Atlanta Falcons (7-8, 6-9 ATS) at Buffalo Bills (9-6, 8-6-1), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Falcons Stats and Trends
The Falcons are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games but they’re 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games.
Atlanta is 6-1 toward unders in its last seven games.
Cordarrelle Patterson carried plenty of teams to the fantasy playoffs as a waiver-wire darling, but he’s losing major steam in the final weeks of the season. He’s fallen below nine FP in consecutive games and he’s failed to reach 14 FP in four straight contests after mustering just 7/14/1 rushing and 1/-1 receiving on two targets and a 54% snap share in a pristine matchup against the Lions in Week 16. Patterson is suddenly a risky RB2 option in the fantasy finals against a Bills’ defense that’s giving up the ninth-fewest FPG (21.1) to RBs. At least the Bills have given up 100+ rushing yards and 1+ TD three times in the last four weeks after Damien Harris posted 103/3 rushing against them last week.
Matt Ryan hasn’t reached 15+ FP or multiple TD passes in seven straight games, but he did complete 75% of his passes while averaging 9.0 YPA, which were his best marks in that span. The Bills just suffocated Mac Jones last week, with the rookie completing 14/32 passes (43.8%) for 145 scoreless yards (4.5 YPA) and two INTs for 7.1 FP.
Russell Gage’s four-game run with double-digit FP came to an end last week, but he still managed 4/39 receiving on a 21% target share. He’s now posted 4+ catches in six straight games. Jakobi Meyers posted 6/59 receiving on eight targets in this matchup last week.
Kyle Pitts still has just one touchdown this season, but he’s picking up steam with 4+ catches and 45+ yards in each of the last four weeks. HC Arthur Smith would love to get his rookie TE to 1000 receiving yards this week with 51+ yards, but this isn’t the easiest matchup to do it in. The Bills just held Hunter Henry to a nine-yard catch despite the TE seeing six targets.
Brolley’s Bills Stats and Trends
The Bills got their revenge on the Patriots by becoming the first team to not punt against a Bill Belichick-coached team in 474 games, which dates back to 1991 when Belichick took his first head coaching job with the original Browns franchise.
Buffalo is 5-2 toward overs in its last seven games.
The Bills are 1-4 ATS in their last five games following an outright victory.
Josh Allen carried the Bills to the victory last week by posting 314/3 passing and 12/64 rushing for 31.0 FP against the Patriots, which was the most FP the Patriots allowed to a quarterback this season. He gets a much softer spot this week against a Falcons’ defense that’s giving up the third-most FPG (20.2) to QBs this season.
Stefon Diggs posted his fourth performance with 20+ FP of the season with 7/85/1 receiving on 13 targets in a tough matchup against the Patriots. He’s finished with 13+ FP in eight of his last nine games, with the lone exception coming in Buffalo’s wind game with the Patriots in Week 13. The Falcons have allowed an individual WR to reach 18+ FP against them in four straight games, and they’re allowing the fourth-most FPG (38.8) to WRs this season.
Isaiah McKenzie stepped into a prominent role with both Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis missing Week 16 with COVID. McKenzie finished with a team-best 11/125/1 receiving on 12 targets (26% share) for 29.4 FP in a victory over the Patriots. Beasley is back this week but it wouldn’t be surprising to see McKenzie split the duties with him for at least this week. Amon-Ra St. Brown crushed the Falcons for 9/91/1 receiving on 11 targets last week.
It’s just not happening with Emmanuel Sanders, who hasn’t hit 30 yards since Week 9. Gabriel Davis scored four touchdowns in three games in Weeks 13-15 and he reached double-digit FP in each of those games. With Sanders out in Week 15, he stepped into a more prominent role with a team-best 5/85/2 receiving on seven targets (21% share) in a tough matchup against the Panthers. The Falcons are giving up the third-most receiving TDs per game (1.2) to WRs this season.
Dawson Knox came through with a late touchdown against the Patriots to salvage 9.1 FP with 2/11/1 receiving on three targets. He’s fallen below 40+ receiving in four of his last five games but he has four TDs in that span to keep himself afloat. The Falcons have given up a touchdown in just one of their last nine games, but the Buccaneers did get them for three scores in that Week 13 contest.
Devin Singletary went from 82% and 93% snaps shares in Weeks 14-15 to a 68% share last week with Zack Moss jumping back into the mix. He still produced 14+ FP for a third straight game with 12/39/1 rushing and 5/39 receiving against the Patriots. The Falcons are giving up 136.9 scrimmage yards per game and the ninth-most FPG (25.6) to RBs this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.6 (23rd)
Plays per game: 57.1 (31st)
Pass: 60.0% (18th) | Run: 40.0% (15th)
Pace: 26.2 (15th)
Plays per game: 63.5 (14th)
Pass: 66.0% (1st) | Run: 34.0% (32nd)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
Josh Allen is ending his fantasy season on a roll and is the No. 1 scorer, regardless of position, over the last three weeks with 95.3 FP. Well, everything is set up for him to put up another 25+ FP performance here. For as long as this game is remotely close, Buffalo is going to throw the ball at will. They’re first in pass rate above expectation (+12.5%) over the last eight weeks and this is about as easy of a matchup as they could have drawn up for Week 17 against this Falcons defense that ranks dead last in pressure rate and sack rate. Allen has been phenomenal when he’s given a clean pocket this year and ranks fifth-best in completions (75%).
On the other hand, just because the Falcons are two touchdown underdogs here doesn’t mean they’re just going to throw a ton. Instead, HC Arthur Smith has been very balanced when the Falcons are playing from behind and has called a pass on just 65% of their plays when trailing (20th). While the Bills have a ton of upside this week, this total is appropriately mediocre (44.5 O/U) because the Falcons have been so slow and sluggish (31st in plays per game; 23rd in pace) on offense.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
A matchup with Dane Jackson pushes me off Russell Gage this week. In the place of Tre'Davious White, Jackson has emerged to hold his responsibilities to 0.84 YPCS (15th-fewest), 0.16 FP/CS (sixth-fewest), and a 75.7 TPR (16th-lowest). If investing in a Dirty Bird is a must, Kyle Pitts is the play.
As for Stefon Diggs, he will run in the neighborhood of 50% of his routes across from A.J. Terrell. For those uninitiated, Terrell has been the most lockdown of perimeter CBs all season. He’s inhibited his coverage to the fewest YPCS (0.32), the fewest FP/CS (0.12), the fifth-fewest AY/CS (0.09), and third-lowest TPR (53.3).
Dolan’s Vantage Points
While Cordarrelle Patterson is fading, TE Kyle Pitts is actually picking up the pace a bit for the Falcons.
After finishing as the RB20 or better in 10 straight games from Weeks 2-14, C-Patt has finished as the RB55 and RB33 over the last two weeks. Patterson is averaging 2.65 YPC over the last three weeks, and his passing game usage has dried up completely, too. He ran just 12 routes in Week 16. Meanwhile, this is a horrible matchup. Patterson barely finished as a worthy FLEX last week despite scoring a TD.
Meanwhile, Pitts has finished as the TE9 > TE10 > TE3 over the last three weeks without scoring a TD. He still has just one score on the year which will muddy how strong his season has been in general, but at this point, I doubt you have a TE option much better than him. And despite a disappointing Week 16 performance, WR Russell Gage still had enough targets last week to put him in WR3 consideration.
Graham is a little lower on Gage, though. From Start/Sit:
“After a four game hot-streak in Weeks 12-15 where he averaged 7.3 receptions and 86.8 yards per game, Russell Gage came crashing back down to earth in an easy matchup against the Lions with just 4 catches for 39 yards. This is certainly a less-than-ideal spot to get Gage back into your lineups against this Bills secondary that is shutting down opposing WRs to league-lows in yards per game (119) and fantasy points per target (1.0). Gage is a risky WR4 here.”
The big news for the Bills is that the NFL’s new COVID policies allowed even their unvaccinated players to be activated off the list in time to play in Week 17 — that includes slot WR Cole Beasley and rising star Gabriel Davis.
Bills activate four players, including WRs Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, from reserve/COVID-19 listhttps://t.co/E0Nytoio62 pic.twitter.com/fkEwrkdTSe— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) December 29, 2021
The question is if the Bills will keep rolling with Week 16 star Isaiah McKenzie, who had his best-ever game with 11/125/1 receiving… and was the subject of my best tweet ever (if I do say so myself).
Isaiah McKenzie— Joe Dolan (@FG_Dolan) December 26, 2021
Scoring touchdowns on fourth down in a big Week 16
Unfortunately, I don’t think McKenzie is playable this week despite how well he played last week. But it also does give me some pause on playing Beasley — I’d rank the Bills’ WRs this week Stefon Diggs > Davis > Beasley > McKenzie > Emmanuel Sanders.
The Bills also have a hugely viable RB2 this week in a good matchup with Devin Singletary. Singletary stayed in control of this backfield last week as he led the way in snaps (68%) and touches (17) over Zack Moss (33% snaps | 4 touches). Matt Breida was a healthy scratch.