FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Colts at Bills
The NFL playoffs get underway with a game with a pretty high total -- 51.0 points -- and a reasonable spread of 6.5 points.
The spread favors the home team, the Buffalo Bills, over the visiting Indianapolis Colts. Both teams rate out as above-average defenses and close to above-average offenses (the Bills are 1st in our adjusted offensive efficiency metric, while the Colts are 17th).
Anyway, injuries really dictate a lot for this slate, and even just hours away, it's hard to get the 100% proper feel for the game. It'll be vital to be tuned into the player-level news for this game.
High-Level Simulation Results
I simulated this game a thousand times -- using numberFire's projections -- to see some high-level takeaways. Here's what I found. Note that Stefon Diggs is projected to play, and Cole Beasley is projected to sit. Stay tuned into the news and our projections closer to kickoff because those injuries will change a lot about the Bills' receiving numbers.
|Michael Pittman Jr.||$8,500||7.5||0.8%||19.2%|
Here's a snapshot of how these two teams stack up, based on numberFire's opponent-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metric.
Using numberFire's projections as the base, we can see how much of a stud Josh Allen is in this game. He's 51.4%(!) likely to lead the slate in FanDuel points, and it's no surprise why. We project Allen for 24.9 FanDuel points and then Diggs at 17.7 behind that. It's a massive gap, and yes, the Colts do rank eighth against the pass when adjusted for opponent. But Allen's Passing NEP per drop back of 0.44 in eight(!) games against top-12 adjusted pass defenses led all quarterbacks this season. All other quarterbacks averaged a per-drop back mark of 0.03 against top-12 adjusted pass defenses. Allen has a huge sample of being great against tough opponents, and he also has run 4.9 times per game in that sample (and 6.4 times on the full-season). He could run more in a playoff scenario, so the best way to treat Allen is likely to plug him in at MVP and differentiate elsewhere. If not playing Allen at MVP, it's still hard to anticipate that he's not in the optimal lineup.
Philip Rivers, Allen's quarterback counterpart in this game, has only three games with at least 20.0 FanDuel points on the season and has had pretty much the complete opposite schedule as Allen. Rivers has played only four opponents inside the top 20 in adjusted pass defense. Adjusting all of his drop backs for opponent, he has played 0.10 Passing NEP above expected (with an overall mark of 0.25 -- nearly twice the NFL average of 0.13). Despite this, Rivers' downfield attempt rate of 16.7% is just around NFL average, and his average depth of target (7.2 yards) is 0.6 yards shy of the NFL average. There's not a huge chance of a massive game from Rivers with his passing profile and lack of rushing.
While Jonathan Taylor has the unenviable role as a road underdog running back in the playoffs, over the past four games, he has averaged 21.0 rushes, 2.5 targets, 147.0 scrimmage yards, 4.8 red zone carries, and 0.5 red zone targets per game. It's an elite workload against a generous rush defense (23rd). The targets do help alleviate some concerns of negative game script, and building around Taylor at MVP rather than Allen could be all it takes to take down a tournament. There's also the angle of playing Nyheim Hines in a Bills' 4-1 stack, assuming Hines gets peppered with targets or steals a red zone touchdown.
The Bills' backfield doesn't do a ton to inspire confidence that they'll have a floor or fear that their ceiling will torch us for not rostering them. Since Zack Moss and Devin Singletary returned to a 50/50 split in Week 7, Moss has averaged 9.7 carries and 1.4 targets for 8.6 FanDuel points, and Singletary has averaged 9.1 rushes and 3.0 targets for 7.7 FanDuel points. I'd prefer Moss for the touchdown equity, given his better red zone role.
It's actually Diggs -- not Taylor -- who is the second-most likely player to lead the slate in fantasy points, and that would come with the added leverage of receivers not being as heavily rostered at MVP as they actually wind up being the optimal MVP. Diggs -- in games where both he and John Brown played 50.0% of the snaps or more -- has commanded a 27.9% target share and a 38.6% air yards share. That works out to 9.9 targets (2.1 downfield) and 100.4 receiving yards per game. Those all came with Beasley, too, mind you. Diggs is a pivotal piece to the puzzle. Using Diggs at MVP helps differentiate while still rostering Allen.
Brown has an 18.6% target share with a 1.3 downfield targets per game in that aforementioned sample and should be boosted without Beasley. Gabriel Davis would slot in as a beneficiary of Beasley's absence and -- despite the $9,000 salary -- does help us build at the top. Dawson Knox is a punt play, but don't chase the eight targets from last week. He had only one game with more than four prior to their blowout Week 17 win. He's a touchdown vulture play with no real yardage upside.
The Colts' pass-catchers should point us first to T.Y. Hilton, who has a team-high 19.8% target share over the past eight games, yet that comes with only 63.9 yards per game. The best case for Hilton is that he is averaging 2.6 downfield targets per game with only Zach Pascal (1.4) also above 1.0 in that span. Though Rivers doesn't throw downfield often, when he does, it's generally to Hilton. Pascal has an 11.4% target share in this eight-game sample, trailing Michael Pittman Jr. (14.7%), but Pascal does have the preferable average target depth (11.9 to 8.4). Both are viable bring-backs to a Bills-heavy lineup; Pascal is more volatile.