Game Predictions & Player Projections - BUF vs. NE

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: BUF 13, NE 23 (Line: NE by 4.5, O/U = OFF)

UPDATE: Sammy Watkins is on injured reserve now and Greg Salas is out with his strained groin. Charles Clay is also listed as questionable and was limited in practices the last couple of days but will play.

Jacoby Brissett should be available to play though he and Jimmy Garoppolo are both listed as questionable. Garoppolo has a chance to play but neither are recommended starts this week and are far too risky this week. Rob Gronkowski is also questionable and was limited in all practices but is expected to play. I will credit him with a moderate projection but he is still a huge risk to start and could end up like last week.

The Bills pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the young year when they took down the visiting Cardinals last week. The Patriots redefine surprise each week since they've gone unbeaten with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski not being involved. Playing this at home makes a major difference. I'll leave Brissett as the starter but there's no certainty here.

The Patriots swept the Bills last year. They won 30-13 at home in Week 11 and 40-32 in Buffalo during Week 2.

Buffalo Bills

1 @BAL 7-13 10 BYE ---
2 NYJ 31-37 11 @CIN ---
3 ARI 33-18 12 JAC ---
4 @NE --- 13 @OAK ---
5 @LA --- 14 PIT ---
6 SF --- 15 CLE ---
7 @MIA --- 16 MIA ---
8 NE --- 17 @NYJ ---
9 @SEA ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
BUF @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Tyrod Taylor 40 160
RB LeSean McCoy 60,1 4-30
TE Charles Clay 5-40
PK Stephen Hauschka 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Bills beat the Cardinals but it wasn't about the offense. There's been nothing happening in the passing game aside from two long scores but the rushing effort has been at least adequate. The defense is the big surprise though they were dinged by the Jets. It appears that firing the defensive coordinator put a fire under them for one week but these next two games are going to be very tough on the offense that so far only scored seven points in the only other road game this year.

QUARTERBACK : Tyrod Taylor has been distinctively different in all three games. He only had 111 passing yards versus the Ravens. Then he threw for 297 yards and three scores against a tougher Jets secondary. And then went back to only 119 passing yards and no scores versus the Cardinals but ran for 76 yards and one score. Important to note - Taylor' worst performance by far was in his only other road game.

RUNNING BACK : LeSean McCoy still hasn't rushed more than 17 times in any game but has three rushing touchdowns and even broke 100 yards last week versus the Cardinals. He is getting three or four receptions as well. McCoy takes nearly every touch for the backfield and his combined yardage props up his fantasy value. But he's topped 60 rushing yards just once.

WIDE RECEIVER : Aside from the long receptions by Marquise Goodwin and Greg Salas, there has been little happening here. Sammy Watkins was held out last week because of his foot but hasn't had more than 43 yards in a game anyway. Robert Woods topped out at 51 yards and that was just last week. This would be the worst set of receivers statistically were it not for the two long catches against the Jets. There is not a shred of fantasy value here.

I will assume that Watkins remains out and update as warranted.

TIGHT END : Charles Clay failed to catch either of his passes last week. He's a nonfactor along with the rest of the receivers.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Patriots already know the Bills well and are at home - two very big factors this week. While they allowed four scores and plenty of passing yards twice this year, they also shut down Brock Osweiler last week and Tyrod Taylor is unlikely to have a big game on the road unless the Patriots try to mail this one in - which is unlikely since it is divisional.

The only recommended start is LeSean McCoy who is adding work as a receiver to ensure at least moderate stats. A healthy Sammy Watkins would also qualify but that it not going to happen this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BUF 22 20 30 30 22 2
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 14 17 19 20 2 6

New England Patriots

1 @ARI 23-21 10 SEA ---
2 MIA 31-24 11 @SF ---
3 HOU 27-0 12 @NYJ ---
4 BUF --- 13 LA ---
5 @CLE --- 14 BAL ---
6 CIN --- 15 @DEN ---
7 @PIT --- 16 NYJ ---
8 @BUF --- 17 @MIA ---
9 BYE ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB James White 20 2-10
WR Danny Amendola 3-20
WR Brandin Cooks 6-90,1
WR Phillip Dorsett 3-50
WR Julian Edelman 4-30
TE Dwayne Allen 3-30
TE Rob Gronkowski 4-50
PK Stephen Gostkowski 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots made a dramatic statement when they relied on a rookie third string quarterback and came away with a 27-0 shutout over what is usually a top five defense. One more week before Tom Brady finally returns and every reason to believe that it will be a 4-0 record when he comes back. Rob Gronkowski returned but did not make a catch. The reality is that by Week 5, the Patriots will be undefeated and finally back to full strength.

QUARTERBACK : Jacoby Brissett wasn't asked to do too much and he was just good enough that the offense continued to move the ball. He only completed 11 of 19 passes for 103 yards and no scores but had no turnovers. And he ran for 48 yards and a score. Brissett left the game with what was feared to be a severe thumb injury but that was only a sprain and he looks likely to play this week. Another home game against a much worse defense is bound to let Brissett continue to not be a liability as expected.

The Patriots at least claim there is a chance that Jimmy Garoppolo can play this week. And that Brissett will be able to play. I will assume Brissett takes another start but under no terms should anyone rely on either.

RUNNING BACK : The Patriots are not throwing much to their running backs even with Rob Gronkowski out. But LeGarrette Blount has provided most of the offense this year and already scored four times. He has 298 rushing yards. That should repeat this week with another home game and a rookie quarterback to protect. Blount is the only player worth fantasy consideration in this backfield. And all this could change once Tom Brady returns.

WIDE RECEIVER : Using Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett has not done much for the wideouts even with Gronkowski out. Danny Amendola scored twice in Week 2 but still has not gained more than 48 yards in any game. Julian Edelman has not yet scored but leads the group with seven catches in both of the Garoppolo games but then just four catches for 38 yards with Brissett. And again - this all changes once Brady is back. The defense and rushing effort has been enough to win games.

TIGHT END : While Martellus Bennett blew up in Week 2 with five catches for 114 yards and one score playing with Garoppolo, he only managed two catches for 10 yards with Brissett. And Rob Gronkowski was active and suited up but was only thrown one pass that he did not catch. He will be better for this game but with the rookie at the helm, he's still a huge risk for a low production game and that was if he was completely healthy.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Hard to forecast what is going to happen but it is most likely that Brissett plays and he mostly hands off like last week. Last week showed that only LeGarrette Blount was a safe play and he faces a defense that allowed five rushing scores over the last two games. Until Tom returns - next week! - the passing elements are too risky to consider. The Pats defense is a good start as well.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 9 17 15 22 7 11
Preventing Fantasy Points BUF 7 22 32 2 18 8

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