As redraft fantasy football seasons come to an end, some managers and leagues pivot to a condensed version encompassing the NFL playoffs. This format brings its own unique challenges and changes from what we are used to seeing during the NFL’s regular season. Others are competing in daily fantasy sports (DFS) competitions. How should managers handle Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, and Gabriel Davis in 2022 playoff fantasy football leagues and DFS?
The Bills, and fantasy managers, will only go as far as Stefon Diggs takes them
A day after Black Monday, Bills OC Brian Daboll is one of the hottest coaching candidates and has been linked to virtually every available job in the league. He’s credited with the development of Josh Allen. Does he deserve the praise? Absolutely, but so should Diggs. The splash trade the Bills pulled off to acquire Diggs has been instrumental to Allen’s success and his ascension to superstardom.
In Diggs’ two seasons with Allen (33 games), the veteran WR has 203 total receptions, 2,760 yards, 18 touchdowns, and back-to-back campaigns with 160+ targets. Diggs has averaged 18.6 PPR points per contest over the past two years. In 2021 alone, Diggs has finished as a WR2 or better in 10 games, including three of his last four. One of which was against the Patriots.
How to view Diggs in fantasy playoffs and DFS
If the Bills want to make a deep run in the playoffs, Diggs has to be a massive contributor. In fantasy, he should be one of the first WRs off the board. He ranks fourth in my playoff WR rankings.
It’s the perfect storm. An elite player in his prime, on a Super Bowl contender, that can play in the maximum three games should they make the AFC title game. There might be no one better in terms of dollar-for-dollar value.
Speaking of value, Diggs will be a top play in DFS, and that should come as no surprise. An Allen/Diggs stack will be one of the most popular combinations in the Wild Card round despite the Patriots being a difficult defense. At $7,200, Diggs is the No. 3 WR in terms of price. But he still has room to be a bargain based on what he and Allen can do together. It’s an expensive stack at $15,000 (30% of salary), but it very well could be the one to take down the tournament.
Even in an increased role, Gabriel Davis can be hit-or-miss for fantasy and DFS
With Emmanuel Sanders sidelined due to injury, Davis has been presented a significant opportunity in his second year. And while the volume has been there, the consistent production has not. Last week against the Jets, Davis recorded 14 targets but hauled in just 3 for 39 yards. He ended the day as the WR62 with 6.9 PPR points. His 6 touchdowns have boosted his floor, especially as of late, as he’s scored 4 times in his last five games.
Even his yards paint a similar picture, with 34% (190) of his receiving yards (549) coming in two games. The upside for Davis comes down to the health of Sanders. In the two games Davis played without Sanders this year, he averaged 15.25 PPR points. In 12 games with both Davis and Sanders active, the former put up only 7.29 ppg. Add in the bitterly cold weather and chances of high winds and precipitation in Buffalo, and Davis’ boom-or-bust fantasy status makes him a risky option.
Cole Beasley will be an option in PPR fantasy formats
Say what you want about Cole Beasley, but the guy is a target machine. His 112 targets in 2021 (16 games) were a new career-high. It also marked his third season in a row with 100+ targets, and he finished with exactly 82 receptions for the second straight year. However, Beasley’s production took a hit, as his yardage dropped from 967 to 693, and he scored just a single touchdown.
Part of that comes down to the types of targets Beasley received. In 2021, his average depth of target (aDOT) was just 5.4 yards, compared to 7.9 the year prior. For a guy who is not explosive and doesn’t create on his own after the catch (3.9 yards after catch/reception), Beasly gets what the QB gives him.
He also has taken a back seat in the red zone, recording 13 targets inside the 20-yard line (No. 4 among Bills pass catchers). Only 3 came inside the 5-yard line. On DFS platforms that use PPR scoring (such as DraftKings), Bealey will have some value. But given his role in Buffalo’s offense and his lack of explosive plays, he is not a recommended DFS play.
Can Emmanuel Sanders be a reliable fantasy WR in the playoffs?
One of the questions we had was who would step up and be the Bills No. 2 alongside Diggs for fantasy. Then they went out and signed Emmanuel Sanders, who, despite his age, had been playing solid football. Bouncing to three different teams, Sanders recorded over 725 receiving yards in seven of his last eight NFL seasons coming into 2021.
After a bit of an adjustment period, it seemed Sanders found his role on the Bills. From Weeks 3 through 6, Sanders averaged 78.3 yards and 4.5 receptions per game on 6.3 targets while finishing the end zone 4 times. He was the WR8 in PPR scoring over this period, averaging 18.5 points. Yet after the bye, Sanders has disappeared.
He laid a goose egg in their first game out of the bye (0 targets on 50), snaps, and proceeded to score 7.1 PPR points or less in six of his next seven games. Sanders also has been injured. He was forced out of their Week 14 game against Tampa Bay, and it has continued to bother him, keeping him out of Weeks 15, 17, and 18.
Sanders did record a full practice on Wednesday, which puts him on track to play against New England on Sunday. If active, not only for the Wild Card Round but for the playoffs, you can’t forget about Sanders for fantasy. Yet it seems some have as Sanders $4,000 price tag is the lowest of all Bills WRs. The case can be made for Sanders as a pivot play off Beasley or Davis, but this would only be a single lineup play for me, not one I base multiple around. Sanders can bring in 8 or 12 points and make it worth it, but similar to Beasley, the ceiling is capped.