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Bills vs Rams Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Dawson Knox, Devin Singletary, James Cook, Isaiah McKenzie

Cooper Kupp - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, Draft Targets

Football season is back! It's been 208 days since the Super Bowl and we start the season off with a barn burner. After an entire off-season drooling over Josh Allen's latest playoff performance, we get to see how he would have faired against the reigning Super Bowl Champions.

The table is set for an excellent start to the season. Despite falling two games short of the Super Bowl, the Bills have gained steam throughout the offseason. Heading into the season they are the favourites for the title at +600. Although impressive, what's with the disrespect to the Rams? Coming in at the fifth-best odds to win it all, they have double the Bills' odds at +1200. I can't imagine that sits well with the reigning champions and should fuel the fire for a great game.

For the third consecutive year, my name is Ellis Johnson and welcome to your Thursday Night Preview article. I will be writing this column all season, providing fantasy player analysis and game-betting picks. I want to thank RotoBaller for once again giving me this opportunity. I hope y'all are ready - cause football is back baby!

Featured Promo: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off and win big in 2022. Exclusive access to our Premium articles, 15 lineup tools, new Team Sync platform, Lineup Optimizer, Premium DFS tools and cheat sheets, and much more! Sign Up Now!

 

Buffalo Bills @ Los Angeles Rams - 8:20 pm ET 

Notable Injuries

 

Must-Starts for Fantasy Football Lineups

Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)

How could I not start this article with the player who recorded arguably the greatest receiving season of all time? Kupp was truly magnificent last year, and although Justin Jefferson has gained momentum to be the WR1 overall, Kupp is still the best receiver in fantasy. Thankfully for him, nothing really changed with this team. Outside of bringing in Allen Robinson and the health of the running backs, the recipe for success is still there. Buffalo does have a formidable defense, but Kupp will find a way to impress, once again, for fantasy.

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)

I don't think I remember a player getting this much love all off-season. Even compared to the historic seasons of Joe Burrow and Cooper Kupp, Allen is the darling of 2022. After back-to-back QB1 overall finishes, everything is ready for him to three-peat. If there is one coach and player combo that could potentially slow down the Josh Allen rocket ship, it might be Sean McVay and Aaron Donald. However, you start your stars, and Allen is certainly one of those.

Stefon Diggs (WR, BUF)

If you've been following my work this offseason, you might know I am a little colder on Diggs than the rest of the analysts. However, he is still a top-tier player on an amazing offense. This game has everything set up to be a high-scoring back and fourth matchup. In which case, Diggs is the go-to target for Allen and should have a very good fantasy day, despite Jalen Ramsey potentially covering him.

 

Solid Starts for Fantasy Football Lineups

Matthew Stafford (QB, LAR)

Despite finishing as the seventh-best QB in fantasy last year, Stafford was fairly underwhelming. To give him credit, his consistency was excellent on a weekly basis, however, he failed to deliver week-winning performances - only cracking 25 points twice. Plus, the elbow wear and tear is a little concerning for this season but should have no impact for Week 1. I'd start Stafford as a low-end QB1, in case he has to keep up with Josh Allen and company.

Allen Robinson and Gabriel Davis (WR, LAR and BUF)

I don't typically combine players from different teams in my analysis, but these two are very similar. Despite being at vastly different points of their careers, all the offseason buzz was been identical. Both of these players are staring down a breakout/comeback season in 2022.

There was no shortage of camp videos showcasing both of these players' elite talents and red zone efficiency. It is this efficiency that makes me like them both for Week 1. In a game that could easily become a shootout, both these players could play a large role early on in the game. I'd play them both as high-end flex options to start the season.

Dawson Knox (TE, BUF)

Touchdown or bust is Knox's fantasy motto. Which, given the current TE landscape, is not the worst when you're attached to Josh Allen. Last year Knox was the TE7 with nine touchdowns, however, finished 15th at the position in yards. If you managed to scoop him up in your drafts he is a fine play, but you really need to hope he finds pay dirt to pay off.

 

Flex Considerations for Fantasy Football Lineups

Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. (RB, LAR)

To me, these are the definition of high upside flex plays in Week 1. Despite both struggling with their own injuries this offseason, it has come out that this will be a split backfield. This is something that we've never seen with Sean McVay, so we have no idea what the exact split could be. We also know that the last time we saw Akers on the field he was struggling to average more than three yards per carry.

If possible, I would love to wait a week and see what each player's roles are in the offense before starting them. Especially in this matchup against what could be a tough Bills run defense. However, I understand not everyone will have that choice and will be banking on them as a flex play and hoping for either back to find pay dirt.

What may be surprising to some, is that I do not have a strong preference on who I would play if both are fully healthy. Logically, the answer should be Akers, but there hasn't been anything out of camp and preseason that moves the needle for me.

 

Consider Sitting for Fantasy Football Lineups

Tyler Higbee (TE, LAR)

It's probably not a surprise that the fourth Rams passing option finds himself as a "sit" this week. Last year was very disappointing for the veteran TE, which fits right in with his fantasy career. Despite entering the NFL with legal issues, Higbee was considered a promising prospect when drafted by the Rams.

However, outside of a five-game stretch in 2019, he has not found success in McVay's system. There are no signs of this changing in 2022, and I don't think he should be rostered in typical redraft formats.

Devin Singletary and James Cook (RB, BUF)

Much like my analysis of the Rams running backs, the Bills also scare me. The main difference is that the Bills also have Josh Allen vulturing touchdowns on the goalline. Out of camp, Singletary has been the clear lead back, however, Cook has dominated as a pass catcher.

Unfortunately, over the last four years, the Bills have been in the bottom seven in the league in targets to the RB. I'd start Singletary well before Cook, but I'd like to see them both in action before putting them in my lineup.

Van Jefferson (WR, LAR)

Currently Jefferson is supposed to be healthy for Week 1. If that is the case, I think he is being forgotten about as the deep threat option on one of the league's best passing offenses. We saw last year that Jefferson flashed big-play ability as was a fine three for this team. Now with Robinson in town, he is presumed the three in Week 1, even though he has a history with Stafford.

I have more confidence in the usage of Robinson, but I wouldn't be surprised if Jefferson springs a long touchdown and has a very nice fantasy day. My only concern is that it's his first game back from his knee surgery, making him more of a high-risk desperation flex.

Isaiah McKenzie (WR, BUF)

If you want to shoot for the moon, you found your guy. Despite the hype around him after he surpassed Jamieson Crowder for the Cole Beasley role, I don't think he is startable in regular redraft leagues. In the past, McKenzie has flashed impressive athletic ability when Allen looks his way.

His fantasy production has also closely followed the health of Cole Beasley. Now that Beasley is gone, this could mean McKenzie has fantasy value. However, I'd wait a week and scoop him up if he sees five or more targets in Week 1.

Rams DST and Bills DST

Despite these two teams having some of the best defenses in the league, it's a scary first week for both teams. If you drafted them early, then you might be stuck with them which isn't the worst. With playmakers on both sides of the ball, each team could collect enough sacks to have a productive day, however, this game's 52.5 over-under worries me.

 

Ellis’ Picks

Bills -2.5 (0-0), Under 52.5 (0-0)

Last season we gained some ground on the picks going over 500 in both categories. This year we start with two high-powered teams with high-flying defenses. It's always tough picking Week 1 games, and it's a matter of which side of the ball may come out a little flat.

With only a 2.5-point spread, I view this as similar to a pick'em, making it an easy choice. As for the over-under, 52.5 points seems inflated from all the Bills buzz this offseason. As a result, these picks seem pretty logical to me. Catch me next week when we have an absolute heater of a matchup. Chiefs vs. Chargers - I'll see you there!

Career record: Spread (22-14), Over/Under (21-15)



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