Last updated: December 10th at 9:07pm ET.
Team Totals: Steelers 19, Bills 17
Slowed to a halt for his season-worst fantasy score (QB29) by Baltimore last Sunday, Josh Allen catches an even tougher Week 15 draw at Pittsburgh. Just 2 of the last 11 quarterbacks to face the Steelers have topped QB14 fantasy results, while Allen is likely to face heavy pressure against a defense that leads the NFL in sacks (48) and QB hits (96). Allen also picked up a Week 14 ankle injury that may compromise his mobility after Allen scrambled just twice for nine yards against the Ravens. The Bills could barely move the ball and look likely to endure similar offensive struggles in what projects as an exceptionally low-scoring game at Heinz Field. … Also tied for the NFL lead in tackles for loss (96), the Steelers have stopped enemy backs in their tracks for 3.88 yards per carry and six TDs in 13 games, boding poorly for Devin Singletary as a low-floor RB2. Singletary did set or equal season highs in touches (23), targets (8), catches (6), and snaps (82%) in last week’s loss, keeping Singletary alive as a purely volume-based play.
Allen’s 2019 target distribution: John Brown 96; Cole Beasley 84; Dawson Knox 43; Singletary 36; Isaiah McKenzie 32; Robert Foster 13; Frank Gore 12. … Held below 40 yards in three straight games, Brown is an increasingly risky play against Pittsburgh’s smothering secondary in a likely low-scoring contest where his quarterback seems likely to struggle. I’d characterize Brown as a big-play-dependent WR3 option. It does help that Brown popped in Week 15’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Beasley has passed Brown as Allen’s most reliable weapon lately, clearing 70 yards and/or hitting pay dirt in seven of Buffalo’s last eight games. Beasley is the floor play, Brown the ceiling play in Sunday’s matchup. … None of the Bills’ ancillary pass catchers have stepped forward as legitimate fantasy options in season long or DFS. Knox is sometimes intriguing but hasn’t reached 40 yards in a game since Week 4.
Although UDFA rookie Devlin Hodges has moved to 3-0 as a starter, his pass attempt totals are 20 > 21 > 19 with fantasy scores of QB23 > QB25 > QB23 in the NFL’s most conservative offense. Even with JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) tentatively due back, Hodges is a weak two-quarterback-league play, especially against Buffalo’s stingy defense. … James Conner (shoulder) looks on pace to finally return and should have fresh legs versus Buffalo’s beatable run defense, which generously concedes 4.56 yards per carry to enemy backs. Inefficient rookie grinder Benny Snell’s chances of staying involved were damaged on last week’s costly lost fumble, although explosive change-up back Kerrith Whyte deserves to maintain a complementary role. In two games prior to going down, Conner tallied touch counts of 23 and 26 with total-yardage results of 119 and 150 against the Dolphins and Chargers. Assuming he’s truly back to full health, Conner sets up as an RB2 play with RB1 upside as the focal point of Pittsburgh’s run-first attack.
Hodges’ 2019 target distribution: Diontae Johnson 19; James Washington 13; Smith-Schuster, Conner, Jaylen Samuels, and Vance McDonald 7; Snell 2; White 1. … Although none of Pittsburgh’s receivers qualify as confident Week 15 plays on a low-volume passing team facing one of the league’s top pass defenses, I’d take my chances with Johnson if forced to pick from the three. Johnson leads the Steelers in targets, catches (9), and Air Yards (139) in Hodges’ three starts. Johnson is also popping in this week’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Washington’s production has been most dependent upon Smith-Schuster’s availability, while neither JuJu’s health nor his effectiveness is guaranteed in his first game back from a nearly month-long knee injury. Johnson also has the lowest average depth of target (9.3) of the trio, meaning he’s running the highest-percentage routes. I’m making this a wait-and-see week for Smith-Schuster, who has one game above 44 yards since Week 5. … Usual blocker Nick Vannett will take over as Pittsburgh’s primary tight end if McDonald (concussion) can’t get cleared for Week 15. The Bills have allowed the NFL’s third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Bills 17, Steelers 16