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NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Best DraftKings & FanDuel Plays for Bills vs Rams Week 1 Thursday Night Football (September 8)

Eric MacPherson

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NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Best DraftKings & FanDuel Plays for Bills vs Rams Week 1 Thursday Night Football (September 8)

NFL Sunday Week 1 is clearly Christmas, so that means via a little stretch of the imagination, Thursday Night Football is basically Christmas Eve. Stokastic is bringing plenty of NFL DFS tools and information for all of the different slates, game formats and sites.

This column will provide free analysis for the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. This will include team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks for today. There is loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown analysis to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 1 Thursday Night Football slate featuring the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills.

NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Week 1 Thursday Night Football

Buffalo has placed defensive back Tre’Davious White (knee) on the reserve/PUP list, while offensive lineman Tommy Doyle (foot) and tight end Quintin Morris (hamstring) is questionable. Los Angeles will be without linebackers Travin Howard (groin) and Daniel Hardy (ankle) along with defensive back Quentin Lake (knee) and offensive lineman Logan Bruss (knee). Van Jefferson (knee) is also out, though he is expected back in the next week or two.

Buffalo Bills: 27.0 Points

Quarterback

Josh Allen was able to harness his skills and play within himself last season, while still providing plenty of fantasy goodness. Over the last two seasons in 33 starts, the 26-year-old has averaged 271.2 aerial yards per game with 73 touchdowns and just 25 interceptions. Last year he averaged 7.2 runs per game with 44.9 yards, which was the his best output since his rookie season.

The Bills also showed dramatic improvement in results as well as trust in their running game throughout the season and all of the key skill position players are returning for another season with Allen at the helm. Buffalo is one of the favorites to bring home the Lombardi Trophy and it is getting plenty of respect as two-point favorites heading onto the home field of the defending Super Bowl champions.

Running Back

Last year for the first half of the season there was a running back by committee with Devin Singletary and Zack Moss splitting the opportunities with Matt Breida sneaking in for a few key touches here and there. Over the last seven games of the season, it was Singletary who wrested the job unto himself culminating in 100% of the snaps in the AFC Championship Game.

This season, the expectation is that Singletary will be the lead back in a timeshare with rookie James Cook likely being his direct replacement. Yes, James is Dalvin’s younger brother and also may get a few plays called specifically for him to take advantage of his playmaking abilities. Moss will likely be the short-yardage back and of course still could see more snaps than Cook, if the coaches are not ready to put too much pressure on a rookie making his debut on the road and under the primetime spotlight..

Wide Receiver

Stefon Diggs is the clear WR1 and we are all aware of his bona fides. Gabriel Davis made some serious noise in the playoffs with five touchdowns, including four in Kansas City in a heartbreaking 42-36 overtime thriller. Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders are out, which should elevate Isaiah McKenzie to a more prominent role as the slot receiver.

Veteran Jamison Crowder was brought in for depth and as a contingency plan if McKenzie is not ready for a full time gig. Buffalo also drafted Khalil Shakir in the fifth round after he showed promise as a four-year player for Boise State.

Tight End

Dawson Knox made a dramatic leap in his third season setting career highs across the board. Most importantly for fantasy gamers, he consolidated most of the tight end production and became a red zone favorite of Allen. Knox had nine regular season touchdowns and two in the playoffs. Tommy Sweeney is the backup, but he is mostly used as a blocker seeing just two targets over the last 11 games, including the postseason, compared to the 42 that went to his counterpart. This duo accounted for all but three snaps at this position in essentially a 70/30 split in favor of Knox.

Defense/Special Teams

Von Miller is now playing for Buffalo after half a season in Los Angeles. While the eight-time Pro Bowler was not as effective as he was prior to missing the 2020 season with an ankle injury, he should give a boost in the locker room and the defense huddle while making a few players here and there. The Bills do a good job of pressuring opposing quarterbacks and their offensive firepower also helps out their defense. It will be interesting to see how the Los Angeles offensive line is able to handle multiple quarterback threats at the same time.

Los Angeles Rams: 25.0 Points

Quarterback

Matthew Stafford was everything the Rams hoped for after they acquired him in a blockbuster deal prior to last season. Obviously it worked out well as they ended up winning the Super Bowl. Now for the bad news, Stafford is dealing with an elbow issue and basically on a mid-week “pitch count” limiting his throwing in an effort to keep him healthy for game days.

Running Back

Cam Akers of course injured his Achilles in the preseason and probably came back a little too early as Los Angeles was making a playoff push that ultimately saw them run the postseason table. Akers was held out for a couple weeks in the preseason with a “soft tissue” injury, though head coach Sean McVay was somewhat cagey about the specifics. Since he did practice in full this week, he should be ready to go on Thursday … but … it looks like we may have a split backfield with Darrell Henderson. .

Henderson also missed time with a similarly non-specific injury, but he is also expected to be ready for Thursday Night Football. Akers should get the first crack at things, however, Henderson is $3,200 cheaper on DraftKings making him a better point per dollar option. FanDuel has a similar difference at $3,500, though proportionally both of the running backs have a larger cap hit on the blue site than they do on DraftKings.

Wide Receiver

Van Jefferson is out, Robert Woods is now a Titan and Odell Beckham Jr. is rehabilitating an ACL injury and currently an unsigned free agent. That means another healthy heaping workload for Cooper Kupp, who is coming off a season for the ages. Last year, Kupp topped the leaderboards for targets, receptions, yards, touchdowns, yards after catch, first downs and plays of 20+ yards. Allen Robinson II will be joining him after a couple of lackluster seasons in Chicago and it will be interesting to see what he has left in the tank. Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell will be the other two receivers seeing a semi-significant snap share.

Tight End

Tyler Higbee dominated the looks at the tight end last year with 85 of the 94 targets to the position. Brycen Hopkins and Kendall Blanton are likely to be on the field for around 20% of the snaps each, though the over/under for their combined targets is probably 0.5 and the under is looking tempting. Last year, Hopkins had seven targets and Blanton had one, with the only other non-Higbee target going to Johnny Mundt.

Defense/Special Teams

Last year Allen had a 3.9% sack rate and a 2.3% interception rate, which definitely limits defensive fantasy opportunities. The Rams are the Super Bowl champs, at home and they have a solid defense anchored by Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, plus they also added an aging but still effective Bobby Wagner.

Thursday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy

The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value, but for those taking the MME approach, remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. This also works conversely with pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.

Week 1 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Josh Allen: Even with his lofty salary he is the best point per dollar option on FanDuel and there are enough discount dandies on DraftKings that we should have no issues featuring him in the multiplier slot for our “main” lineups.
  2. Cooper Kupp: Coming off a legendary season and even though the defense will be rolling toward him, volume should carry him to success. Touchdowns of course will be the difference maker between solid and spectacular fantasy production.
  3. Stefon Diggs: Still the top option in his offense, though he did not come close to the same production he had in his first Buffalo campaign when he was an All-Pro, he still earned Pro Bowl honors for the second straight season.
  4. Matthew Stafford: The game is projecting to be a scorefest and until we see otherwise, we have to believe the elbow is okay. Right?
  5. Allen Robinson II: The Rams offense should be a breath of fresh air after four seasons in Chicago.
  6. Gabe Davis: Caught literal lightening in a bottle last season with four scores in the AFC Championship, temper expectations, but he is ready to maintain the level of production he showed down the stretch.
  7. Ben Skowronek: We have seen him serve as the third wideout before and even with his surging popularity, there are plenty of ways to find differentiation.
  8. Khalil Shakir: DraftKings only, but at $200 if the rookie gets two targets for no catches, it was worth the risk to free up the salary cap. inactive tonight
  9. Dawson Knox: Does not have to share targets at his position and is likely the third option in the passing game and second choice in the red zone.
  10. Darrell Henderson: Dramatic savings on DraftKings over Akers, but if the DFS Echo chamber gets going, it could easily be the moving going to Akers. Unless you have a steadfast opinion on either back, taking the less popular one will help with differentiation in the gigantic tournaments.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Cam Akers: Shared backfield, still barely a year removed from a ruptured Achilles tendon and was dinged up in training camp.
  2. Matt Gay: Earned a Pro Bowl nod last year with a 94.1% conversion rate and he is 10 of 14 from 50 plus in his 40 career games.
  3. Tyler Bass: Through two seasons Bass has an 84.8% success rate and has made 6 of 10 from beyond 50 yards.
  4. Isaiah McKenzie: Solid option at a favorable salary, will be sharing the load with a rookie and a savvy veteran in Crowder.
  5. James Cook: Likely to get at least a couple plays to see what he can do, really needs to dazzle to be on the field enough to contribute fantasy production without a touchdown.

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Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Los Angeles D/ST: Home crowd, but a tough opponent. Need a pick-six or scoop and score. There is a chance that Donald could get multiple sacks himself, but the Bills have a savvy coaching staff.
  2. Buffalo D/ST: Stafford limits turnovers, but the offensive line may not be totally jelled as a unit just yet.
  3. Jamison Crowder: Lots of competition for targets and he is likely a red zone afterthought if he is even on the field.
  4. Zack Moss: Two touchdown plunges incoming for the inaugural 2022 NFL Prime Time Troll Game.
  5. Tutu Atwell: Not much of a track record for production.
  6. Brandon Powell: Slated to return punts and kickoffs, may see a few offensive snaps.
  7. John Wolford: Likely would get in the mix if anything happens to Stafford’s elbow.
  8. Brycen Hopkins, Tommy Sweeney, Kendall Blanton: Woo Hoo, backup tight ends from a pair of one tight end offenses.
  9. Lance McCutcheon, Kyren Williams, Jake Funk, Taiwan Jones, Jake Kumerow: Half of this motley crew will probably be inactive.

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Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].


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