Miami Dolphins at Washington Commanders
- Spread: Dolphins -9.5
- Total: 50.5
- Dolphins implied points: 30
- Commanders implied points: 20.5
Tua Tagovailoa: Miami’s skill-position players and Tagovailoa’s accuracy (70% completion or better in consecutive games and seven times this season) elevate his floor to a usable level. A matchup against the second-worst defense on a per-pass basis doesn’t hurt, either.
That said, the downside can’t be overlooked, which is why Tagovailoa is a low-end QB1 for me. He hasn’t run for 10 yards in a game this season and has as many finishes as QB18 or worse as he does top 10 (four).
In Tua’s last four road games, his average finish is QB21. Some of that stat has to do with the defenses played, but the point remains.
I’m a little less optimistic on Tagovailoa than the industry seems to be, but he remains a starter for me in this spot. One more road stat to consider as we move forward …
Percent of passes that result in TDs this season:
- Home: 8.2% (2.3% intercepted)
- Road: 3.9% (2.9% intercepted)
Sam Howell: It seems that with each passing week, there are fewer things that we can count on. And yet, Sam Howell remains.
The man has posted five straight top-10 finishes. In fact, he’s accomplished that ranking in seven of his past eight games. It’s not always pretty, it’s rarely four clean quarters, but it’s essentially always there when all is said and done.
Howell threw 44 passes while you enjoyed your turkey dinner (forget turkey, by the way, hit me with all the sweet potatoes and stuffing) last week, the fifth straight game he reached that number (300+ passing yards in four of those games).
Over that stretch, he’s averaging 31.2 completions per game. If you need a marker for just how bananas that is, Tom Brady set the single-season completion record in 2021, averaging 28.5 per game that year.
My only concern here is that the Commanders use an offensive strategy that they’ve used in the past when overmatched with success: bleed clock. That’s not really playing to their strengths, but a shootout with the Dolphins isn’t exactly an option, either. That minor risk has Howell sitting at QB10 in my ranks, a spot that is still ahead of Jared Goff and Russell Wilson.
De’Von Achane: This nagging knee injury kept the explosive rookie out of Week 12’s win over the Jets. While his status is TBD for this week, my read is that he’ll play but not assume a feature role. With a 2.5-game lead in the AFC East, Miami has the luxury to be smart with Achane, and it’s not as if they lack depth at the position to help fill the void.
Should he clear all physical hurdles this week, Achane will rank behind Raheem Mostert for me, but he’ll still be a low-end RB2. I just laid out the case as to why he can be eased back into action, so if Miami elects to bring him back in any capacity, they’re confident that he can perform.
Keep an eye on this situation, but I’d tentatively plan on Flexing Achane this weekend.
Editor’s note: Achane is expected to play in Week 13.
Raheem Mostert: With Achane out and the game script working in his favor, Mostert handled 20 carries and scored twice in a tough matchup with the Jets on Black Friday. The veteran has strung together an impressive season that includes nine finishes as a fantasy starter and four top fives.
We have plenty of proof this season that Mostert deserves RB1 consideration should Achane sit this week. The complicated part comes when the rookie returns. We don’t really have a feel for how the touches will be distributed when everyone is healthy.
As mentioned, I’m labeling Mostert as the lead in this backfield for Week 13 no matter Achane’s status. That means if you roster him, you’re plugging Mostert into your starting lineup without much thought.
Brian Robinson: The scoring was never going to be sticky. That said, the versatility is proving to be much more stable than any of us thought coming into this season.
B-Rob has three straight games with a 14+ yard run and a 14+ yard catch, development that is critical in a game like this where Washington is a big underdog.
I don’t love the fact that Antonio Gibson out-snapped him last week (36-35), but the team clearly prioritizes getting Robinson the ball over Gibson. That’s enough to land him on my RB2 radar in a game where Washington is going to have to put points on the board.
Tyreek Hill: Cheetah has at least eight catches in five straight games and 10+ targets in six straight, making him an explosive play waiting to happen. The only thing that has been able to consistently slow Hill is the end zone (TD in six of his past seven), and with Washington owning the second-highest opponent aDOT, they don’t feel like the defense to slow his play for 2,000.
Jaylen Waddle: On his last day as a 23-year-old, Waddle recorded a season-high eight catches last week on eight targets. The volume is one thing, but the plus-efficiency is another (65.7% catch rate through 11 weeks), and that provides me with optimism moving forward.
Waddle’s showing against the Jets was his fourth top-20 performance of the season, and I have him adding to that total this week. That said, it would be irresponsible of me to not mention that he’s been held under 65 yards or cleared 110 in every game since the beginning of October.
Acknowledge the risk that comes with your decision to play him, but I’m taking Waddle’s current form and this matchup to the bank.
Terry McLaurin: I look at usage stats before anything when evaluating a box score, so McLaurin’s 11 targets last week (his fourth double-digit target effort of the season per the Week 13 Cheat Sheet) caught my eye. Of course, four catches for 50 yards is underwhelming.
So what do we trust — the opportunity count or the inefficiency?
Usually, I’d hone in on the targets for a talent like McLaurin and trust that the production will follow. That’s generally where I’m headed, but not with the confidence I would have had a month ago.
McLaurin has just three top-25 finishes this season and has been held under 55 receiving yards on seven occasions. The volume has largely been empty in terms of fantasy production, and with one touchdown since Week 3, he really doesn’t have many avenues if the efficiency continues to lag.
This is a good game script spot, and if he can avoid a full-time shadow, I’m hanging in there for one more week. If McLaurin struggles to provide top 30 numbers this week, we’ll need to reevaluate for the fantasy postseason. That’s seven days down the road. I’m playing the volume angle one more time and hoping it pays off in a catchup spot against the ‘Fins.
Jahan Dotson: We are trending towards Dotson being a reasonable Flex option, with the fantasy playoffs nearing. His profile is that of a boom/bust player, but with five catches or a touchdown in five of his past six games, there’s a floor here that I’m not sure any of us saw coming.
The weirdest part? The former Nittany Lion doesn’t have a 35-yard catch this season. The range of outcomes remains wide, which is preventing him from cracking my top 30 at the position. Nevertheless, he’s close and ranks in the Jayden Reed/Tyler Lockett range of risky options.
Curtis Samuel: By finishing as the WR21 in Week 12, Samuel’s name is back on the radar as a Flex option — I’m not interested.
The strong showing came on the heels of four straight finishes outside of the top 55. Samuel was targeted on 27.9% of his snaps last week (McLaurin was at 16.7% and Dotson 9.1%), an unsustainable rate. If you think that level of usage is here to stay, then we fundamentally see this situation differently, and I wish you the best of luck. I’m happy to oppose Samuel this week; he’s nowhere near my starting range of receivers.
Logan Thomas: It’s possible that Thomas had his Thanksgiving meal pre-game last week, as he certainly slept through the majority of the blowout loss in Dallas (two catches for 15 yards). He has failed to score in four straight games and has been held under 60 yards in seven straight.
His status as a non-blob tight end is tied to Washington’s pass-heavy rate, and that’s not going anywhere. I find myself landing on Thomas as a TE option on good teams on which I’m trying to Band-Aid the position. He’s not going to win you any weeks, but I do trust him as a top-12 option (barely) in a game where the script should work in his favor.
Should You Start Justin Herbert or Sam Howell?
I have them ranked back-to-back this week, and I’ll admit that Howell offers a considerably higher floor. That said, Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert is a significant favorite, while Howell is an underdog. Herbert has access to two playmakers (WR Keenan Allen and RB Austin Ekeler) that offer him more support than anything Howell has. I’m comfortable starting both this week, but if I have to pick one, give me Herbert.
Should You Start Rhamondre Stevenson or Brian Robinson?
Robinson’s volume is a bit of a question mark, given the wide-open nature of the Commanders offense — a concern I don’t have for RB Rhamondre Stevenson in New England. I’d rather bet on volume than a touchdown, and that leads me to rank Stevenson as a middling RB2, while Robinson is more of a Flex option.
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