Both of these AFC East teams impressed last week, the ‘Fins just did so in a much more fantasy football-friendly fashion. The New England Patriots’ fantasy outlook is one of sustainability after a high-volume Week 1, while the Miami Dolphins’ fantasy preview is a matter of gauging expectations after the explosive win over the Chargers.
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Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
- Spread Dolphins -3
- Total: 47
- Dolphins implied points: 25
- Patriots implied points: 22
Tua Tagovailoa: Will Tagovailoa flirt with 8,000 passing yards this season? That is the question — well, maybe only in Dolphins’ fan circles. The Alabama product left Week 1 as the new MVP favorite, and it would be hard to argue that evaluation after a 466-yard, three-TD performance against the Chargers.
How did he rack up those numbers? Well, directing 53.6% of your targets in the direction of Tyreek Hill and Waddle was a good start. Both of his star receivers had a 35-yard reception and looked unguardable throughout the game.
You’re playing him – my QB8 – this week, but I don’t hate the idea of selling high. The health concerns remain, the mobility is limited at best, and the fantasy playoff schedule is brutal due to matchups with the Jets, Cowboys, and Ravens.
Mac Jones: Yes, technically, this game features the top-scoring quarterbacks from Week 1, so that’s a thing. Jones was great in a losing effort against the Eagles last week with 316 yards and three touchdowns, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Excuse me if I don’t think 46.3% of targets going to WR Kendrick Bourne, RB Ezekiel Elliott, and WR Demario Douglas is a sustainable way to make a fantasy living. Look for New England, much like the Chargers last week, to try to control this game on the ground. Jones shouldn’t be on rosters in normal-sized leagues, and he surely shouldn’t be starting for you if you made the error in adding him.
Raheem Mostert: Having the lead role in an explosive offense is only great if the team elects to use their backfield. Mostert dominated RB touches last week, and yet, he barely had more rushing yards than the Dolphins had points.
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Tagovailoa was active when these teams met in Week 1 last season, a game where Miami running backs totaled just 43 yards on the ground to go along with 64 yards through the air. Of that total, Mostert gained 16 yards on five carries. For me, Mostert is a slightly safer version of Kenneth Gainwell – the lead back in a potent offense with only so much touch upside.
I have Mostert ranked as a low-end RB2 that I feel comfortable starting.
De’Von Achane: The rookie missed Week 1’s win in Los Angeles with a shoulder injury that he picked up during the preseason. With Jeff Wilson on IR and Raheem Mostert far from a beacon of health, Achane should remain stashed in all fantasy football leagues, but you shouldn’t expect to plug him into your starting lineup any time soon.
Rhamondre Stevenson: The running back’s Week 1 was a complete dud before a late 32-yard catch saved his day. Remove that big play, and we’re looking at a 17-touch, 57-yard performance – a true dud performance, given what he cost you on draft day.
Rhamondre Stevenson spin cycle and tumble dry. pic.twitter.com/39IhtqPbIQ
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 10, 2023
The involvement of Ezekiel Elliott is a concern. I thought he would simply be used as a plodder near the goal line, but with seven targets, he was used as a complimentary weapon more than a backup. I’m already interested in getting out of the Stevenson business if I can, and if ‘Zeke maintains the role he had last week this week, I’ll be in full-on sell mode.
Stevenson was the breakout star of 2022, and in a season where everything was going right, he ran for just 67 yards and turned six targets into 11 yards against Miami – in two games. He’s my RB15 this week, and I fear I may be too high. Tread lightly and run for the hills if this week looks anything like his season debut.
Ezekiel Elliott: The only way Zeke works his way into even a rosterable status is for this offense to overachieve. While “Hey, they scored 20 points and totaled nearly 400 yards against the reigning NFC champions in Week 1” is factually correct, let’s not act as if it was some display of offensive greatness. They looked good for five minutes at the end of the first half and largely struggled otherwise.
Elliott was more involved than I assumed he would be, but he certainly wasn’t more efficient, as his 14 opportunities netted just 43 yards. Oh yeah — he lost a fumble. I’m not 100% convinced he needs to be on fantasy football rosters, let alone anywhere near your starting lineup. Elliott’s contribution to our game is simple — he could drain some value from Stevenson.
Tyreek Hill: So maybe the 2,000-yard goal isn’t that crazy after all. Hill left Week 1 as the betting favorite to be the Offensive Player of the Year, and it makes sense. When you combine an elite target share with an elite skill set, special seasons happen, and that seems to be what we have in Miami.
In the one game Tagovailoa played against the Pats last season, 38.7% of his targets went to Hill, an even higher rate than what we saw last weekend (34.1%). The upside in each one of the targets is unmatched (he had 52 more air yards than anyone else last week), and that lands Hill atop my Week 2 WR rankings.
Jaylen Waddle: With all of the excitement around Hill, let’s not lose track of just how good Waddle is. He averaged 15.6 yards per target in Week 1, an elite rate that wasn’t mentioned once in the analysis of Miami’s Week 1 win.
In that Week 1 meeting with New England last season, Waddle had the big play: a 42-yard TD that saw him wiggle between three Patriots defenders in the middle of the field and take a 10-yard pass to the house. That sort of upside is why he is a WR1 for me this week, giving me two sets of teammates in my top 10 at the position this week (also: Eagles).
JuJu Smith-Schuster: In what I believe will be Jones’ best game of the season, Smith-Schuster averaged a mere 4.7 yards per target and ranked sixth on the Patriots in receiving yards. He is still my pick to lead this team in targets when all is said and done, but he carries next to no upside and shouldn’t be considered a lock to remain on your roster for the entire season.
Kendrick Bourne: With DeVante Parker (knee) sidelined, Bourne stepped up and was fantasy’s fourth-best receiver for the week (21.4 points). He was a popular add to rosters this week, and there is a certain pressure that comes with adding a breakout performer like this after adding him, but that’d be a mistake (no matter Parker’s status).
I’ve made it clear how I feel about the sustainability of Jones’ aerial numbers, and with his regression comes the crashing back to earth for Bourne.
The 28-year-old already has more touchdown catches than he had a season ago and is almost halfway to setting a new career mark for a single season. I say that to highlight the idea that we have an extended sample size of Bourne being nothing more than an ordinary receiver in this league. You can chase the Week 1 points if you want; I won’t be. He’s not a top-50 receiver for me this week.
Hunter Henry: Even with Mike Gesicki battling through a preseason dislocated shoulder (three catches for 36 yards), Henry was able to earn six targets and make the most of them (56 yards and a touchdown). If you’re telling me I have to have one Patriots pass catcher on my roster, Henry is that guy, but he still falls just outside of my top 10 this week.
It was only two seasons ago when Henry caught nine touchdown passes, proof that he can get open near the goal line. That is a skill I target at the tight-end position. My concern is that New England doesn’t offer many opportunities in close. I tend to avoid TE committees in low-octane offenses if I can help it. Maybe that’s just a me thing.
Durham Smythe: The seven targets (44 yards) were interesting last weekend in the shootout with the Chargers, and the need for a third receiving option certainly exists in Miami. That said, let’s pump our brakes a bit here. This is Smythe’s sixth NFL season, and the next time he averages two targets per game for a season will be the first.
If this usage lasts through September, we can talk about him being a cheap way to get exposure to an elite offense in the same vein as Chiefs receivers, but until then, he doesn’t need to be rostered in anything but the deepest of redraft formats.
Who Should You Start in Week 2?
Should You Start Hunter Henry or Gerald Everett?
I was encouraged by the role Henry held in Week 1, but I’m not playing him over a tight end in a high-powered offense that figures to move the ball consistently through the air in this specific matchup. The Chargers went with a run-heavy gameplan against the Dolphins last week, but that script figures to flip against the leaky secondary of the Titans.
Should You Start Rhamondre Stevenson or Jahmyr Gibbs?
The PFN Consensus Rankings have Stevenson as the play here, and I disagree. I understand the floor that comes with the role of Stevenson, but I believe that Gibbs is going to see his touch rate spike sooner rather than later. My choice here comes down to one thing and one thing only: I think the Lions could score 30 points and I don’t think the Patriots make it to 20 points.
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