FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 13 Monday Night (Patriots at Bills)
Monday's island game offers plenty of real-life intrigue in the AFC playoff race, but it doesn't project to be a high-scoring game from a fantasy perspective. The Buffalo Bills are 2.5-point favorites over the visiting New England Patriots in a contest with a 41.0 over/under. In addition to both teams having top-notch defenses, the weather should be a factor, as well, with both frigid temperatures and high winds expected.
For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.
Our Brandon Gdula has done a deep dive on single-game strategy. It's worth checking out before you make your lineups.
Only three players are projected for double-digit FanDuel points in numberFire's model: Josh Allen ($17,500), Mac Jones ($15,000), and Stefon Diggs ($14,000).
Predictably, Allen checks in with the highest median projection by a good chunk. Despite some up-and-down performances of late, he's averaging 24.5 FanDuel points per game, and no other player on the slate averages even 15 points. In addition to his production as a passer, he ranks third among quarterbacks in rushing yardage, averaging 6.3 carries and 34.8 yards per game.
Allen should be the most popular MVP and for good reason.
However, if you're looking for a reason to fade the chalk, this will be a tough test against what's become a ruthless Patriots defense. In numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, New England ranks third in both total defense and passing defense. They're also fourth in quarterback pressures per drop back, per Pro Football Reference.
Of course, things won't be much easier for Jones and the Patriots' offense. Buffalo's stout defense ranks first in total defense and passing defense, per numberFire's metrics, and they're also first in quarterback pressures per drop back. The loss of defensive back Tre'Davious White is a blow to this secondary, though.
While Jones has performed well as a rookie, his role in a balanced offense that tends to skew towards the run -- in addition to his lack of mobility -- limits his upside. Jones has cracked 20 FanDuel points only twice all season.
Throw in the difficult matchup and less-than-ideal weather conditions, and Jones is probably more suitable as a flex play -- though I wouldn't completely fade him as an MVP given the overall low-scoring expectations of this game.
Diggs will be a fairly popular option at MVP, but he should at least come in at a lower percentage than his quarterback. He's posted a 24.9% target share and 32.9% air yards share this season, which are both tops on the team. Bill Belichick's reputation for shutting down the opposing team's top weapon should give us some pause, but considering the alternatives on this slate, there's no question that Diggs is a great MVP candidate.
After this trio, we get a steep drop in numberFire's projections, showing how tricky this slate will be. No one else technically stands out as a potential MVP on paper, but if this game plays out as an ugly grind as expected, then it wouldn't be surprising to see a secondary player emerge as the night's top scorer.
We'll get into that group in the next section, but in general, this feels like a slate where getting pretty weird at MVP could be the way to go in tournaments.
Outside of Jones, the best candidates to produce fantasy points -- relatively speaking -- on the Patriots are Jakobi Meyers ($9,500), Damien Harris ($12,500), Rhamondre Stevenson ($12,000), and Kendrick Bourne ($11,000).
In terms of targets, Meyers laps his teammates, averaging 7.5 per game with a 23.6% share -- no one else on the team has a season-long target share above 14%. He still only has one receiving touchdown for the season and has yet to crack 100 yards in a game, but the role remains noteworthy.
Harris and Stevenson are splitting early-down carries, while Brandon Bolden ($7,500) is the clear pass-catching back. Each back played roughly a third of the snaps last week, showing what a headache this backfield has become for fantasy. With Harris and Stevenson, you're pretty much just banking on one of them cashing in a goal line score. Bolden usually only sees a handful of targets, but the salary puts him on the value radar at least.
If you're thinking about a contrarian MVP choice from the Pats, Bourne might be the best of an admittedly shaky bunch. There's isn't anything special about Bourne's role when it comes to volume -- he's averaging just 4.4 targets per game -- but he's emerged as a big-play weapon for this offense, and he occasionally gets designed run plays, too. It's all helped him to five receiving touchdowns, and he also threw for a touchdown on a trick play in Week 7.
The only other players to consider on the Pats are probably Nelson Agholor ($7,000), Hunter Henry ($9,000), and Jonnu Smith ($6,500), all of whom are shaky at best.
Agholor is the primary deep threat, but he's another guy with a low-volume role (4.5 targets per game), and it's translated to modest fantasy production. Henry and Smith eat into each other's playing time, so you're really just banking on a red zone score. Henry's proven to be the more reliable option on that front with seven touchdowns.
On the Bills' side, Devin Singletary ($8,000), Cole Beasley ($10,000), Emmanuel Sanders ($9,500), Matt Breida ($7,500), and Dawson Knox ($10,500) are the top remaining options.
Assuming Zack Moss is inactive again this week, that leaves Singletary and Breida as the lone running backs. That theoretically makes their situation slightly more palatable than the Pats' backfield, except that Allen does a good bit of running himself, so it's hard to get too excited about their upside, too.
Therefore, perhaps it's better to take a shot on one of the pass-catchers if you're looking for another contrarian MVP -- particularly if you think New England focuses their defense on Diggs. Beasley, Sanders, and Knox have all seen their volume fluctuate from week to week, but for what it's worth, Beasley has enjoyed the most consistent role with a 19.9% target share.
Knox has been a top red zone threat (seven touchdowns in nine games), though, so he could have sneaky MVP appeal in a game where touchdowns could be at a premium.
Lastly, we shouldn't forget about the kickers in a low-scoring game. In fact, Nick Folk ($8,500) averages the fourth-most FanDuel points per game on the slate. Both he and Tyler Bass ($8,500) are reasonable value options, but keep an eye on how the wind is looking around game time.