Which Patriots and Bills players should be started with confidence (and which should remain on the bench) this week in fantasy football?
For many fantasy football leagues around the world, this is it: championship week. The final week of the season. Every waiver wire pickup, every strategic trade, every draft day decision… it’s all led up to this.
Now, with all the chips on the table, it’s never been more important to ace your starting roster decisions.
Chances are if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably not tinkering too much with your team. Still, injuries are as much a part of fantasy football as they are a part of real-life football. If you’re an owner of Todd Gurley, Keenan Allen, Julio Jones, or a number of other high-profile players that might sit out this week, it’s time to make some contingency plans.
Tom Brady’s favorite target has quietly had a very respectable season, especially considering he missed a quarter of it while serving his PED suspension. Edelman’s 711 yards ranks first on the team now that Josh Gordon is gone, and his four touchdown receptions are second only to James White’s six.
It’s safe to assume No. 11 could be seeing a lot more balls thrown his way now that No. 10 is no longer in the picture. Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett are all more logical candidates to fill the void Gordon left behind, at least in terms of positional value to the offense.
But Edelman might stand the most to gain statistically in his absence, and that could start as early as Sunday against the Bills.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett
As stated above, all three receivers are natural beneficiaries of the Gordon situation. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to succeed Sunday against the Bills.
It’s not just the fact that they’ll likely cancel each other out from a fantasy football relevance standpoint. It’s also the fact that Buffalo’s defense is really, really good.
The Bills are No. 1 in the league when it comes to passing defense. They’re one of only two teams in the NFL allowing less than 200 passing yards per game (the other is Jacksonville), and they specialize in taking away the deeper parts of the field and keeping all the action in front of them.
Add it all up, and the matchup doesn’t look favorable for any Patriots weapons that rely on vertical speed to do their damage. If New England wants to go through the air, better to do it with Edelman in the slot and James White coming out of the backfield.
Until the Patriots can prove their run defense is actually a run defense, opponents will focus their gameplans on gashing New England on the ground. Per ESPN, the Pats are allowing a generous 4.99 yards per rush this season – the worst mark in their history under Bill Belichick.
Buffalo, for their part, are ranked ninth in the league in rushing offense. A lot of that production can be attributed to the wheels on their rookie quarterback, Josh Allen, who has already run for about a third as many yards as he’s thrown for.
But McCoy is still a workhorse, a true three-down back on a team that wants to run the ball and play solid defense. More importantly, he’s fresh and he’s healthy after sitting out last week’s game to get his hamstring right.
Expect Shady to have a big afternoon against the Pats’ soft front seven.