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Patriots vs. Bills Wild Card Playoff Saturday Night Football NFL DFS Preview & Projections

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Welcome to the NFL Showdown Matchups Showdown Highlights for Wild Card Saturday Night Football. Here we will provide a quick overview of the game’s key storylines and highlight some of the key insights from Awesemo’s world-class suite of tools to find the best NFL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel showdown lineups. Let’s dive into the NFL DFS picks today for the Wild Card Weekend Patriots vs. Bills Saturday Night Football matchup.

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NFL DFS Preview & Projections: Patriots vs. Bills Saturday Night Football

The Patriots head to Orchard Park to take on the Buffalo Bills in what will be the rubber match between these two heated divisional rivals. New England had an impressive year, especially considering they’ve had a rookie quarterback under center, but limp into this game having lost three of its last four games, including an uninspired 33-24 loss at the hands of the Dolphins last weekend. The only team other than the Jaguars that they’ve beaten since the beginning of December are these same Bills in a windy, wild Week 13 in Buffalo, when the Patriots passed an astonishing three total times the entire game. While wind isn’t supposed to be as grueling Saturday, the temperature is, as game-time temperatures will plummet to near-zero degrees fahrenheit with a wind-chill approaching -10 degrees by kickoff. As such, both passing attacks must be downgraded. All pass-catchers have a lowered probability of reaching a ceiling score, and players building rosters for this unique single-game slate must take that into consideration. This game has all the makings of a rush-heavy, defense-focused, low-scoring affair. This game simply screams “playoff-style football.”

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The Bills, for all the flack they took during the middle of the season, ultimately finished as a top-10 offense by most accounts. They’re fourth in expected points added per play, seventh in points scored per play, and, maybe most surprisingly, rank sixth-best in the NFL in yards per rush attempt. The passing attack has been more than adequate down the stretch as well, as quarterback Josh Allen ($12,800 DraftKings/$17,500 FanDuel) finished the season eighth in passing yards and seventh in passing touchdowns. But we didn’t see nearly as many true ceiling performances from Allen nor his supporting cast compared to the 2020 season, and Allen threw for less than 7.0 yards per attempt in each of his last six games of the season. At the very least, the Bills, rank fifth in the NFL in pass plays per game, and Allen ranks third among quarterbacks in red zone carries per game this season, giving him the same high floor projection we typically see, despite conditions being far from ideal for passing. Allen had 60-plus rush yards in four of his final five starts, including 64 against New England in Week 16. And while the quintet of Buffalo pass-catchers, led by star receiver Stefon Diggs ($10,600 DraftKings/$14,500 FanDuel) and rounded-out by upstart youngsters Dawson Knox ($6,600 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) and Gabriel Davis ($4,400 DraftKings/$9,500 FanDuel), as well as capable veterans Cole Beasley ($6,400 DraftKings/$10,500 FanDuel) and Emmanuel Sanders ($5,600 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) will all have plays designed for them, it’s hard to imagine two out of the group hitting a “have-to-have-it” score, considering the frigid weather and New England’s top overall defense in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed. Besides Diggs, none of the pass-catchers have more than a 30% chance of being in the optimal lineup this Saturday night.

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Instead of loading-up on pass-catchers, fantasy gamers can instead focus on Devin Singletary ($9,600 DraftKings/$13,500 FanDuel), who has earned 86% of the running back rush attempts over the Bills’ final three games of the season, and has averaged 3.0 targets per game during that span. Singletary has topped 100 total yards in each of his last two starts, and while the Patriots’ defense is a much different beast compared to the Falcons and Jets, the teams Singletary did his damage against previously, the Bills will have little choice but to lean on Singletary, who had by far his finest season as a pro, ranking top-15 in the NFL in total evaded tackles and total breakaway runs. Allen and Singletary have combined for 100% of the team’s goal line rushes over the last five weeks.

The New England offense, dealing with the same weather-related dilemmas as Buffalo, isn’t going to need to deviate much from its typical game-script in order to accommodate the cold. Mac Jones ($8,800 DraftKings/$15,000 FanDuel) threw just 31.5 times per game, outside the top-25 in pass plays per games, and averages just 222 passing yards per game this season. Still, from an accuracy perspective, Jones has been impressive, ranking seventh in red zone completion percentage, and second-best in the NFL in completion percentage while pressured, which will certainly be needed, as the Bills have a top-10 pass rush, according to PFF team grades. Don’t expect any of Jakobi Meyers ($7,400 DraftKings/$11,500 FanDuel), Nelson Agholor ($2,600 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) or Kendrick Bourne ($5,200 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) to see more than six target in this game, and even that seems overly bullish. The Patriots will be pot-committed to running it down the Bills’ throats for as long as the game script allows. Damien Harris ($10,400 DraftKings/$14,000 FanDuel), Rhamondre Stevenson ($5,000 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel), and Brandon Bolden ($4,600 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel) should be extremely busy. Harris and Stevenson should split the work close to 50-50, with Bolden acting as the change-of-pace back. Harris looks to be the preferred goal line back, however, earning three carries inside the ten compared to Stevenson’s one.

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The Bills’ Isaiah McKenzie ($1,600 DraftKings/$8,500 FanDuel) has been utilized significantly more in recent weeks than he has all season, earning 16% of team targets, including the second-most red zone targets of any Bills’ player, over the last two weeks. He’s still playing on just 49% of snaps, but that’s a higher snap share than Beasley has had during that same span. McKenzie looks like the much preferred punt-play compared to Zack Moss ($2,000 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel), who has become a complete afterthought in the Buffalo offensive attack. Moss has earned just
ten total opportunities over his last three games.

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All Patriots’ pass-catchers should be considered volatile options, but only a few have salaries that indicate that. Hunter Henry ($6,200 DraftKings/$12,000 FanDuel), with a salary inflated by an unsustainable touchdown rate, still looks like a viable option, but has a much higher range of outcomes than his consistent play let’s on. At the very least, Henry and Meyers have combined for over 60% of the team’s red zone targets over their last three games. Jonnu Smith ($1,000 DraftKings/$6,000 FanDuel) has earned just 4% of team targets since Week 15, and is only viable in the largest of large-field tournaments.

The Bottom Line (FanDuel New York Betting Offer)

While anything is possible on a one game slate, and the Buffalo passing attack is strong enough to theoretically overcome horrible conditions and produce one to two ceiling scores necessary to take-down tournaments, this game’s 44-point Vegas total is simply too high. The implied totals for both teams still give too little credit for the impact that the weather likely will have, and gives too much credit to both teams’ for their periodic eruptions in scoring, which, at least in this author’s opinion, has led to inflated expectations based on skewed season-long averages. The winner of this game may only need 20 points. And with both teams likely employing rush-heavy game scripts, the total plays in this game should pale in comparison to expected pass-heavy affairs, such as Raider-Bengals and 49ers-Cowboys. With both the Bills ($4,800 DraftKings) and Patriots ($3,400 DraftKings) defenses ranked among the very best in the NFL, especially in limiting big plays, expect scoring and fantasy scoring to be down across the board. As tough as this sounds, especially on the Buffalo side, limit pass-catchers to one-per-lineup. The quarterbacks, as is typical on a single-game slate, still have the highest floor and ceiling projections, and both, particularly Allen, can reach their ceilings with their legs, so ensure you’re not “over-stacking” when it isn’t necessary. From a roster construction standpoint, this isn’t a slate to differentiate yourself by building-for a contrarian game script. Instead, pick and choose from the bevy of available rushers and quarterbacks, slide-in a kicker or defense (or two), and call it day.

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Wild Card Saturday Night Football Prediction: Bills 20, Patriots 14

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We also have FanDuel Single-Game slate tools and showdown ownership projections. Take a look at our NFL lineups, inactive players and depth charts for NFL games. If you’re interested in other NFL DFS news for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS projected ownership, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, DFS NFL rankings, and DFS NFL stacking. View our DraftKings NFL rankings and our FanDuel NFL DFS rankings.

A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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