Week 1 Fantasy Football Preview: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams


Hundreds of fantasy football players reference the Lineup Setting Heat Map when setting their lineups every week. The video above is less than three minutes if you want to see for yourself if this will be helpful for you. If so, you can sign up here for less than a beer (poetry).


Easily THE most valuable aspect of the Heat Map is the detailed written analysis for every single fantasy-relevant player, every single week. Yes, all 250-300 of them. So that you can sample what we're brewing for week 1, I've included my player notes for everyone in the Bills at Rams game below. This is just a tiny taste.


Hope you enjoy!

As of this writing (Tuesday 9/6), the NFL's opening game, Bills at Rams, is tied for the 2nd highest over/under on the slate at 52.5. It figures to be one of the best games in week 1 and dare I say the NFL's first game of the season could be a preview of the NFL's last?


With the 2nd smallest spread between the two teams (the Bills are favored by 2), this one seems like it will be a thrilling shootout that should remain close for all 60 (or more) minutes.


It's a game to target in fantasy football; the Bills have the 3rd highest implied total (27.25) and the Rams have the 8th highest implied total (25.25) on the opening slate.


All of this is terrific news for football fans and fantasy football players alike. Like they will be all season, the Bills and Rams are teams to target in week 1 of fantasy football.

Josh Allen

Josh Allen has THE best odds to win MVP in the NFL this season, and he'll look to get off to a hot start against last year's Super Bowl Champions. He finished the regular season on a tear last year, registering 20 or more fantasy points in 5 of his last 6 contests (including 3 over 30).


Emmanuel Sanders is gone but Gabriel Davis looks more than ready for the spotlight. Likewise, Cole Beasley is out of town but Buffalo brought in Jamison Crowder (who seems to have been passed by the exciting Isaiah McKenzie).


TLDR; Josh Allen will be just fine with his current supporting cast.


As for the Rams defense, be aware that they held QBs to the 5th fewest fantasy points last season and closed the season on a high note, allowing ZERO 18 point games since Aaron Rodgers got em for 26.28 way back in week 12.


Still, it's a brand new season and those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt so big that even a well done steak would be tolerable.


And what are you gonna do? Bench Josh Allen? Let's move on.

Devin Singletary, James Cook and Zack Moss

The good news for Devin Singletary is that he finished last season on a tear, wrapping up his final 5 games with 16 or more PPR points, including 23 or more in his last 3 games.


The bad news is that it's no longer last season, and the Bills have made some changes to the backfield. Most notably, they were clearly in the market for a pass-catching RB after nearly signing JD McKissic, then signing Duke Johnson, then using a 2nd round pick on this class' premier pass-catching back, James Cook.


And if that wasn't enough, preseason usage indicates Zack Moss still exists as a legitimate short yardage and TD threat.


So to recap, Singletary might get work between the 20s, Cook might serve as a passing down specialist, and Moss might handle goal line work.


Translation; this is a tangled mess heading into week 1.


It certainly doesn't help anything that the Rams allowed the 11th fewest PPR points per game to RBs last season, including the 10th fewest touches, 7th fewest scrimmage yards and 15th fewest TDs.


On the brighter side, the Rams DID allow the 13th most catches (5.1 per game) and the 16th most receiving yards (39.2 per game) to RBs.


Again, remember that last year's numbers really don't mean a thing here.


Still, that's in line with what I'd expect from this potential shootout; a game where pass catchers shine and the ground games take a backseat.


I'd still choose Singletary over any Bills back in week 1, but I wouldn't be excited to start any of them and I wouldn't be surprised if Cook—or Moss—outscore Singletary in the opener.


If you've played fantasy football before, would it REALLY surprise you if Moss falls into the end zone once or twice when we're all expecting fireworks elsewhere?


Stefon Diggs

Stefon Diggs turned in another great season last year, albeit with a "slower" (lol I guess) finish to the year; Diggs landed between 9 and 15 in 5 of his last 7 games (he mixed in a 21.5 point and a 23.1 point game for good measure).


Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley (and their 184 targets have left for darker pastures, and Diggs should get all the work he can handle this season with exciting sidekick Gabriel Davis by his side.


It certainly doesn't hurt that, as a team, the Rams allowed their fair share of production to WRs last year, offering the 16th most PPR points per game to WRs on top of the 3rd most catches (13.8 per game) and 7th most receiving yards (167.3 per game).


Of course, that's at a team level, not individual level where, on a scarier note, Diggs is likely to dance with Jalen Ramsey all night long.


Still, you're not benching your 1st/2nd round pick in a likely shootout that should feature plenty of points.


Temper expectations for Diggs, but don't get cute.


Gabriel Davis

It's shaping up to be an exciting first week for Gabriel Davis in his first season as a full time starter after flashing insane upside on limited time in previous seasons.


There's a lot working for him in week 1:


- Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders (and their 184 available targets) are out of the picture.


- this looks like it could be a shootout; more points is never a bad thing for fantasy football


- assuming Stefon Diggs DOES get the Jalen Ramsey treatment, that'll leave Gabriel Davis with much more favorable matchups.


- The Rams allowed the 16th most PPR points per game to WRs last season, including the 3rd most catches (13.8 per game) and the 7th most receiving yards (167.3 per game)


Assuming you drafted Davis as WR 3 (or so), he's an exciting play in week 1 with some pretty intense upside.


Isaiah McKenzie 👍 and Jamison Crowder 👎

As you probably know by this point, I'm publicly very high on Isaiah McKenzie this season.


Cole Beasley accumulated 325 targets over the last 3 seasons, including 106 or more in three straight seasons (last season featured the most targets of the slot receiver's career: 112).


There's A LOT of opportunity to be had for whoever seizes the slot role in Buffalo.


Now, to be fair, the Bills DID bring in Jamison Crowder and they did so for a reason; they had him in mind to play slot.


But when Crowder missed time early in camp with an injury, McKenzie saw more time on the field and, as has been reported, the Bills then struggled to get McKenzie OFF of the field.


By all accounts, McKenzie looks like the front runner for the slot receiver role, and I like his chances of getting off to a hot start in this potential shootout where the defense figures to key in on Stefon Diggs.


As for Crowder, he is someone I would not trust in week 1, but I'd have him flagged as a potential in-season pickup.



Dawson Knox

Dawson Knox exploded onto the scene last season, accumulating 71 targets, 49 catches, 587 yards and a whopping 9 TDs to finish as the TE 8 in PPR points per game.


He was very boom or bust on a week to week basis, registering 14 or more PPR points in 7 contests (including three that crossed 20) but landing under 10 in 9 games.


I also noted in my June fantasy football preview of the Buffalo Bills that we need to be wary of negative TD regression this season with Knox after he scored 9 TDs (tied for most among TEs) on just 66 targets (20th "most")


Still, in a potential shootout against a Rams defense that last season allowed the 13th most catches per game to TEs (5.2), Knox is fine as a TE1 option.


He's boom or bust, but shootouts like this give him a better chance of booming.


Matthew Stafford

Besides the Super Bowl, Matthew Stafford finished last season on a high note, rattling off three straight performances of 20 or more fantasy points to close down the season.


In fantasy football, he finished as the QB 7 and averaged 19.5 fantasy points per game. Robert Woods and Odell Beckham are gone (for now) but Allen Robinson—who already has a 1400 yard season on his resume with a much worse QB—is in alongside Cooper Kupp. I'm not expecting Stafford to miss a beat and think he'll mostly pick right back up where he left off; Cooper Kupp + Allen Robinson is a terrifying thought for defenses.


There's two concerns for Stafford heading into week 1:


- offseason reports about his elbow have admittedly been a bit overblow. Coach Sean McVay said he has no hesitations about Stafford or asking him to throw it 50+ times if he needs to. It's a non-issue I wouldn't concern yourself with.


- The Bills were the top unit (by far) in football against QBs last year, holding them to just 12.96 fantasy points per game and 192.5 passing yards per game. They were the only team in football that kept QBs from averaging at least 1 TD against them (.9 TDs per game).


But again, last year is last year and things—especially defenses—change drastically from year to year.


I'd fire up Stafford where I have him while understanding it might be a slow start if the scary Bills defense—which now includes Von Miller—comes out swinging at the champs.


Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson

The Rams are expected to score 25(ish) points, which is the 8th highest implied total on the week 1 slate.


That's the good news; there should be points. There should be TDs.


But really, that's the ONLY shred of optimism I have for Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson in week 1:

  • For starters, it's looking like it'll be a timeshare between the two to start the season. Neither will be a workhorse.

  • Encouragingly, Cam Akers somehow (seriously magic) returned for the playoff run last year after tearing his Achilles earlier in the season. Not so encouragingly, however, he did not look great and was not effective, submitting just 26.3 PPR points on a whopping 59 touches in the final 3 games of the season last year (59 touches—5 catches—for 213 yards and no TDs).

  • Both Akers and Henderson have been dealing with soft tissue injuries

  • The Rams are actually underdogs in this one, potentially signaling a pass-heavy script.

  • It's a new year, but it's also at least worth noting that the Bills were tough on RBs last season, holding them to 21.21 PPR points per game (10th fewest) on 24.3 touches per game (6th fewest) and 118.4 scrimmage yards (12th fewest). That said, on the bright side, they DID allow .9 TDs per game, the 11th most in the support.

But who knows; TDs are what we're hoping for anyways!


Anything is possible in week 1 and it's always appealing knowing a team is expected to score a lot of points like the Rams are; Akers (or Henderson) could easily find the end zone. So all hope is not lost...it just doesn't look like a particularly exciting play on paper by any means.


Cooper Kupp

What do I really even need to say about Cooper Kupp after a 145 catch, 1947 yard, 16 TD campaign on his way to a Super Bowl? The guy is a must-start every single week regardless of opponent.


That said, we should AT LEAST note that the Bills held WRs to the FEWEST PPR points per game last season (25.92) including the 4th fewest catches (11.1 per game), fewest yards (117.1) and fewest TDs (just .5 per game).


Still, Cooper Kupp is THE WR1 and, as long as Matthew Stafford is his QB, Kupp is matchup proof.


For what it's worth, DraftKings Sportsbook has Cooper Kupp pegged for 7.5 catches, 93.5 yards and even a TD (roughly 22-23 PPR points). Not too shabby


BONUS: It's looking less and less likely like Van Jefferson will be able to go this week. That's a boost for Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson and Tyler Higbee, while Ben Skowronek, Lance McCutcheon, Brandon Powell, and last year's 2nd round pick and current camp standout, Tutu Atwell, could get some run as WR3. If you're playing a Thursday-only slate, I like Atwell as a super deep dart if you need one.


Allen Robinson

After a miserable 4 years in Chicago that culminated in easily the worst statistical season of his career last year, Allen Robinson joined the Super Bowl Rams as Matthew Stafford's #2 wide receiver.


Still "just" 29, let's never forget ARob's insane 80 catch, 1400 yard, 14 TD campaign with Blake freakin' Bortles way back in 2015.


The guy can play, and I don't recommend letting last year's bummer of a season cloud that judgement. It's also been reported during the offseason that Rams coaches are "in love" with Allen Robinson and love his "approach in meetings, route tree, and where he can line up." The Athletic's Robert Mays went so far as to note the once-stud might be in for a "potential monster year." He's a WR3 with massive upside.


As noted with Cooper Kupp, we should at least acknowledge that the Bills were the best in the business last season when it came to defending WRs, holding them to the fewest PPR points (25.92 per game), 4th fewest catches (11.1 per game), fewest yards (117.1 per game) and fewest TDs (just 1 every other game).


For what it's worth, DraftKings sportsbook set ARob's over/unders for week 1 at 4.5 catches and 55.5 yards (10-11ish PPR points). They did NOT give him favorable odds to score a TD but, to be fair, Cooper Kupp was literally the only player they did.


All in all, ARob is a solid play in this potential shootout.


BONUS: It's looking less and less likely like Van Jefferson will be able to go this week. That's a boost for Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson and Tyler Higbee, while Ben Skowronek, Lance McCutcheon, Brandon Powell, and last year's 2nd round pick and current camp standout, Tutu Atwell, could get some run as WR3. If you're playing a Thursday-only slate, I like Atwell as a super deep dart if you need one.


Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, Lance McCutcheon and Brandon Powell

Last year's 2nd round pick, Tutu Atwell, has been noted as a standout in camp this season.


That's notable since Van Jefferson looks likely to miss this contest.


To be clear, no one really knows if Atwell is in line for number 3 duties behind Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson (Ben Skowronek got that run last year and Brandon Powell and Lance McCutcheon are options as well), but he's the highest upside bet for my money, especially in this potential shootout.


I like Atwell as a longshot dart throw on Thursday-only slates.


Tyler Higbee

2021 was another blegh year for Tyler Higbee as he finished as the TE 18 on 8.8 PPR points per game. It was somewhat a disappointment as some thought he might thrive with Gerald Everett out of the way. He didn't.


But he was fine. He was a useable streamer at tines when in a pinch, registering 10 or more PPR points in 6 of 18 tries.


You're probably not in much of a pinch in week 1 and the matchup itself doesn't inspire a ton of confidence (the Bills held TEs to the 4th fewest PPR points per game last season, including the 2nd fewest catches, 7th fewest yards and 3rd fewest TDs).


Still, you COULD do worse than using a TE that was 5th among TEs in red zone targets last season, especially in a game that could shoot out like this one.


BONUS: It's looking less and less likely like Van Jefferson will be able to go this week. That's a boost for Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson and Tyler Higbee, while Ben Skowronek, Lance McCutcheon, Brandon Powell, and last year's 2nd round pick and current camp standout, Tutu Atwell, could get some run as WR3. If you're playing a Thursday-only slate, I like Atwell as a super deep dart if you need one.


Seriously. I do this every single week, for every single player, on every single team.


But I don't do it here, in article form. I do it here; in the Lineup Setting Heat Map:

It takes me 16 hours a week and helps you win more frequently. That's worth buying a guy a beer each month isn't it?



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