Bills vs Rams Fantasy Football Preview: Start/Sit Decisions for Matthew Stafford, Devin Singletary, More
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images). Pictured: Matthew Stafford
Thursday marks the long-awaited end to mock drafts, training camp gossip, preseason hot takes and, of course, the seemingly endless doldrums of the NFL offseason.
Many lineup decisions — like starting Cooper Kupp or Josh Allen — are easy. Below are some fringe players at each position you may be on the fence about starting in the Bills vs. Rams Thursday Night Football game based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Rams Week 1 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
QB Matthew Stafford
Stafford finished as the QB6 last season in fantasy. He appeared in all 17 games and completed 67% of his passes for 4,886 yards, 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. After losing only Robert Woods (and gaining Allen Robinson) this offseason, he was poised to be a locked-in QB1 once again, but an elbow injury has some managers concerned about his season outlook.
However, Rams head coach Sean McVay assured the media on Monday that Stafford would have “no limitations” with his elbow come Thursday against the Bills.
Verdict: Look for other options on the waiver wire.
The matchup against a stout Bills’ defense isn’t great, nor is this injury — no matter what McVay says. That said, if Stafford is your QB1, you probably have to start him unless Derek Carr (@ LAC) or Kirk Cousins (vs. GB) are available on waivers.
WR Allen Robinson
Robinson burned many fantasy managers — including myself — after an abysmal 2021 campaign. He caught just 38 of 66 targets for 410 yards and one touchdown over 12 games and finished as the WR88 in half-PPR scoring. Prior to that, he posted back-to-back WR10 finishes in half PPR.
I have hope for Robinson as a bounce-back candidate this season as he goes from being the No. 1 option in an abysmal Bears offense to the No. 2 option on an elite Rams team. This may sound like a downgrade at first glance, but being L.A.’s No. 2 will have its perks: Robinson won’t draw elite or double coverage with Cooper Kupp around and Stafford is a monumental upgrade from the 2021 version of Justin Fields.
Verdict: Start as a WR3/Flex with upside.
The matchup may be suboptimal, but Robinson offers a ton of upside as a talented player on a high-octane offense.
RB Cam Akers
Akers’ Year 2 breakout was stymied before it even started after he suffered a devastating torn Achilles during training camp last season. He made a swift recovery and returned for the final game of the regular season, plus the Rams’ postseason run, though his production during this period was trivial.
Even when Akers was healthy in his rookie campaign, head coach Sean McVay could not commit to any one running back and instead opted for a tripartite committee along with Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown. Based on McVay’s tendencies and Akers’ injury history, it feels unlikely he would allow the third-year back to shoulder a full workload right out of the gate (or ever).
Verdict: Sit if you have better options on your bench.
The matchup isn’t ideal, nor is the injury history or McVay’s affinity for the RBBC (running back by committee). I’m lower than many on Akers, who could be a major bust this season. I would consider starting players such as Rashaad Penny (vs. DEN), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (@ ARI) or Damien Harris (@ MIA) over Akers this week. That said, there’s a good chance you may not have other options if you drafted him as your RB2. Akers is a risky RB2 with a near-zero floor this week.
TE Tyler Higbee
Higbee has not been fantasy relevant since his banner season in 2019 when he finished as the TE9 in half-PPR. Since then, he has posted TE17 and TE19 finishes in the last two seasons, respectively.
Higbee is an unsexy TE2 option this week and most weeks barring a major shift. I would rather start players like Albert Okwuegbunam (@ SEA), Irv Smith Jr. (vs. GB), Hunter Henry (@ MIA) or David Njoku (@ CAR) — some of which could be available on your waiver wire.
Bills Week 1 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
WR Gabriel Davis
Davis has yet to live up to his lofty hype since entering the NFL as fourth-round pick in 2020. He was the WR57 and WR50 in half PPR his first two seasons with the Bills, but finished out the 2021 season strong, potentially solidifying his place as the WR2 behind Stefon Diggs. Josh Allen’s No. 2 is an enviable position, which could easily vault Davis into being a reliable starting option week-to-week.
Verdict: Start as a WR3/Flex with upside.
RB Devin Singletary
Singletary quietly finished as the RB24 in half-PPR formats last season. He established dominance over Zack Moss and posted 228 touches for 1,098 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns.
However, it looks like Singletary will, once again, have to share a backfield heading into 2022 with the Bills drafting former Georgia Bulldog, James Cook, in the second round of this year’s draft. I predict this will become some type of committee, with Singletary handling some of the early-down work and Cook taking some of the pass-catching snaps.
Verdict: Start as a RB3/Flex.
Unless you went “zero RB,” it’s unlikely Singletary was your RB1 or RB2. I would feel comfortable starting him as a RB3/Flex, especially earlier in the season as Cook works to establish a role in this offense.
TE Dawson Knox
Knox has been one of my favorite young tight ends since he was selected by the Bills in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was a bit of an afterthought in his first two seasons, but is fresh off of a breakout campaign in which he caught 49 of 71 targets for 587 yards and nine touchdowns — good enough for a TE7 finish in half PPR.
Knox reportedly just inked a monster, four-year, $53.6 million extension on Wednesday, indicating the Bills’ long-term commitment to their young star.
Verdict: Start as a TE1.
Knox was a solid late-round value pick who could easily return on investment at his ADP. Assuming you do not also have one of the premium tight ends (Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, Kyle Pitts), he is a no-brainer starter in the season kickoff against the Rams.