 36.3 0.2 4.7 7.8
BUF WR Andre Holmes 2.2 31.4 0.2 4.5 6.8
NYJ WR Jermaine Kearse 2.4 32.7 0.2 4.2 6.6
NYJ WR Jeremy Kerley 2.8 27.6 0.1 3.4 6.2
NYJ WR ArDarius Stewart 2.0 23.2 0.1 3.0 5.0

 

On both sides of the ball, this is a game to remove passing targets from your lineup.

Jordan Matthews (BUF) offers the highest ceiling of the receivers in this game, for many of the reasons I outlined in my Bills fantasy preview. He’s the strongest bet to lead the Bills in targets this season, and analytically was a strong draft prospect, comparing favorably to Eric Decker. This might not be the best time to deploy Matthews given his first week with a new team and a chest injury costing him a good chunk of his offseason, but you’re holding onto him tight in redraft leagues.

Rookie WR Zay Jones (BUF) is going to be a PPR target for us in deep leagues when the Bills face negative game scripts and you’re looking for injury or bye week fill ins, but he belongs on your bench to start the season.

The one positive aspect for the Jets WRs is the high pass rate we may see out of them this year as one of the worst teams in the NFL. However, that’s where the positives end. The passing game won’t be efficient. The expected team point total is the lowest on Week One according to Vegas.

The worst part is that this passing game, at least how it projects for Week One, is not concentrated. Targets are going to be spread out. Initially, it looked like Robby Anderson (NYJ), who had a mini-breakout over the latter part of the 2016 season, would see WR1 targets. However, the team traded for Jermaine Kearse (NYJ), and just brought back Jeremy Kerley (NYJ), who is immediately expected to play a role in Week One. Sprinkle in some of rookie ArDarius Stewart (NYJ), and this is a situation to flat out avoid. Unpredictable team volume on an inefficient passing game is a hard pass.

Tight End

Team Pos Player Receptions Rec Yds Rec TD Standard PPR
BUF TE Charles Clay 3.5 38.7 0.2 5.3 8.8
NYJ TE Jordan Leggett 1.7 17.1 0.1 2.1 3.8
NYJ TEb Will Tye 1.1 10.5 0.1 1.4 2.5

 

Charles Clay (BUF) is a desperation play at TE in seasonal leagues if he’s the only TE you drafted.

With Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NYJ) suspended, there’s nothing to consider at TE for the Jets. They barely targeted the position last year, and it should be an afterthought until ASJ returns.

However, if you play in deeper leagues and have an open IR spot, ASJ is an interesting stash. He has the size (6’6, 262) and athleticism to have success at the NFL level. Given the dearth of receiving options for the Jets, ASJ could walk into a high market share of targets for a Jets team that will be throwing in negative game scripts quite often this season. There’s no floor here, but for a free pick up, you could hit a homerun on one of the league’s better size/athleticism profiles at the TE position who at least has a plausible scenario for finishing in the Top 10 in targets at the position.

Defense/ST

This is the reason why you don’t draft defenses in fantasy football leagues outside of the last two rounds, and you should stream them all season long (add/drop weekly based on matchups). The Buffalo Bills find themselves in a tremendous spot for fantasy production.

As noted above, Josh McCown will see plenty of pass attempts directed at a terrible receiving core in obvious passing situations. That should make your eyes get big and start thinking about opportunities for sack and turnovers, the most important part of picking a fantasy defense.

That’s even more important than points allowed, especially in DFS where the range of outcomes in terms of fantasy scoring for points allowed is pretty small. Of course, this week the Bills have that aspect of fantasy scoring in their favor as well. The Jets project to score the fewest points Week One. The Bills defense should be streamed in seasonal leagues of all sizes, and are also one of the best DFS plays of the week, especially on FanDuel.

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