Fantasy Football Week 11: Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills
One of the long-standing traditions of the NFL is that every Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions and a random opponent are called upon to cram a week's worth of planning into three short days so they can suit up and play on Thanksgiving Thursday.
My guess is that the players and coaches are mixed on whether they like it or not, but it certainly spices up the week for the majority of fans—especially those who play fantasy football.
Not every owner will have a player from the game on their team, but there are usually a few fantasy-relevant players that might be going against you, so every game is worth reading up on.
With that in mind, here is the analysis of each of those players and what they might do for (or against) your fantasy team during this Thanksgiving Day game.
Quarterback: Miami Dolphins
Tannehill definitely looks like a guy who can be a starting quarterback in this league for years to come, but it will take awhile before any sort of consistency is there, especially being on a team in transition like the Dolphins are.
In Week 9, Ryan had a pretty nice game throwing for 290 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions while almost upsetting the Indianapolis Colts in their own place.
However, what took place this last weekend at home against a bottom-tier Tennessee Titans defense (217 yards, no TDs and three INTs) goes to show that you really can’t trust a rookie QB no matter what the circumstances are.
The Bills have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs this season and given up three times as many TDs as they have interceptions (fourth-worst percentage in the league), so this may very well LOOK like a matchup Tannehill could excel in.
However, the Bills are also the worst in defending the run, so I expect Miami to try and dominate this game on the ground and take the onus off their rookie QB’s shoulders.
If you have nobody else on your fantasy squad worth playing, Tannehill could be plugged in there as a starter as he’s actually put up low-end starter-type numbers every other week of the season thus far (last week was his “off-week”).
Quarterback: Buffalo Bills
Last week, I decided to put my credibility on the line and list Ryan Fitzpatrick in my top-10 quarterbacks for the week (eighth, to be precise).
Thank goodness for small miracles because as it turned out, the Harvard grad not only ended up in the top-10, but was within 0.04 fantasy points of landing in the exact spot I had him ranked.
Fitz has another nice fantasy matchup this week and should do pretty well against a weak Miami secondary, but with so many other better QBs having solid matchups themselves, I can’t see top-10 numbers for a second game in a row.
The Dolphins have allowed the fifth-most passing yards per game this year and are only mediocre in regards INTs, so there’s really no reason for Fitz to have a poor game here.
If my normal starting QB was on a bye or dealing with a concussion, I would have no problem turning to Fitzpatrick as my starter for the week.
However, there are plenty of QBs out there I would get in my lineup first (like 13 of them—see my rankings for the week) before taking the chance.
Running Backs: Miami Dolphins
After fumbling in the first quarter against Tennessee last weekend, the Miami coaches pulled Reggie Bush from the game and didn’t give him another carry until the second half. When asked about it after the game, Bush fully complied with the coaches’ decision saying it was the right call to make.
From a PR standpoint, of course, Bush did well to stand behind the call.
From a fantasy owner and general competitor’s standpoint, I’d have to say that his willy-nilly acceptance of the benching is at the very least discouraging about his fantasy outlook for the rest of the season.
It’s unfortunate too, because the Dolphins backfield has one of the better matchups of the week going up against a weak Buffalo run defense.
We’ll see how things shake out during the Dolphins short week of practice, but I can’t see a whole hell of a lot changing as it will likely come down to another timeshare out of the backfield with Bush and Daniel Thomas splitting carries.
Reggie’s explosiveness gives him the edge over Thomas if you’re looking for big fantasy numbers this Thursday, but with Thomas being the goal-line back, there’s no guarantee Bush sniffs top-10 numbers regardless of the choice fantasy matchup.
Thomas has been coming off the bench all year long and will likely continue to do so, but he’s definitely upped the ante of late—especially after his fine performance in relief of the benched Reggie Bush last weekend against the Titans.
It wasn’t a life-changing performance by any means, but he did have 10 touches (to Bush’s five) which included an unexpected five receptions out of the backfield.
Timeshare or not, his work as the goal-line back for the Dolphins could be the deciding factor that makes Thomas the better fantasy play this week than Bush.
The Bills run defense just might be the worst in the NFL as they find themselves at the bottom of the league in a number of different categories; yards per carry (5.5), rushing touchdowns allowed (16 total; 14 to RBs), rushing yards allowed and the most important of them all, most fantasy points allowed to RBs.
If Thomas can get himself 15 touches over the course of this game, which I believe he will, then he could easily come out with low-end RB2 stats this week.
He’s still a risk, however, as Bush could just as easily return to the lineup with a chip on his shoulder and take over the game against this porous Bills D.
Miller will be a dynamic part of this offense for years to come, but he won’t get much play this season as long as the Dolphins continue to stay afloat in the AFC playoff hunt.
The Dolphins fourth-round steal is hardly even worth starting as a flex in 16-man leagues right now.
Buffalo Bills: Running Backs
Even though he’s been given double-digit carries in only four of his nine games while never securing more than 18 touches in any one game, C.J. Spiller has still found a way to put up the seventh-most fantasy points per game for running backs this season.
His 7.3 yards per carry is the highest YPC in the league and despite only running the ball 87 times this year, his seven runs of 20 or more yards has him tied for second in that category as well (AP has 13 in 195 carries; McCoy has 7 in 162 carries).
Basically, Spiller is not only the most under-utilized threat in the entire league, but possibly the most misused player since the turn of the century!
C.J. Spiller fantasy owners can finally dismantle the lynch mob and stop looking for Chan Gailey’s address as the Buffalo Bills coaching lunacy will all come to an end this Thursday night.
With Fred Jackson already ruled out for the game, fantasy owners can safely pencil their savior-in-waiting into their RB1 spot for the week.
Yes, the Miami Dolphins rush D has been one of the better ones so far this season, but if Chris Johnson can tear them up for 126 yards and a touchdown like he did last week IN Miami, then you have to believe that Spiller can do the same at home.
Fred Jackson left last week’s game in the fourth quarter after being hit in the head while being tackled and has since been diagnosed with a concussion.
Coach Chan Gailey has already ruled Jackson out for their Thursday matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Jackson was putting up his best numbers of the year prior to the injury, but it was only the third time in seven games that he was able to manage double-digit fantasy points this season.
Obviously you need to keep him rostered, but don’t expect much from F-Jax for the remainder of the year if C.J. Spiller shows his dominance this Thursday, as he’s expected to.
Choice will be elevated to backup status this week due to the concussion suffered by Fred Jackson, so he might actually be worth picking up and stashing in case of a Spiller injury
He’ll probably get somewhere between five and ten touches this week just to give Spiller a breather from time to time, but is really only a desperation play in the deepest of leagues as he doesn’t have the explosiveness necessary to do any sort of damage against this Miami front seven.
Wide Receivers: Miami Dolphins
When playing within a specific advantageous situation, Brian Hartline has certainly done well enough to be considered a starter on many fantasy teams this season.
However, he really does need it to be a favorable matchup as he’s put up three games with double-digit fantasy points this season, but all three pass defenses are ranked in the lower half of the league.
Luckily, for Hartline fantasy owners this week, the Bills are one of the worst in the league in pretty much every defensive category.
Brian has proven to be a target-monster so far this season, so you know he’ll be getting his chances in this one.
You could start him as a very low-end WR2 in this one, but his upside is capped by an apparent allergy to the type of grass opposing teams use in the endzone.
Still, you just never know because as it stands today, of his six career touchdowns (in 53 games!!!), two happened to come against this same Buffalo Bills squad.
Never mind that they were both during his rookie 2009 season.
Davone Bess is a really good example of a slot receiver that is much more useful to his real team than he is for your fantasy team.
Even in PPR leagues he’s been a little weak this season barely cracking the top-50 in fantasy points per game.
He has three 100-yard games and 11 touchdowns in 73 career games with only one of those touchdowns coming against the Bills.
The Bills may give up a lot in the passing game, but I’m not so sure you can use Bess as any more than a low-end flex player with very limited upside in this one.
Even though he’s only a couple of weeks away from turning 32 years old and has only played three games for the Dolphins this season, he can still look like the most talented wide receiver on the field at times.
That’s how weak the Miami WR corps is at this point.
Gaffney can still have his moments, but of his seven double-digit fantasy performances over the last two seasons, none of them came on the road.
Not like you were looking for an excuse to sit him if he somehow found his way onto your fantasy squad.
Wide Receivers: Buffalo Bills
Stevie J has more fantasy points this year than a few other big-name receivers like Andre Johnson, Steve Smith and Brandon Lloyd; but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s been having a good season now, does it.
After nine games, the Bills top wideout is currently on pace for 73 catches, 892 yards and seven touchdowns—numbers I’m guessing most fantasy owners would barely be happy with out of their WR3.
He still ranks in the top-15 in targets, however, so some sort of a breakout game could be on the horizon here.
The Dolphins pass D currently allows the third-most receptions, fifth-most receiving yards and seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, so there’s certainly a chance fantasy owners will see that big game happen this Thursday night.
That being said, just so there are no illusions here, let it be known that Stevie J hasn’t had a multi-TD game since Week 11 of 2010 and only has one 100-yard game in his last 31 contests.
He’s definitely a starting fantasy player this week, but don’t expect any sort of miracle-game out of him.
In his last three games, Donald Jones has 16 catches on 24 targets for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
They may not be the greatest stats in the world, but his involvement in the offense is certainly on the rise seeing how Stevie Johnson has just 23 targets, 14 catches, the same 186 yards and only one TD during the same span.
There are a couple of reasons why this could be a nice game to get Jones in there as a flex this week.
First, with C.J. Spiller getting the start, the Dolphins’ linebackers will undoubtedly be busy running from sideline to sideline trying to contain the speedy RB. Because of this, Donald will have a little more room to maneuver when going over the middle, a route he has no problem running in this offense.
Second, Miami’s safeties will also be relatively occupied both with pinching in to contain Spiller and bracket-covering Stevie Johnson.
Basically, with as bad as the Miami pass D already is, it looks like there could be some fantasy points to be had out there for players other than Spiller and Johnson.
T.J. Graham is a speedy little sucker that may someday be able to make a mark in this league, but he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to do so just yet.
The Bills, however, moved up in the third-round to grab him in this past year’s draft, so if they’re feeling like their playoff hopes are all but shot at this point, that chance may come for Graham sooner than people think.
Like I said with Donald Jones, there are definitely going to be some fantasy points out there to be had by someone other than C.J. Spiller and Stevie Johnson, so if Graham gets a decent amount of snaps, he may be able to capitalize.
That being said, I wouldn’t go taking that chance unless I was in a deep 16-man league with a couple of players on a bye.
Tight End: Miami Dolphins
The Buffalo Bills have given up two 100-yard games to tight ends this season and three touchdowns in the last two weeks combined.
They haven’t been horrific all season long, but they do allow the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing TEs, so there is definitely an opening for Fasano to do a little damage.
Though he only had four receptions in two games against the Bills last season, Fasano actually scored a touchdown in each game so it seems he just might have their number.
He’s a long-shot, but if you’re desperate, you could do worse.
Tight End: Buffalo Bills
Chandler averages just three catches for 38.9 yards a game, numbers that would rank him down near the bottom of the league for tight ends.
However, when you start the Bills 6’7” tight end on your fantasy team, it’s not for the yardage; you’re doing so with the hopes that for just one week, his major fantasy strength somehow comes through for you in your time of need—his red-zone ability.
Unfortunately for Chandler, if the Dolphins have a single strength in their fantasy pass defense this year, it’s keeping tight ends out of the endzone.
Last week, Jared Cook used his only catch of the game to score the first tight end touchdown against the Dolphins this season.
You should probably look elsewhere for a fill-in TE this week.
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