Fantasy football players seem to get smarter every year. The leagues get deeper. The competition gets better. That's partially because of the sheer amount of information available to fantasy geeks willing to put the time in.
Still, it's not always easy to find sound fantasy advice on players making up the back ends of fantasy depth charts. That's where we'll try to help fill in the gaps by providing you with information we've gleaned by being on the Patriots beat.
MARQUEE MATCHUP: DEVIN SINGLETARY VS. PATRIOTS DEFENSE
The Patriots defense had themselves a day back in Week 4 when they made a visit to Buffalo. They picked off four passes. They sacked the Bills five times. They allowed just 4.9 yards per drop back. They limited Josh Allen (and later Matt Barkley) to just 3-for-15 on third and fourth-down conversion attempts. Buffalo left New Era Field with only a 10 on the scoreboard. But the running game...That Bills running game racked up 6.1 yards per carry that day. And they were without their best back.
That's rookie 5-foot-7 dynamo Devin Singletary, who was injured in late September but has been one of the league's toughest backs to tackle since Week 9. According to Pro Football Focus, only fellow rookie Josh Jacobs back has forced more missed tackles (35) than Singletary (29) since then. Singletary's 343 yards after contact since Week 9 are seventh-most in the NFL. He's ninth in yards per carry in that time at 4.8.
If the Bills are going to create any forward momentum against the Patriots and their stellar pass defense, one would assume that'll be on the ground, where the Patriots rank in the middle of the pack, allowing 4.3 yards per carry. He's a three-down back who has a little Dion Lewis circa 2015 to his game, and he could give the Patriots -- a team that's given up their share of big gains when tackles have been missed -- all they can handle on the ground. He feels like a safe RB2 if he's on your roster going into the final week of fantasy re-draft league play.
SONY MICHEL: We know Tom Brady's numbers against the Bills since Sean McDermott's arrival as coach prior to the start of the 2017 season. He's averaging just over 216 yards passing per game in his five matchups with McDermott's Bills. He has three touchdowns and five interceptions in those meetings.
Things don't seem to be getting much better any time soon. This Bills defense is that good. They make it hard to throw to backs with athletic linebackers. And while they might not confuse Brady all that often, they'll confuse Brady's weapons by disguising coverages and changing looks right at the snap. The answer? Run it. Or try to, at least.
The Bills rank right behind the Patriots, allowing 4.4 yards per carry this year. Michel had 89 carries on 19 carries last week in Cincy, and you can bet that the Patriots will want to continue to pound the rock at this point in the season, shortening games, allowing their defense and special teams to make the game-changing plays. I like Michel as an RB2 this week.
COLE BEASLEY: Typically it's not a great idea to point to any receiver about to face the Patriots and say, "Like the matchup!" But this is a unique scenario.
The Patriots will be without their slot corner Jonathan Jones in this one. That matters. The options the Patriots have as fill-ins in Jones' absence are Jason McCourty (questionable with a groin injury), Patrick Chung...and maybe Devin McCourty, who has become a Swiss Army knife-type for this defense.
In any case, Beasley could be in line for a heavy workload. He caught seven passes for 75 yards against the Patriots when Jones was in the lineup back in Week 4. Even after a brutal 2-point performance last week against the Steelers, I like Beasley as a low-cost daily play or a FLEX option on re-draft leagues.
TOM BRADY: See: Michel, Sony.
JULIAN EDELMAN: Edelman practiced this week. And he's coming off a game where he avoided taking as many shots as he usually does, catching just two passes against the Bengals. But he clearly looked off in that game and he didn't look right early in practice this week. I don't doubt that he'll be in uniform. I do doubt that his health combined with this matchup will yield much in the way of fantasy points. You're going to want to sit every Patriots receiver this week, including Mohamed Sanu, N'Keal Harry and Phillip Dorsett.
JAMES WHITE: Bills linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are good athletes. Edmunds is a long and smooth athlete who was drafted No. 16 overall in 2018. Milano has graded out as the sixth-best coverage linebacker in football this year. White had eight catches on 10 targets the last time these two teams met, and I imagine the Patriots will try to create chunk gains in the passing game with screens, but I wouldn't depend on much from one of New England's most dependable players this week. He's a FLEX option if you're desperate in PPR formats. Rex Burkhead is another Patriots back you'll want to avoid this week. He may score -- as he did last week, answering any fantasy Hail Marys last week -- but you can't count on that happening again this week.
JOHN BROWN: Josh Allen's deep threat lives off the long ball. He's averaging a whopping 9.1 yards per target this season and 14.2 yards per catch. But the Patriots are one of the best teams in football when it comes to limiting explosive pass plays. They're fourth in that category, per Sharp Football Stats, allowing just 32 explosive pass plays this season for 507 yards.