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Week 16 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 12, New England Patriots 24


What you need to know

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills struggled offensively in a loss at New England. Josh Allen struggled against the frequent zone defenses that New England used which shut down his running lanes and forced him to make throws into coverage where he was largely unsuccessful. LeSean McCoy had a bad game after being benched on the first carry, while Zay Jones scored a touchdown in garbage time and Robert Foster continued to show promise.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots dominated the Buffalo Bills with the running game in a home victory. The Patriots ran the ball early and often, rushing a total of 47 times compared to just 25 passing attempts. Sony Michel was the lead back and ran successfully throughout the game, breaking the century mark and scoring a touchdown, while James White also scored a touchdown on the ground. Tom Brady was limited by low volume and accuracy struggles, while Julian Edelman scored a touchdown after continuing through a tackling attempt. Rob Gronkowski was held without a catch, a disappointment in a critical week for fantasy football championships.

Buffalo Bills

QB Josh Allen, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 41 - 217 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 5 - 30 - 0
Josh Allen struggled against the New England Patriots defense in a loss in Foxboro. Allen was intercepted twice, the first a corner route that was jumped by a defensive back, and the second a terrible floating throw on an out into traffic. Allen salvaged his fantasy football game with a late touchdown throw to Zay Jones. Jones was wide open on a crossing route after two New England defenders ran into each other in the secondary. Allen struggled against New England, primarily because of a schematic approach where New England showed complicated fronts, but frequently brought just four rushers while playing zones in coverage. The approach forced Allen to make reads where he has not yet developed his game, while also choking off his running lanes. Allen could have had an 82-yard touchdown, on a deep throw to Robert Foster where Foster was open but lost the ball in the sun. Allen will look for a strong finish in week 17 against he Miami Dolphins.

RB LeSean McCoy, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 9 - 0, Rec: 3 - 10 - 0 (3 targets)
LeSean McCoy did not start the game because of a disciplinary issue but received the second carry of game and maintained a lead role in the offense. McCoy was largely ineffective at the end of what has been a lost fantasy season. McCoy did not get any red zone opportunities and caught only three short passes. McCoy still has the ability make defenders miss but has struggled to run behind the Buffalo offensive line all season and is not a great fit for Josh Allen’s passing style. McCoy will look to rebound in the season finale against Miami next week.

RB Keith Ford, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 33 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (4 targets)
Keith Ford received the “start” against the New England Patriots after LeSean McCoy was disciplined and missed the first snap. Ford maintained a secondary role after McCoy returned to the game but finished tied with McCoy with 9 touches. Ford was elevated from the practice squad two weeks ago after injuries plagued Buffalo’s running back depth chart. Ford is a pedestrian athlete, but capable of running between the tackles and catching the ball out of the backfield. He will look to continue producing quality play on tape next week against Miami as he continues to make a case for a 2019 roster spot.

WR Zay Jones, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 67 - 1 (9 targets)
Zay Jones had a quiet first half before salvaging his game with multiple catches in garbage time. Jones has struggled to elevate his game after the trade of release of Kelvin Benjamin and the continued emergence of Robert Foster. Jones managed a deep touchdown when the game was all but over, on a busted coverage where two defenders ran into each other, which left Jones wide open in the end zone. Jones will face Miami next week.

WR Robert Foster, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 52 - 0 (7 targets)
Zay Jones had a quiet first half before salvaging his game with multiple catches in garbage time. Jones has struggled to elevate his game after the trade of release of Kelvin Benjamin and the continued emergence of Robert Foster. Jones managed a deep touchdown when the game was all but over, on a busted coverage where two defenders ran into each other, which left Jones wide open in the end zone. Jones will face Miami next week.

WR Isaiah McKenzie, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (8 targets)
Isaiah McKenzie struggled against the New England Patriots. McKenzie dropped multiple passes, including critical third down targets, and his only catch was a short check down for 8 yards. He will look to rebound next week against Miami.


New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 24 - 126 - 1 TD / 2 INT
Tom Brady had a quiet game against the Buffalo Bills in the fantasy football championship week. New England’s game plan was to run on Buffalo’s defense. The plan was successful and New England was able to establish an early lead and continue leaning on the run. The game plan left Brady with low passing volume. Brady struggled with his accuracy, missing multiple throws underneath to James White and took few chances with his throws. Brady was intercepted twice, once on an apparent miscommunication with Rex Burkhead that a Buffalo defender made a good interception on, and the second a throw to Rob Gronkowski that was tipped. Brady’s touchdown was a throw to Julian Edelman where it looked like Edelman was down by contact but never touched down and scored a touchdown. Brady will host the New York Jets in week 17 when they play for playoff seeding.

RB Sony Michel, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 116 - 1
Sony Michel was the lead back for the New England Patriots against the Buffalo Bills. Michel was leaned on early as the Patriots game plan called on attacking the Bills on the ground. Michel benefitted from a strong performance from his offensive line, repeatedly reeling off successful interior runs. Michel scored a 4-yard touchdown on the second series of the game, a series when Michel had five successful runs. While Michel benefitted from interior running holes, he also showed the ability to make defenders miss, including a chunk gain where he strung together multiple cuts. James White scored a late red zone touchdown, but the carry was on a drive where he dominated, so it was not a threat to Michel’s red zone role.

RB Rex Burkhead, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 39 - 0, Rec: 4 - 40 - 0 (5 targets)
Rex Burkhead saw his first usage of the game on the third series where he had success on the ground before fumbling. Burkhead’s fumble was on a reception where he got upended and sideswiped after the catch, resulting in a nearly unpreventable fumble. He returned on the next series for a run and a catch and was not noticeable punished for the fumble. He was later targeted on a Tom Brady interception, where there was apparently a miscommunication between the two, which led to an easy interception. Burkhead also got the opportunity to kill the clock at the end of the game but had little success on the series as Buffalo was selling out to defend the run.

RB James White, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 41 - 1, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (4 targets)
James White scored a rushing touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in a game where his passing game usage was capped by a run heavy game plan. White’s touchdown was a run in the red zone on a drive where he was the primary back. White had 2 of New England’s 13 receptions, but was targeted two additional times, both errant throws by Tom Brady. White will face the New York Jets next week.

WR Julian Edelman, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 70 - 1 (10 targets)
Julian Edelman was the Patriots leading receiver against the Buffalo Bills. Edelman moved the chains from the slot and added a long touchdown. The touchdown was a bit of a fluke, as Edelman was tackled to the ground, but rolled over two Buffalo defenders without contacting the ground. Edelman was able to get back to his feet and run untouched into the endzone. Edelman was the clear focal point in the passing offense, after Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely during the week. Edelman will face the Jets next week.

WR Cordarrelle Patterson, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 66 - 0, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)
Cordarelle Patterson had a strong game on the ground against the Bills. Patterson was used on four end around sweep plays, that gashed Buffalo for big gains. Buffalo had no answers for New England’s running game, and Patterson was a key component. Patterson only managed one reception on a whip route. Patterson will face the New York Jets in week 17.

TE Rob Gronkowski, 59 offensive snaps (3 targets)
Rob Gronkowski had a forgettable game against the Buffalo Bills, as he went without a catch in the fantasy football championship week. Gronkowski struggled to separate on an out and up route and was later targeted on a short route that went through his hands for an interception. Gronkowski drew a defense pass interference on a slant route but was otherwise not a threat in the offense. Gronkowski will look to rebound next week against the Jets.