THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL DRAFTKINGS PICKS
The 2022 NFL regular season begins on Thursday with a premier matchup as the Buffalo Bills travel west to the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Los Angeles Rams. Thursday night football games can often be cagey affairs, but it is hard to see that here with two high-power pass-happy offences. The bookies would agree, too, with this game opening up with an over/under total of 52.
Buffalo has opened up as the favourite in this game, and it’s to see why with the lethal combination of quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The defence also upgraded this off-season by acquiring former Rams edge rusher Von Miller.
The Ram’s wide receiver room has had somewhat of an overhaul this off-season with Robert Woods heading to Tennessee and Odell Beckham JR remaining a free agent after getting injured in the Superbowl. The Superbowl champions did, however, keep the excellent Cooper Kupp and arguably got an upgrade at wide receiver 2 in former Bears receiver Allen Robinson. With quarterback Matthew Stafford having one of the best seasons of his career last year, the Bills certainly won’t have this all their own way here.
NFL showdown contests are where I did most of my damage last season, and I’m hoping for the same results again this year starting Thursday. With such a limited player pool, it is worth looking at projected ownership to gain leverage on the field.
Showdown contests are pretty easy to understand. Simply pick six players within a $50,000 budget. Each showdown lineup will feature a captain pick who will cost 1.5 more than the original price but will get his points multiplied by 1.5.
With all that out of the way, let’s look at my player pool, shall we?
JOSH ALLEN $12,000 – The number one fantasy quarterback in season-long leagues for the last two years. I don’t need to say much here; he is dominant, offering points with his arm and rushing ability. This is a tough matchup on paper, but in 12 games with a points total of over 50 points, Allen has averaged 27.7 DraftKings points. If you’re going with a Bills win here, you must start with Josh Allen.
STEFON DIGGS $9,000 – Despite the Rams having Jalen Ramsey, they were suspect to opposing wide receiver ones in 2021, allowing the 23rd most DraftKings points of the year. Diggs had a disappointing year compared to his first year in Buffalo last year, but he remains the top target on this team. In fact, he still led all NFL players in red zone targets and is a solid stacking option if you are rolling with Allen here.
GABRIEL DAVIS $7,200 – Davis is now a locked-in full-time player in this Bills offence after the team decided to move on from veterans Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders. While the Rams did not surrender much in the way of big splash plays in 2021, Davis’s new role should see him offer somewhat of a safe floor with massive high floor upside.
DAWSON KNOX $6,800 – It is touchdown or bust with Knox in his NFL career to date has found the end zone 13 times from 26 games. The Rams only allowed the 5th most touchdowns to tight ends in 2021, so this matchup is not kind but with Allen consistently looking for Knox when the Bills get into the RedZone and the over/under on this game, he has to be in my player pool.
ISAIAH MCKENZIE $2,400 – McKenzie has gotten over that little injury scare and locked up the third receiver job in this offence. McKenzie looks set to do most of his damage out of the slot, a position to which the Rams defence only allowed the 9th most yards in 2021. It’s not a flashy play, but it lets you get a piece of the Bill’s offence at a low price. McKenzie is currently projected for high ownership.
Los Angeles Rams
MATTHEW STAFFORD $10,800 – I am a little worried about Stafford’s health regarding his elbow injury. McVay did come out earlier in the week stating that Stafford would be ready to play without limitations, so that’s good enough for me. This is a tough matchup on paper for Stafford, but with Tre’Davious White starting on the PUP list, the Bills will rotate at the cornerback position. This rotation and the high game total should create a robust fantasy environment for Stafford.
COOPER KUPP $12,400 – I’m still amazed at what Cooper Kupp did last season, and I cannot see it slowing down here. On paper, it’s a tough matchup, but it’s Cooper Kupp! In 2021 he did not see fewer than five targets per game, and no team has slowed him down in a full calendar year. Like Allen for the Bills, just play him.
ALLEN ROBINSON $6,200 – Robinson will be thankful for this move and a chance to play with the best quarterback he has ever played with. On paper, this is not a great matchup for Robinson, but no team had more air yards than the Rams in 2021, and the veteran receiver offers that big splash ability that can break any slate.
TYLER HIGBEE $5,600 – Higbee received nine end zone targets last year, which was fifth amongst all tight ends. Given the state of Ram’s current wide receiver room, outside of Kupp and Robinson and with the Bills giving up the 13th most receiving yards to tight ends in 2021, Higbee could be an excellent value option on this slate.
DARRELL HENDERSON $4,800 – Both Rams running backs have been dealing with soft tissue injuries during the off-season and look set to be in an early season timeshare. I prefer Henderson here, though, because of the salary relief he offers and the fact he should see the passing-down work. This trend in the Ram’s offence was evident in the Super Bowl, with Henderson running 15 pass routes on 22 snaps compared to just three pass routes for Akers.
BEN SKOWRONEK $1,800 – McVay has been talking up Skowronek and Atwell during pre-season and even left them out of the Ram’s last pre-season game; this gives me optimism that Van Jefferson will be limited at best for this game. I prefer Skowronek to see more of the work in that receiver three spot purely on his size. For me, the 6ft 3- and 224-pounds receiver offers a safer floor than Atwell and has some good chemistry with Matthew Stafford.
With this game’s over/under total, I will not have any exposure to either defence. Both kickers are in play, with the game being inside a dome and no weather elements.
Thanks, and good luck. I will be back later in the week with a rundown of the Sunday main slate.
Jack Humphrey @JackHumphreyKM