DOLPHINS // PACKERS OVERVIEW
Vegas and the betting public are not fooled by the standings here, as the 5-4 Dolphins have been installed as early-week 10-point underdogs on the road against the 3-4-1 Packers. In addition to being the better team, Green Bay is 0-4 on the road, but they are 3-0-1 at home. Miami is 4-1 at home, but they are 1-3 on the road.
The Dolphins not only play at the third slowest pace in the NFL, but — with an offense that ranks 28th in drive success rate — they have also found themselves with the second lowest time of possession, and with the second fewest plays per game. For years now, the Packers have been excellent at limiting opponent plays, and this year they rank sixth in time of possession on offense and rank in the top half of the league in fewest opponent plays allowed per game. The Dolphins as a whole rank 24th in points per game and 28th in yards per game.
On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins’ defense has been ripping at the seams lately, dropping to 19th in points allowed per game while allowing the seventh most yards per game in the league. Green Bay’s offense ranks sixth in yards per game and 14th in points per game. The Packers have averaged 21.0 points per game on the road compared to 27.0 per game at home. The Dolphins’ defense has allowed 21.2 points per game at home compared to 29.75 on the road.
The Dolphins’ offense, on the other hand, has scored only 16.75 points per game on the road, while the Packers have allowed 20.5 points per game at home compared to 30.5 points per game on the road.
DOLPHINS PASS OFFENSE
Brock Osweiler threw the ball only 24 times against the Jets last week, but this is not Tannehill’s run-heavy Dolphins offense, as Osweiler preceded that game with passing totals of 44 // 31 // 37. (Tannehill topped 23 pass attempts in only two of his five games — with totals of 28 and 35 in his other two contests.) If we expect the Packers to establish an early lead in this game, we should expect decent volume from Osweiler — for whatever that proves to be worth. Osweiler has topped 241 passing yards only once, while the Packers’ pass-focused defense has filtered opponents to the ground, facing the fifth fewest pass attempts in the league.
Through Osweiler’s four starts, target counts on the Dolphins have looked like this:
In the short areas of the field, the best way to attack the Packers is with slants and curls — the role Amendola occupies in this offense. With his locked-in workload and a matchup that plays to his strengths, he’s a solid “floor” piece this week, though he has a check-for-typo zero targets in the red zone all season — requiring a broken play for him to go for upside.
Downfield, the best way to beat the Packers is with deep crossing routes and plain old go routes (the Packers have had multiple lapses this year on downfield shots). While Parker saw a scary-low two targets last week, he played 51 out of 57 snaps and ran a pass route on 29 of Osweiler’s 30 drop-backs (tying Amendola for the team lead). Stills took a backseat, with 28 snaps and 17 pass routes run. In a game script that should force the Dolphins to be more aggressive than they had to be last week vs the Jets, it is reasonable to pencil in Parker for five to seven targets.
Grant (29 snaps last week) and Gesicki (27 snaps) are part-time players right now.
On the season, the Dolphins have only 19 red zone pass attempts and six red zone passing touchdowns. The Packers have also allowed one of the lowest catch rates in the league to wide receivers, at 58.7%.
DOLPHINS RUN OFFENSE
As has been noted in this space repeatedly: the Packers invite opponents to run the ball on them, which has led to this team ranking middle of the pack in rush attempts faced, while also ranking middle of the pack in yards allowed per carry.
While the matchup is not an issue for the Dolphins, game flow and the split nature of this backfield could be a problem.
Ancient Frank Gore ran the ball 20 times last week — his sixth consecutive game with double-digit carries. He has topped 63 rushing yards only once this year, and he has not yet scored a rushing touchdown. He has seven total receptions through the first nine games of the year.
Backfield partner Kenyan Drake, on the other hand, has hit double-digit carries in only two of his last seven games, while topping four catches only once on the year. Drake has floated a few usable box scores on the back of his five touchdowns, but his floor is bone bare on weeks when the touchdowns don’t make an appearance. Consider him a low-floor, modest-ceiling play against a Packers team that has been solid against the position (11th fewest receiving yards allowed to backs; third fewest receiving touchdowns).
PACKERS PASS OFFENSE
The Dolphins pass defense has gotten a lot of positive press this year, but they have been crumbling lately. On the year, this team is allowing a roughly league-average aDOT and catch rate, while allowing the second highest YAC/R rate in the NFL. The Dolphins rank 28th in yards allowed per pass attempt, and while they lead the NFL with 15 interceptions, three of those picks came against Mariota/Gabbert, six more have been gifted by Sam Darnold (across two contests), and another two came from Derek Carr. The Dolphins have also picked Brady (twice) and Dalton (once), but along the way they have given up 345 yards and a touchdown to Carr, 274 yards and three touchdowns at home to Brady, 248 yards and a touchdown at home to Dalton, 316 yards and three touchdowns to Trubisky, 217 yards and two touchdowns to Stafford, and 239 yards and five touchdowns to Deshaun Watson. The matchup is not a concern for Aaron Rodgers — with the only potential concern being volume, as the Dolphins (with their 23rd-ranked run defense) have faced the fifth lowest opponent pass play rate in the league. The last time the Packers played an opponent that invites teams to run (Detroit, in Week 5), Rodgers encouragingly threw a season-high 52 pass attempts…though in that game, the Packers were playing from behind, which is unlikely to be the case here. The Packers rank second in the NFL in pass play rate and prefer to let Rodgers win games for them (that is to say: Rodgers — who is effectively the offensive coordinator of this offense once he’s on the field — prefers to win games himself rather than handing off the ball), so volume should not be a massive concern (Rodgers has 40+ pass attempts in all but two games this year). But realize that there is a chance the Packers lean run-heavy as the game moves along. That’s really the only major obstacle in the way of a big game from the Packers’ QB.
Xavien Howard will find his name thrown around this week in the DFS community, as he ranks top 20 in fewest receptions allowed per coverage snap, and he has allowed a completion rate into his coverage of only 56.4%. He’ll shadow Davante Adams everywhere but the slot (where Adams has traveled only 21% of the time), but it is worth mentioning what we bring up every time Adams has a difficult draw: efficiency may be a struggle, but the targets will still be there, as Rodgers makes a point of getting Adams involved regardless. He saw 14 targets against Tre’Davious White (going 8-81-0) and nine targets against Stephon Gilmore (6-40-1). Those are the two most difficult shadow matchups in the league this year, leaving Adams with upside in tourneys.
Behind Adams, Rodgers has spread the ball around lately, giving five and six targets to each of Randall Cobb and Marquez Valdes-Scantling the last two weeks, while involving Jimmy Graham with four looks and six looks.
With Geronimo Allison moving to I.R., MVS should be locked into a starting gig the remainder of the year after playing 60 of a possible 74 snaps last week (Cobb played 56; Adams played 71). Now that MVS has moved out of the slot, he is carrying big upside on the downfield looks he is seeing. He played so well in Week 9, the Patriots eventually moved Gilmore to him — an indicator of the sort of damage he might be able to do this week away from Howard. Of course, that upside comes with a modest floor, as there is no guarantee he tops six targets (a mark he has risen above only once all year).
Cobb continues to handle a possession role and has topped 40 yards only once.
Behind these guys, Graham should continue to see his five to six looks, giving him a decent floor and ceiling. The Dolphins have been a middling matchup for tight ends this year, though they have allowed the fourth most touchdowns to the position.
PACKERS RUN OFFENSE
As noted above: the Packers run the ball at the second lowest rate in the league, which has led to this team piling up the fourth fewest rush attempts on the season. This team also continues to split backfield work between the low upside of Jamaal Williams (31 snaps last week; six straight games with under 35 rushing yards) and Aaron Jones (43 snaps last week; 40+ rushing yards in all six games he has played, in spite of seeing double-digit carries in only half his games). Jones has contributed two catches in three of his last four games, though these have been dump-off targets without much upside attached to them, and he has yet to reach 20 receiving yards. His main value will have to come on the ground, where he does at least have 12 and 14 carries the last two weeks. Even if the rushing attempts rise for this team as a whole, it seems unlikely at this point that Jones will top 15 rushes himself — but 14 to 15 carries and one to three catches could be enough for him to provide sneaky value against a Miami team that ranks bottom 10 in yards allowed per carry and bottom five in rushing yards allowed per game.
Unsurprisingly, nothing much stands out on the Miami side of the ball in this spot — but Amendola does appear to be a solid space-filler in cash games on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, with full-PPR scoring. He’s unlikely to post a big score, but he’s likely to provide a solid floor, which is more than can be said about a lot of guys in his price range. Behind Amendola, Parker is an interesting tourney play — as a guy no one will want to roster after his two-target dud last week. If game flow goes as expected (and if Parker continues to play ahead of Stills), he could see five to seven looks, and he would carry upside on those targets, making him a low-floor, solid-ceiling play. Behind these two, I won’t be surprised if some other piece on this offense posts a decent score, but I don’t expect to be hunting for it myself.
On the Packers, I like Jones less than I wanted to, but he should provide a solid score, with upside for a difference-making score if he gets a touchdown opportunity or two. The matchup is great, but volume remains a concern.
I do like Rodgers as a safe, high-upside play at quarterback (he’ll push for 300 yards, and he should account for two to three touchdowns), and I like both Adams and MVS as Upside plays. Neither guy leaps off the page, but each deserves consideration. The same could be said for Jimmy Graham at the ever-thin tight end position.
Finally, I wouldn’t be against taking a shot on an aggressive Packers defense that ranks sixth in the NFL in sacks and will be facing a quarterback in Osweiler who is prone to bad throws and errors in judgement. There are some better “on paper” plays on the slate, but the Packers are the type of team that could score a defensive touchdown against a quarterback like Osweiler, keeping them firmly in the Week 10 conversation.