This is not the world I grew up in. When I was a youth, the Patriots ruled the gridiron, and the Bills were perenially hovering around 8-8. Which, at that age, reminded me of two sets of boobs, thanks to the underwhelming maturity of a seven-year-old boy. But after Buffalo’s Week 13 victory over New England on Thursday Night Football, the Bills improved to an AFC East-leading 9-3, while the Patriots dropped to 6-6, or what seven-year-old me liked to call spooning.
Just like when I was a kid, one of these teams possesses a star quarterback who is emerging as the face of the league, and the other isn’t exactly sure what they have. That stud signal caller’s name is Josh Allen (22-for-33, 223 yards, 2 TD; 8 carries, 20 yards), and while he wasn’t otherwordly last night, he shined at times to power the Bills to a two-touchdown win over the Pats.
The real standouts for Buffalo were RB James Cook and WR Stefon Diggs, the latter of which invited Robert Kraft onto the field to play catch with him during pregame in an attempt to boost the once-thriving manager’s spirits. Truly heartwarming. We’ll get to those big performances shortly as I break down what else I saw in another riveting edition of Thursday Night Football.
The Stage NFL Thursday Night Football
Matchup: Buffalo Bills (8-3) at New England Patriots (6-5)
Line: BUF -4
What Happened: Josh Allen passed for 200 yards and two scores, James Cook had the best game of his young career, and Stefon Diggs gave the New England secondary fits all night as the Bills rolled past the Patriots, 24-10.
Bills Pregame Outcome vs. Projections (Half-PPR)
QB Josh Allen – 16.9 (PROJ 20.2)
WR Stefon Diggs – 18.7 (PROJ 14.6)
RB Devin Singletary – 11.1 (PROJ 9.6)
WR Gabe Davis – 8.5 (PROJ 9.3)
WR Isaiah McKenzie – 6.9 (PROJ 6.8)
TE Dawson Knox – 0.0 (PROJ 6.2)
RB James Cook – 13.5 (PROJ 4.2)
WR Khalil Shakir – 1.5 (PROJ 2.2)
RB Nyheim Hines – 2.3 (PROJ 2.0)
Patriots Pregame Projections vs. Outcome (Half-PPR)
RB Rhamondre Stevenson – 10.8 (PROJ 16.3)
QB Mac Jones – 12.5 (PROJ 13.3)
WR Jakobi Meyers – 3.7 (PROJ 9.3)
WR Nelson Agholor – 2.7 (PROJ 5.0)
WR DeVante Parker – 2.6 (PROJ 5.0)
TE Jonnu Smith – 1.6 (PROJ 4.6)
TE Hunter Henry – 2.3 (PROJ 4.2)
RB Kevin Harris – -0.1 (PROJ 3.1)
Kendrick Bourne – 2.0 (PROJ 2.8)
WR Tyquan Thornton – 4.1 (PROJ 2.3)
RB Pierre Strong Jr. – 0.0 (PROJ 2.1)
1. James Cook – 14 carries, 64 yards; 6 receptions (6 targets), 41 yards. Cook out carried Devin Singletary (13 carries, 51 yards, 1 TD) by one attempt and caught all six of his targets. He also rushed for 4.6 yards/carry compared to Singletary’s 3.9. Cook was highly efficient and saw five or more targets from Josh Allen for the second-consecutive week. It’s worth mentioning that Singletary did exceed expectations in his own right, posting 11.1 half-PPR points on just 13 touches.
2. Stefon Diggs – 7 receptions (9 targets), 92 yards, 1 TD. Diggs’ nine targets led the team, and he once again appears primed to turn in a top-10 finish at the position — his eighth such performance in 13 contests this year. This might be the best all-around QB-WR connection in the league. He’s a ROS top-three receiver overall.
1. Dawson Knox – 0 receptions (1 target). It was a lost week for Knox, who failed to catch his lone target. He missed some minutes with a toe injury, but the short duration of his absence doesn’t excuse the underwhelming performance. Knox has three combined targets in the last two weeks.
2. Rhamondre Stevenson – 10 carries, 54 yards; 6 receptions (8 targets), 24 yards. This wasn’t a true bust performance, as Stevenson used his third-straight game with at least six catches to salvage a double-digit fantasy night against the Bills. Still, he fell 5.5 points shy of his projections in half-PPR.
What We Learned
1. The Bills’ backfield is a true two-headed timeshare. Cook and Singletary are both RB3 / Flex plays.
2. Despite having a down week, Stevenson’s multi-dimensional role has him locked in as a back-end ROS RB1.
3. Dawson Knox is a back-end TE1 due to the lack of top-tier options at the position but is beginning to look more and more TD-dependent. You won’t win a fantasy title this year with him in your lineup.
4. Josh Allen has it going even when he doesn’t really have it going. He fell more than three points shy of hitting his projections but still threw for 200 yards and two scores. He’s still the ROS QB1 overall.
5. The Patriots don’t have anyone worth starting in fantasy outside of Stevenson.
1. Can Gabe Davis emerge as a legitimate WR2-3, and can Isaiah McKenzie become a reliable WR3 / Flex for the fantasy playoffs? I feel good about my rosters with Davis plugged in as the WR3, but the volume needs to translate into output after three-straight single-digit weeks. McKenzie’s ceiling isn’t as high, but his increasing volume over the last two weeks has created a safer floor for him.
That’s all for this week, Razzball fam! As always, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.
James Cook is the real deal. I just hope that the Bills trust him enough to put him in a primary role. Only time will tell, but I am sure that Cooks will be a great back for years to come.