We can make fairly quick work of the Dolphins this week, with an 11.75 Vegas-implied team total (a full 0.25 higher than when Vegas was expecting Josh Rosen to start instead of Ryan Fitzpatrick; hooray!). The Bills are one of the toughest defenses in the league against the pass — ranking fourth in DVOA, and having allowed the second fewest passing yards and the second fewest passing touchdowns in the league. Rostering good passing attacks against the Bills is “hoping for a miracle,” and this is even more the case for the Dolphins’ minor league unit.
The one place where the Bills are attackable is runs to the edge — which is where Kenyan Drake sees the majority of his success. As has been the case basically every week so far: “Drake has a real role in this offense and has an underrated floor given his pass-catching role (recent reception totals of 5 // 3 // 3 // 6), but touchdowns are also a big part of upside in DFS, and this continues to make it difficult for Drake to hit for ceiling.” Ultimately, rostering Dolphins players is just hoping to get lucky guessing right on a guy who might end up posting a high enough score to offset the risk. (If choosing to go here: Drake has enough of a role, and enough explosiveness, that he could become ceiling-useful if things break his way; DeVante Parker continues to rank at the very top of the league in aDOT, and Fitzpatrick will be happy to give him some shots to hit.)
On the Bills’ side of the ball: one of the goals of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is to run one of the most adaptable, opponent-specific offenses in the NFL, which creates an interesting situation for a Bills team that can literally attack in any way they want to in this spot.
So far this season, teams have been primarily attacking the Dolphins on the ground. No team has faced fewer pass attempts than the Dolphins this year, and — in spite of this team already having had their bye — only two teams have faced more RB rush attempts. Of course, “score” has had a lot more to do with this than matchup, as the Dolphins are not only bottom three in running back scoring, but have also been the worst team in the league at preventing fantasy production from quarterbacks.
We’ll take a look at the run game first, where Devin Singletary is expected to return this week to split work with Frank Gore. The Bills seem set on keeping Gore as their “1A” at the moment (and nothing in this matchup should force them to tilt a different way), but Gore has been capped at 16 to 21 touches per game, while the Dolphins have allowed an average of 35.8 running back touches per week. If reports have Singletary truly healthy and set for his normal workload this week, he’ll have a clear shot to push for 15+ touches himself.
Because teams are not passing much against Miami, this team has currently allowed the second fewest wide receiver catches — though they have allowed the fourth most WR touchdowns, and they’ve allowed a stunningly bad 29% increase on the league-average expected yards per target (the worst mark in the league). There is no bad matchup for any player on the Bills; only the potential for bad volume.
The order of focus for the Bills passing attack should go John Brown (7.8 targets per game; aDOT of 13.6), Cole Beasley (7.8 targets per game; aDOT of 7.0), and Duke Williams (four targets in his first game action two weeks ago, after which the Bills unloaded Zay Jones).
JM’s Interpretation ::
With the Dolphins facing only 28.4 pass attempts per game, three out of five teams have failed to top 264 passing yards against them — introducing risk that we see “good, but not slate-breaking” scores emerging from the Bills this week. Add in the erratic tendencies of Josh Allen, and there is a solid chance that no one in this passing attack posts a “have to have it” score. That said: The Bills won’t be Washington, and should pass enough for at least two of their pass catchers to produce solid numbers, with clear paths to one of the guys on this side of the ball picking up 100 yards and/or posting multiple scores to turn into one of the stronger plays on the slate.
The Bills’ backfield is attractive for overall production, with the Dolphins having allowed the aforementioned 35.8 running back touches per game while giving up 197.6 yards per game the position (run/pass combined) — with 1.8 touchdowns and 4.6 catches per game given up to backs. If Singletary is healthy this week, this should be a two-man backfield (T.J. Yeldon played only five total snaps the first two weeks of the year), and there is genuine potential for both Gore and Singletary to prove valuable this week, and a clear case can be made for “picking either of these guys” and feeling comfortable with the floor/ceiling you’re exposing yourself to. Singletary is the better bet for a big yardage game, though it won’t be a surprise if the Bills try to get Gore a touchdown or two against his old team.
As for Josh Allen himself: he’s definitely in the top seven quarterbacks on the slate — though “pocket discipline” has been a major emphasis for this team so far this year, and with wide receivers likely to be open most plays, his chances of a monster game on the ground are lowered, while aerial volume will likely be lowered as well, creating fewer paths to a slate-breaker than the optics of the matchup might suggest. With that said: Allen will have multiple opportunities for big plays, and there is an alternate “game environment” thought that has Daboll simply looking to lay down the hammer in this spot and unleash Allen in a blowout win. This is not what I expect from the Bills, but if mass-multi-entering, the ceiling is high enough in this scenario that it’s worth building some rosters around this idea. Multiple Bills will almost certainly have a strong game, so building for these “strong games” to become “elite games” doesn’t take too much imagination, and can be comfortably played around with in tourneys.
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