Last updated: December 17th at 7:30am ET
Team Totals: Patriots 22.5, Bills 16
The Bills visit Foxboro in Saturday afternoon letdown position after last Sunday night’s national-TV road win over the Steelers to face a Patriots team that’s allowed an average of 11.8 points over its last ten regular season home games and held Buffalo to ten points at their place when these clubs met in Week 4. Josh Allen has fared poorly in two career meetings with Bill Belichick’s defense, completing just 33-of-69 passes (47.8%) for 370 yards (5.4 YPA), a 1:5 TD-to-INT ratio, and four sacks taken. Expect New England’s D/ST to stay hot after it got back on track in last Sunday’s beatdown of the Bengals. … Even with top back Devin Singletary sidelined at the time, the Bills enjoyed immense rushing success on Frank Gore’s back (17/109/0) versus the Patriots in Week 4, before Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard rebroke New England’s run-defense dam in last week’s prolific 30/163/0 (5.4 YPC) combined rushing effort. Feeding Singletary and mixing in off-script Allen runs may give Buffalo its best shot at controlling Saturday’s game. Singletary has been up to the bellcow task, averaging 20.2 touches over the last five weeks to cement every-week RB2 value. Gore is down to 10.2 touches per game during that stretch.
Allen’s 2019 target distribution: John Brown 106; Cole Beasley 90; Dawson Knox 44; Singletary 39; Isaiah McKenzie 32; Robert Foster 13; Gore 12; Tyler Kroft 9. … Brown busted his three-game sub-40-yard slump by parlaying 10 targets into 99 yards in last week’s win over Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, Brown will be Week 16’s near-surefire victim of should-be DPOY Stephon Gilmore’s coverage. Those two matched up for the majority of these teams’ Week 4 game, and Gilmore held Brown to 69 scoreless yards on 11 targets. … Beasley endured a miserable Week 15 – uncharacteristically dropping two passes and finishing with six scoreless yards on six targets – but he was Buffalo’s best receiver in these teams’ Week 4 affair (7/75/0). Beasley remains on the PPR-specific WR3/flex fringe with 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in seven of Buffalo’s last nine games. … The Bills deployed a near-even timeshare between Knox and Kroft in last week’s victory, canceling both out as Week 16 tight end streamer possibilities.
Even in last week’s decisive 34-13 win at Cincinnati, the Patriots’ passing-game shortcomings remained apparent on Tom Brady’s season-low 128 yards and pitiful 4.4 yards per attempt, his second fewest of 2019. Brady enters Week 16 with just one top-12 week in his last seven starts, while Buffalo’s defense has limited 12-of-14 signal callers faced to fantasy scores of QB13 or worse. His passing offense lacking any tangible long-ball threat, trust factor sparse with his pass catchers, and Julian Edelman clearly not physically right, Brady is no longer viable beyond two-quarterback leagues. … Cognizant of their pass-game deficiencies, the Patriots attempted to kickstart their run game against the Bengals by feeding Sony Michel 20 touches – tied for his most since Week 8 – and even effectively involving Rex Burkhead (8 touches), while James White (6) took a backseat after an early 23-yard receiving score. Although the three-man nature of New England’s backfield keeps each member’s fantasy outlook in weekly check, a repeat game plan wouldn’t be surprising in what projects as a low-scoring slugfest against the Bills. Ground-game production can be induced at Buffalo’s expense – Sean McDermott’s defense generously yields 4.50 yards per carry to enemy backs – and the Patriots are likely at little risk of falling behind by multiple scores. Michel maintains touchdown dependency due to his barely-there passing-game role.
Brady’s Weeks 13-15 target distribution: Julian Edelman 28; White 22; Mohamed Sanu 14; Jakobi Meyers 10; Matt LaCosse 9; Phillip Dorsett 8; N’Keal Harry 6; Burkhead and Ben Watson 4; Michel 3. … On a shortened week, Edelman (knee, other) will try to gut out his various injuries after logging his second-lowest playing-time clip (62%) and route total (31) of the season in last Sunday’s win over the Bengals. Edelman also tallied his second-fewest yards of the year (30) when the Bills and Patriots met in Week 4. A locked-in WR1 for most of the season, Edelman suddenly looks like a risky WR2/3. … Albeit ineffectively, the Pats weeded Meyers and Dorsett out of last week’s wideout rotation and settled on Edelman in the slot with Sanu and Harry outside. Despite his playing-time hike, Sanu finished below 30 yards for the seventh time in his last eight games and has been horrifically unproductive as a Patriot with a 7.4 yards-per-catch average and 148 yards on 37 targets (4.0 YPT). … Harry has yet to clear 20 yards or exceed four targets in any game this year, but OC Josh McDaniels has begun manufacturing some touches for the first-round rookie and is clearly calling plays for Harry in scoring position. Ultimately, Harry is best approached as a touchdown-or-bust WR4/flex whose main Week 16 fantasy appeal is on Saturday-only DFS slates. … LaCosse narrowly usurped Watson as the Patriots’ primary pass-catching tight end in the last two weeks, running 35 routes to Watson’s 29 and drawing 7 targets to Watson’s 3. Neither is a good fantasy bet against a Bills defense permitting the NFL’s second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, but LaCosse is the superior dart throw on Saturday-only DFS slates.
Score Prediction: Bills 17, Patriots 16