Kickoff Sunday, Sep 17th 8:20pm Eastern

Dolphins (
24.25) at

Patriots (
22.25)

Over/Under 46.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Dolphins Run D
21st DVOA/8th Yards allowed per carry
Patriots Run O
23rd DVOA/24th Yards per carry
Dolphins Pass D
18th DVOA/12th Yards allowed per pass
Patriots Pass O
29th DVOA/28th Yards per pass
Patriots Run D
1st DVOA/1st Yards allowed per carry
Dolphins Run O
3rd DVOA/1st Yards per carry
Patriots Pass D
13th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per pass
Dolphins Pass O
2nd DVOA/2nd Yards per pass

XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT

Sunday Night Football has the Dolphins visiting the Patriots for a 46.5 total game with Miami favored by 2.5, so essentially a toss-up when home field advantage is considered. It’s something of a strength-on-strength matchup as the Dolphins elite offense goes up against the strong (especially at home) Patriots D, while on the other side, we have a Pats offense that we don’t really know the identity of yet going up against a Dolphins D that is strong on paper but just gave up 34 to the Chargers in Week 1. So, on the one hand, some knowns, while on the other hand, unknowns, which makes for a fun Showdown.

Miami

We’ll start with the run game where Raheem Mostert largely had the backfield to himself, playing 73% of the snaps but only netting 12 running back opportunities (10 carries, two targets) as Miami had a largely aerial game plan. Backup Salvon Ahmed played 28% of the snaps and had six opportunities (three carries, three targets, none of which he caught), while fullback Alec Ingold caught two targets. Tua Tagovailoa attempted 45 passes for a whopping 75% passing play rate on dropbacks (not counting Tua’s scramble attempts). On this week’s show with Hilow, I talked about how projection systems have a hard time accounting for extreme scenarios, and this is one of them. No projection system is going to project a 75% passing play rate, but sometimes teams do that. What’s curious is that the Chargers are a team that has long been viewed as being more vulnerable on the ground, and many of their opponents try to go for a rushing-focused attack, until or unless, they are forced to do otherwise, but Miami just came out throwing and kept throwing. The game was close throughout so it wasn’t as if the Chargers jumped out to a big lead and Miami changed their game plan in response. Given that the matchup favored the run, I think this tells us something useful about how Miami plans to run its offense this year, and that is through Tua and its passing game. Mostert will get work, of course, but the lion’s share of the running back work is less valuable when a team is only calling rush attempts on 25% of their offensive plays. That leaves Mostert overpriced for his likeliest workload at $8,000, but he could still prove useful if he falls into some touchdowns, and we could see the Dolphins adopt a more run-heavy approach if they’re playing with a lead later in the game. All of this makes me want to shy away from Mostert broadly, but I will utilize him more heavily on rosters that are predicated on the Dolphins winning the game handily. We could also see more of Ahmed if the Dolphins are playing with a significant lead given Mostert’s extensive injury history (they may not want to give him 20 carries no matter what the game scenario, and may use Ahmed to try and preserve Mostert). Finally, rookie Devon Achane was inactive in Week 1 even though he had no injury designation, but my guess is the Dolphins were just being cautious with their young guy. After a full week of practice, I expect him to be active for this game, though likely in a fairly modest role. Achane has some explosive talent to him, so he could potentially go off on limited touches. I also expect he’ll be low owned because projection systems aren’t likely to award him a lot of touches (and thus if he projects for like 3-5 points at $4,600, his ownership will be very low but I do think he has 12-15 point upside, which is a smash at that price). 

Showdown Ownership Projections!

Ownership updates automatically

In the passing game, one reason we loved Miami last season is that their offense was almost ludicrously concentrated around Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. That was still somewhat the case in Week 1, with the duo seeing 20 targets on 45 pass attempts, though it was skewed with 15 to Hill and just five for Waddle. Given Waddle’s talent, I think that was just a random blip and not the beginning of a trend. What is curious is the rest of the distribution: slot man Braxton Berrios saw five targets, but River Cracraft saw five of his own. One detail worth noting is that Hill and Waddle only played 66% and 64% of the snaps, respectively (far less than primary WRs generally play. I’m unsure if this is a trend or just an early season “easing in,” but it does create some more volatility in the Dolphins receiving corps). Some guy named Erik Ezukanma also saw 28% of the WR snaps but no targets, but at minimum salary just being on the field that much puts him in play for MME. Also interesting is that Durham Smythe played 100% of the snaps at tight end, and despite having a lengthy reputation as primarily being a blocker, he saw seven targets in Week 1 (after the Dolphins coaching staff talked up wanting to get him more involved in the passing game). Week 1 alert: we shouldn’t read too much into what happened in one game, but this certainly creates some interesting value options on Miami. Smythe is the one I feel the most confident about because he’s going to be on the field a ton and the target spike also coincides with some coaching comments about using him more as a receiver this year. Berrios and Cracraft are volatile options but both are likely to at least be involved in the passing game. We can’t reasonably project Tua to drop back 45 times again, but something like 2-4 targets feels like a safe projection for both of them with some upside for more. Overall, though, Hill and Waddle are the big dogs here, which makes the Miami side relatively easy: we like Tua, we like Hill, we like Waddle, and we can mix in the other guys occasionally. 

New England

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