Gabriel Davis: Smart Pickup Heading Into Week 13 (2020 Fantasy Football)
The Buffalo Bills sent John Brown to injured reserve before their Week 13 game against the Chargers, so Brown can’t play again until at least Week 15. Buffalo will turn to rookie Gabriel Davis to play Brown’s role on the perimeter, and with Josh Allen slinging him the football, he deserves to be on your fantasy radar.
Davis just caught three-of-four targets for 79 yards and a score against Los Angeles (15.4 half-PPR points), and he’s likely to have a similar role until Brown returns. In games that the veteran either missed or got forced out of, Davis played like a decent fantasy option — he averaged 7.3 half-PPR points per game, including two games with 10-plus points.
Davis may not win you your league, but he makes a solid pickup as a WR4/FLEX.
Davis is a fourth-round rookie out of the University of Central Florida. At 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, Davis is a bigger receiver than Brown, who stands at 5-foot-10 and weighs in at 180 pounds. Brown has the better 40-yard dash time (4.34 seconds), but Davis has the better speed score, and he ranks in the 77th percentile among receivers.
Both Brown and Davis can burn opponents on the perimeter, although Davis can do it with both his legs and his size.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 29, 2020
Davis’ college usage points to his value as a deep-threat receiver. He posted an impressive 17.2 yards per reception in his senior season, better than what some highly-touted prospects managed to do, including Jerry Jeudy (15.1), Justin Jefferson (13.9), and Laviska Shenault (13.6). He also hauled in 12 touchdowns on just 72 catches (16.7%); through 11 professional games, he’s caught four scores on 22 catches (18.1%).
State of the Offense
Brown ranks third on the Bills in targets with 48, good for a 12.6% team share, even though he’s played in three fewer games than his teammates. Davis may only have 35 targets (9.2%) so far, but he sees considerably more usage when Brown is out of the offense.
Gabriel Davis with John Brown (ankle, IR) out yesterday:
* 60-of-61 snaps
* 14 of them slot
* 4 targets for a 16% share
* Josh Allen only threw 24 times, came into game averaging 36.4 attempts per game
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) November 30, 2020
In the games that Brown has missed or left early, Davis has played on roughly 87.8% of the offensive snaps. But Davis’ usage is trending up, too — he played on around 97.7% of the snaps in his two most recent games without Brown.
This development likely comes as no surprise to Brown, who offered Davis some strong praise back in August.
“Those two rookies (Davis and Isaiah Hodgins), they’re the two best that I’ve seen so far since I’ve been in the league,” Brown said, “those guys know the playbook better than any of the veterans right now.” Davis has impressed more than just Brown, as Sean McDermott also praised Davis’ intelligence and grit.
The Bills don’t have the best rest-of-season schedule. They’ll play the 49ers (Week 13), Steelers (Week 14), Broncos (Week 15), and Patriots (Week 16) to wind down the year, and three of those teams have top-12 defenses against opposing wideouts. Surprisingly, the Steelers have been the most vulnerable of those units to the position, as they rank only 16th.
That said, these defenses have been vulnerable to the occasional big play. The Patriots give up a league-high explosive pass rate (11%), while the 49ers, Steelers, and Broncos are all tied for 11th (8%).
With Brown’s absence not guaranteed after Week 14, you should view Davis as a two-week asset. He’ll play almost every down against the 49ers and Steelers, but those teams rank in the top-10 in time of possession, so his higher snap percentage may not translate into as many opportunities as you would hope.
I would pick up Davis and consider starting him as a WR4/FLEX over the next two weeks. He may have some longer-term upside if Brown continues to miss time, too, but I wouldn’t bank on that happening.
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