Bills-Rams DFS Thursday Night Showdown

The first showdown slate of the regular season is here, and we have two juggernauts fighting it out in Week 1.

The Buffalo Bills are 2.5-point favorites on the road against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night. The game should be competitive and has a total of 52.5 points. The Bills are projected to be without star cornerback Tre’Davious White and will lean on other plays to step up in the secondary and Von Miller to help the pass rush.

The Rams have concerns with Matthew Stafford’s elbow. However, he has played through plenty of injuries in his career, and this will likely be the healthiest he will this season.

For more information laying out the format, refer to my showdown primer here. This is a good place to start if you are unfamiliar with my work.

Previous matchups do not predict future results, but they provide insights into how teams find success against each other. The last time these teams played in Week 3 of 2020, the Rams had the best defense in football, and Josh Allen broke out. The final score was 32-35, and the Rams scored 29 points in the second half.

Both teams utilized zone coverage at upwards of 75 percent of dropbacks. However, when the Rams blitzed; Allen threw 3 touchdowns on 8 attempts. Most of Devin Singletary’s production through the air came on plays where they rushed four or fewer. Additionally, 230 of Allen’s 311 yards came from targeting the slot WR.

Jalen Ramsey was targeted in the red zone and gave up 2 touchdowns on 4 targets for 5 yards. Jared Goff also threw for more than 300 yards, and Cooper Kupp led them in receiving with 107 yards on 9 receptions. Darrell Henderson ran for more than 100 yards and averaged 5.7 yards, with his longest run being 14 yards. The teams are different in many ways for Thursday, but both are better offensively this time. 

Bills-Rams DFS: Information to Know

Bills Offense vs. Rams Defense

  • The Bills promoted within to replace Brian Daboll as Offensive Coordinator with Ken Dorsey, who will be calling plays for the first time.
  • They also added Joe Brady from the Carolina Panthers to be a QB coach, who will likely add influence to the offense.
  • These two coaches have worked with Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. I am intrigued to see what passing game role they utilize for James Cook this season.
  • The key departures for the Bills will be Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders, replacing those two players with Isaiah McKenzie and Jamison Crowder.
  • Last year, the Rams ran zone coverage at the second highest rate in the NFL and utilized Cover 4 at one of the highest rates.
  • They blitzed on 21% of plays in Zone Coverage.
  • The Rams gave up the 10th most YPA to the slot.
  • They were a top 10 run defense in 2021 in YPC, despite utilizing light boxes on 57% of their opponents’ carries.

Rams Offense vs. Bills Defense

  • The Rams’ key departures were Andrew Whitworth, Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr. They gave Joe Noteboom the spot at left tackle and added Allen Robinson in free agency.
  • The Rams utilized 11 personnel (1 RB and 1 TE) in the red zone at 82%, the highest in the NFL.
  • The Bills’ defense against the top-15 scoring offenses last season gave up 28 ppg.
  • In every game the Bills gave up 30 points, the opponent had more than 100 total yards rushing.
  • They struggled to stop the elite-level running backs Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette.
  • They also run zone coverage at a high rate.
  • They didn’t allow a single touchdown of more than 20 air yards last season.
  • Stafford had the most passing yards on throws more than 20 yards but threw 9 interceptions on those throws.

Data Provided by SIS

Offensive Statistics and Tendencies

Statistic Los Angeles Rams Buffalo Bills
1st Personnel Group 11 11
2nd Personnel Group 12 21
YPA vs. Zone 8.3 7.4
YPA vs. Man 8.9 7.1
YPA vs. Blitz 8.7 7.5
% TGT to Wide 21.1% 30.8%
% TGT to Slot 55.7% 43.2%
% TGT to RB 12.9% 14.5%
% TGT to TE 9.7% 6.5%
YPC 4.0 4.8
Gap Run % 20% 33%
Zone Run % 80% 61%
Red Zone Pass Rate 57.7% 54.4%
Red Zone Rush Rate 42.3% 45.6%

Defensive Statistics and Tendencies

Statistic Los Angeles Rams Buffalo Bills
Zone Coverage % 68% 57%
Man Coverage % 14% 29%
Primary Coverage Cover 3 Cover 1
Secondary Coverage Cover 4 Cover 3
Blitz % 26% 23%
Stacked Box % 4% 19%
YPC 4.0 4.2
Red Zone TD % 51.8% 51.1%

Bills-Rams DFS: Multiplier Pool

  • Cooper Kupp
    • Last season, he commanded a 30% target share vs. man and zone coverage and was the only player in the previous three years to do so. The Bills are without Tre’Davious White, however, I anticipate teams utilizing two defenders on him for most plays. 
    • Averaged 4.6 yards per route run vs. Man Coverage
    • My only concern for Kupp is Allen Robinson’s ability to take touchdowns away in the red zone, and if Kupp doesn’t have a 30-point game, it will be hard to pay off as a multiplier. I prefer Kupp multiplier lineups with only Stafford and four Bills.
  • Josh Allen
    • Averages 7.4 yards per attempt against zone coverage and has a 10-9 TD-INT ratio.
    • Of the 20 QBs with 40 pass attempts against zone blitz, Allen ranked 20th in yards per attempt.
    •  Twenty of Allen’s 57 designed runs have come within the red zone.
    • Allen’s volume as a quarterback will always keep him in play at the multiplier spot, but at his salary on DraftKings, he is more of a flex play, and without bonuses or PPR, he’s a preferred multiplier on FanDuel.
  • Matthew Stafford
    • Stafford averaged 8.3 YPA against zone coverage but threw 12 interceptions.
    • Averaged nine yards per attempt against man coverage with a 14-3 TD-INT ratio.
    • The Bills blitzed Patrick Mahomes on only one drop back in the regular season matchup with White, but in the playoffs blitzed him seven times, where he threw for 72 yards and a touchdown.
    • The Bills blitzed Tom Brady 12 times without White, and he threw for more than 100 yards.
    • On 110 dropbacks vs the blitz. Stafford threw 13 touchdowns, had no interceptions and averaged 8 yards per attempt.
    • Stafford depends on pass catchers, so I am looking to utilize him with multiple Rams’.
  • Stefon Diggs
    • Diggs led the NFL in end zone targets but only converted on 6/19 targets. 
    • Diggs will get plenty of Ramsey, but with how the Rams play a lot of zone coverage, his route tree could lead him away for many plays.
    • 25% TGT Share vs. Zone Coverage
    • Diggs isn’t a fade in any matchup, but out of the multiplier group, I am least likely to put him at the position. 
  • Allen Robinson
    • Kupp had 13 red zone touchdowns last season. Since 2015, Allen Robinson has had 31/38 touchdowns come from inside the red zone.
    • In 2019, Robinson had 98 targets from the slot and averaged 2.03 yards per route run.
    • Sean McVay has never had a WR with his size and skill set, and I am very high on Robinson in this showdown slate.
    • For Single Entries, Robinson is my favorite player to put at the multiplier spot. 
  • Isaiah McKenzie
    • Isaiah McKenzie is projected to replace Cole Beasley, who had a 20% target share vs. zone coverage the last two years.
    • The Rams gave up the 10th most YPA to the slot. 
    • 15 players had more than 50 receiving yards from routes run from the slot. 
    • McKenzie will be very popular on both sites, and for DraftKings, I will be utilizing him as the multiplier in large field GPPs.

Bills-Rams DFS: FLEX Pool

  • Cam Akers
    • The backfield will be a timeshare, but I expect Akers to see 60% of the work.
    • I don’t anticipate the workload being enough to justify his price tag; however, he will get chances in the red zone.
    • He’s a player that I will utilize in non-Stafford builds, but if Stafford is in the lineup, I prefer Gabe Davis at the lower price. 
  • Gabe Davis
    • He will have a full-time role with Emmanuel Sanders gone.
    • Despite not being in a full-time role in 2021, Davis was 18th in the NFL in end zone targets and was targeted on 25% of routes vs. a blitz.
    • Against zone coverage, he did not have a touchdown in 2021 but had five drops.
    • Davis isn’t a popular player for my builds, but not someone I am willing to leave out of my player pool.
  • Dawson Knox
    • Is playable in builds of Allen CPT because his best games are tied to touchdowns. He had one game with more than 10 points when he did not score a touchdown.
  • Tyler Higbee
    • Will likely be the third option in the offense behind Kupp and Robinson. A player I would deploy with Stafford CPT lineups. 
  • Darrell Henderson
    • Capable of taking red zone carries from Akers, Henderson has been more efficient in their respective careers.
    • Was listed on the injury report last week. He’s another player, I am not looking to get to with these passing attacks.
  • Matt Gay
    • Was 32/34 on FGs last season and had multiple games where he kicked three field goals.
    • 38% of the time a game hits over 50 points, there is a kicker in the top 8 of scoring.
  • Tyler Bass
    • Was 28/32 on FGs last season and had a few games with multiple FGM.
    • 38% of the time a game hits over 50 points, there is a kicker in the top 8 of scoring.
  • Bills Defense
    • Stafford had 4 interceptions returned for touchdowns in 2021.
    • The loss of Andrew Whitworth.
    • My preference is a kicker over the defense.
  • James Cook
    • 85% of the targets to running backs were when a team rushed four or fewer. Allen is willing to utilize running backs when teams don’t blitz.
    • Cook profiles as a good receiving back and will add a missing dimension to this offense in the passing game.
    • Cook may take snaps inside the 20, but it’s unlikely he will see snaps inside the 10.
  • Tutu Atwell
    • Van Jefferson is missing the game, Atwell has the speed to stretch the field and makes for an intriguing GPP play.
  • Lance McCutcheon
    • McCutcheon put up numbers in the preseason and could see the field now that Jefferson is out.
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