Should You Start Gabe Davis vs. the Lions? Fantasy Outlook for Bills Wide Receiver

What is Gabe Davis' fantasy outlook for Week 12, and should managers start him as the Buffalo Bills face the Detroit Lions to kick off Thanksgiving?

If you drafted Gabe Davis in your fantasy football team this year, the Buffalo Bills WR has likely been a frustrating player for you. Davis’ third season has been something of a fantasy rollercoaster, so let’s examine whether he should be a starting consideration for managers this week.

Is Davis primed for a monster game to kick off Thanksgiving, or could he be leaving fantasy managers regretting their decision when the Bills face the Detroit Lions in the early kickoff?

Gabe Davis’ Fantasy Outlook for Week 12

Overall this season, Davis is producing the best fantasy output of his career. He is averaging 11.7 fantasy points per game as the WR19. But the way the results have been delivered has better suited Underdog Fantasy Best Ball leagues than season-long fantasy leagues.

In his nine games this year, Davis has scored double-digit fantasy points in four games, including a 30.6-point performance in Week 5. However, we have also seen four games with 5.2 fantasy points or lower and one game where he was a fringe 12-team starting option (9.3 fantasy points in Week 11).

That very much sums up what has been a promising but frustrating season for the Bills WR. He is averaging 6.11 targets per game, an increase of more than two targets per game compared to the past two years. His 52.7% catch rate — the lowest of his career — has ensured his receptions per game are only up around one per game. Part of that has come from a 10.9% drop rate — another career-high.

MORE: Week 12 Rest-of-Season Rankings

However, the way the Bills are using Davis has meant there is always the potential for big weeks. His average depth of target is 16.2 yards, which is the highest of his career. That has resulted in 16.8 yards before the catch on average, which, when combined with 4.3 yards after the catch per reception, has led to a league-leading 21.1 yards per reception this season.

There is plenty of potential in this matchup for Davis. The Bills allowed 44.6 fantasy points to the New York Giants WRs. The Giants have been one of the worst teams this year in terms of WR production, so the success they had is notable. The Lions are set to be without Jeff Okudah at CB this week, who was also missing last week, so that is a considerable absence.

The Lions’ defense is a weird one against opposing WRs. In two of the last four, they have allowed over 40 fantasy points to the position. They have also allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to WRs overall this season.

However, in two of the last five games, they held opposing WRs under 15 fantasy points. One of those was against the Chicago Bears, and the other against the Dallas Cowboys in Dak Prescott’s first game back from injury, presenting mitigating factors.

Should Fantasy Managers Start Davis in Week 12?

How you approach Davis on your roster is likely reflective of your philosophy around fantasy football. His boom-bust nature means you either have to make the call to start him regardless and hope for the best. Alternatively, you view him as a bye-week and injury fill-in that you take your chances with when you need him.

The positive aspect of Davis’ fantasy value is that we have seen him with 17 targets in the past two weeks. That is the highest two-game span in terms of usage of the season so far.

The previous high was 13 targets between Weeks 6 and 8. It is also extremely positive to see that Davis’ catch rate has been 60% or more in each of the past two weeks, two of the three highest catch rates of the season.

MORE: Should You Start Devin Singletary on Thanksgiving?

The problem has really been consistency for him this year, so if the usage is up and the catch rate is improving, that will hopefully result in further consistency going forward.

With the matchup against the Lions this week, there is an opportunity for fantasy managers to be bold here. Starting Davis on the first Thanksgiving game and the first game of the week could set your fantasy team up pretty nicely in Week 12.

In Tommy Garrett’s Week 12 WR fantasy rankings, he has Davis as the WR17, so he is a relatively solid starting option in most 12-team leagues. There is a lot to like about this matchup, with the Bills playing indoors and at the same stadium for the second game in a row.

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