The Read Option, Week 9: Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals


The Read-Option is Adam Pfeifer’s weekly fantasy football game-by-game breakdown, covering everything a fantasy manager needs to know before setting or building lineups for the week. Below, check out his breakdown of the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals game for Week 9.


Week 9 Fantasy Football Breakdown: Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals

CIN -3, O/U 48.5
Pace: BUF: 27.5 sec/snap (19th), CIN: 28.0 sec/snap (26th)

FTN Data Breakdown

  • The Bills went no-huddle 29.2% of the time in Week 8.
  • Khalil Shakir ran a route on a season-high 72% of dropbacks.
  • Buffalo is allowing 1.91 yards before contact per rush this season.
  • 14.7% of the runs against the Bills have gained 10-plus yards, the second-highest rate in the league.
  • 16.1% of the runs against the Bengals have gained 10-plus yards, the highest rate.


The QB1 in all of fantasy football, Josh Allen was great last Thursday, throwing for 324 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 41 rushing yards and an additional score on the ground. He now has a rushing score in consecutive games, as there has been more of an effort to utilize him in the designed run game. You are obviously starting him each week, regardless of matchup, though the Bengals pass defense has been strong this season. However, they are allowing a 73.6% completion rate, 10.87-yard aDOT and 14.4 yards per completion off play-action passes this season, which has been a major strength of Allen’s. He is completing just over 71% of his passes with seven touchdowns off play-action so far this season.

Joe Mixon Cincinnati Bengals

Running Back

While Buffalo continues to “start” Latavius Murray, James Cook is still getting 14-17 touches each week. And he actually played 66% of the snaps last week, his highest snap share in a game this season. The passing game usage has disappeared as of late, as Cook has just four targets over the past three weeks. Cook has been efficient all year and this is a good spot for him to keep it going. The weakness of this Bengals defense has been against the run, as they are allowing 2.60 yards before contact per attempt, the worst mark in the league. Meanwhile, 16.1% of the runs against the Bengals have gained 10-plus yards, the highest rate in football. You’d still like to see Cook get more opportunities from the goal line and with Buffalo adding Leonard Fournette, who knows if that happens. But as long as he gets 15-plus touches against this vulnerable run defense, he’ll produce as a solid RB2.

Wide Receiver

You are obviously starting Stefon Diggs, who even in a “bad game” last week, still gave you nine catches for 70 yards. Buffalo played more 11 personnel than they have all year with Dawson Knox sidelined, which led to more snaps from Khalil Shakir. The Bills finally spread the ball around, which is great for their offense. Of course, Diggs is still going to have double-digit targets more times than not, while his 33% target share and 29% target per route run rate are elite. He also has 26% of the team’s targets off play-action this season. 

Gabe Davis, meanwhile, had a rare game. Yes, he scored a touchdown again, but Davis was busy all night long, setting a career-high in receptions with nine, while his 12 targets were the second-most of his career. Davis continues to produce more against zone-heavy defenses, averaging an insane 2.8 fantasy points per target against zone coverage this year. He’s caught over 57% of his deep targets against zone and faces a Cincinnati defense that utilizes zone coverage nearly 70% of the time. Davis is a high-end, high-upside WR3. 

Finally, Khalil Shakir has emerged as Buffalo’s slot wide receiver. With the Bills mostly operating out of 11 personnel last week, Shakir ran a route on a season-high 72% of dropbacks against Tampa Bay, catching all six of his targets for 92 yards. The Bengals are allowing the 12th-most fantasy points per game to opposing pass-catchers lined up in the slot this season (12.3), so consider Shakir a viable flex play in deep PPR leagues.

Tight End

Finally, the Dalton Kincaid breakout is happening. In Week 7, Kincaid caught all eight of his targets for 75 yards. But last week, with Knox sidelined, Kincaid caught 5-of-7 targets for 65 yards and his first career touchdown. He ran a route on a season-high 85% of dropbacks while playing 84% of the snaps. Now he gets to face a Bengals team that is coughing up the most fantasy points (15.7), fifth-most receptions (5.9) and third-most receiving yards (63.9) per game to opposing tight ends on the season. Kincaid is a must-start tight end. 


Joe Burrow absolutely looks like Joe Burrow again, which is a frightening thought for opposing defenses. He destroyed San Francisco to the tune of 283 yards and three touchdowns last week, while adding 43 rushing yards, easily a season high. He looked fantastic and, most importantly, healthy. Burrow has returned to must-start status against a Bills defense that hasn’t been the same since all of the injuries. Since Week 4, Buffalo ranks 27th in EPA per dropback on defense and 26th in EPA per play. The Bills are still generating solid pressure, but Burrow proved last week that he can escape the pocket with the calf seemingly not an issue anymore. Start him with confidence.

Running Back

James Cook Buffalo Billsc

Joe Mixon is coming off a great game against a tough 49ers run defense, rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. The volume has been there all season long for Mixon, who has logged 74% of the snaps and handled 81% of Cincinnati’s rush attempts, while averaging a healthy 18.7 touches per game. He’s a top-12 running back for me against a vulnerable Buffalo run defense. We know this unit is boom/bust, as 14.7% of the runs against the Bills have gained 10-plus yards, the second-highest rate in the league. They are also allowing 1.91 yards before contact per rush this season, a bottom-three rate. 

Wide Receiver

Over his last three games, Ja’Marr Chase has been insane, catching 31-of-44 targets for 372 yards and four touchdowns. He has double-digit targets in four of his last five games and while Buffalo did just add Rasul Douglas, no one in this secondary can slow Chase down, while opposing top wide receivers have found the end zone in each of the last two games against the Bills. Tee Higgins, meanwhile, had a solid day last week, catching five passes for 69 yards. He remains a low-end WR2, while Tyler Boyd is a low-end WR3 against a Bills defense that is allowing 12.4 fantasy points per game to opposing slot wideouts (11th most).

Tight End

I will not be starting a tight end from the Cincinnati Bengals in fantasy football.

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