JETS // DOLPHINS OVERVIEW
As is typically the case at this time of year, the Jets and Dolphins are hanging out together far below the Patriots in the AFC East standings, with New York sitting at 3-5 and Miami sitting at 4-4. Neither team is “bad,” but neither team has the pieces to be good — and this is especially true at this point, with injuries hitting each team at wide receiver over the last few weeks, and with neither quarterback able to do much through the air.
While neither offense is good, however, each defense has taken steps backward as the season has moved along — with the Dolphins ranked 27th in yards allowed per game and the Jets ranked 24th, and with Miami ranked 27th in points allowed as well (the Jets rank 19th). With each offense ranked bottom six in yards per game (and bottom half of the league in points per game), this is no guarantee of offensive success — but it will be interesting to dig into this game and see what we turn up. Vegas has hedged a bit in this spot, pegging this game with an Over/Under of 45.0, while awarding implied point totals of 21.0 to the Jets and 24.0 to the Dolphins. Miami has reached 24.0 in only one of their last five games, while the Jets have failed to reach 21.0 in five of their last seven. When these teams played in Week 2, the Dolphins pulled out a scintillating 20-12 victory.
JETS PASS OFFENSE
Only seven teams this year have allowed fewer receptions to wide receivers than the Dolphins — but only eight teams have allowed more yards, as the Dolphins continue to have coverage and tackling breakdowns that are leading to big plays. Only nine teams have allowed more pass plays of 20+ yards than the Dolphins, and only one team has allowed more pass plays of 40+ yards. No team in the league has allowed a higher YAC/R rate than the Dolphins.
This matchup is somewhat wasted on a passing attack that is still missing its only big-play threat in Robby Anderson, with “leading receiver” Jermaine Kearse sitting at an embarrassing xYAC/R of only 3.4. Last week, the Jets were forced to play Andre Roberts on 32 snaps, Deontay Burnett on 41 snaps, and Charone Peake on 16 snaps. Rishard Matthews played 19 snaps and may see his role grow further this week. Kearse led the team in targets after his zero-target dud in Week 7 — but unlike Week 6 (9-93-0 on 10 targets), he hauled in only three of his 10 looks, for 30 total yards. Burnett led the team in receiving last week, going 4-61-0 on four looks. He is miscast as an outside receiver, but he should see four or five looks once again. The Jets have produced only one 100-yard receiver this season, when Anderson popped off for a 3-123-2 line against the Broncos. Sam Darnold has topped 206 passing yards only twice on the year.
Only three teams are running more multiple-tight-end sets this year than the Jets, which continues to lead to Jordan Leggett, Eric Tomlinson, Neal Sterling, and Chris Herndon all seeing time on the field, with none of these guys seeing more than 50% of the team’s snaps. While all of these guys are running pass routes, Herndon has been the standout pass catcher, hauling in seven of 11 targets across the last three weeks, for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, with a pair of two-target games across the last three weeks, his floor is bone bare.
JETS RUN OFFENSE
The bad news for Isaiah Crowell :: 1. He is still dealing with a foot/ankle injury that appears to be sapping him of burst // 2. His offensive line ranks 30th in adjusted line yards // 3. He has not topped 16 carries in a game this season, and he has topped 13 carries only twice // 4. He has not topped two receptions in a game this year // 5. The Jets are averaging 2.5 touchdowns per game (22nd in the NFL), with only two touchdowns per game across the last three weeks // 6. Outside his two blowup games, Crow has totaled 163 yards on 69 carries — for an impossibly bad 2.36 YPC mark.
The good news for Crow :: 1. Bilal Powell is not here to take away work from him, and the Jets don’t seem to trust Trenton Cannon on the ground (eight total carries the last two weeks) // 2. Miami has allowed the third most rushing yards to running backs and the fourth most rushing touchdowns to running backs in the league.
When these teams met in Week 2, Crow had 12 carries for 35 yards. He’s boom/bust, but a “boom” week is not impossible.
The Dolphins have also been beatable with pass-catching backs — ranking bottom 10 in both receptions and yards allowed to the position. Cannon played over half of the Jets’ snaps last week and ran 18 pass routes, though he saw only four targets — going 3-12-0. His floor is low in this offense that is terrified of taking the training wheels off Darnold, but he does carry some YAC ceiling against this poor-tackling unit. An unfailing optimist might believe the Jets will watch film of the way Chicago used Tarik Cohen in this matchup and aim to use Cannon in the same way.
DOLPHINS PASS OFFENSE
Well, well, well. Last week, DeVante Parker came alive on Thursday Night Football — playing 66 of a possible 66 snaps, running a pass route on 40 of a possible 41 opportunities, and turning nine targets into a 6-134-0 line. Parker had a catch zero yards downfield, a catch five yards downfield, a catch 10 yards downfield, a catch 15 yards downfield, a catch 20 yards downfield, and a catch 40 yards downfield (the 40-yard catch was the helmet-bounce catch that was not actually thrown to him, but he also failed to connect on a pair of 20-yard targets and a 35-yard target) — no-joke usage that should carry over to this week, against a Jets defense that has allowed the most wide receiver catches and the fourth most wide receiver yards in the league. The Jets allow an increase of 10.8% above the league-average aDOT and are also below-average in preventing yards after the catch. Only four teams allow more plays per game than the Jets (a needed boost for Miami, which ranks 31st in plays per game), and opponents tend to lean on the pass in this matchup, with the Jets ranking in the top half of the league in opponent pass play rate. The Dolphins’ offense has shifted with Brock Osweiler under center — ramping up their pass play rate, and attacking downfield more often than they did with Tannehill. This is still a bad offense with a bad quarterback (introducing some question marks and variance), but Parker should be in line for solid usage once again.
Danny Amendola will continue to operate in the slot, where he has recent target counts of 11 // 7 // 6 from Osweiler. Amendola has hauled in 19 of these 24 looks (79.2%), for 186 yards. Consider him a possession-role player with a respectable floor and a bit of touchdown upside.
With Osweiler throwing 37 passes last week as Houston jumped out to a big, early lead, Jakeem Grant also saw eight looks — turning in a 4-36-0 line. As with last week: Grant will carry a low floor, but a high ceiling, as he’ll see a number of looks close to the line of scrimmage, giving him a chance for some YAC upside with his explosive speed.
Kenny Stills returned to the practice field on Wednesday, but he was listed as DNP and was only seen working with trainers. If he returns this week, it will put a wrench into the predictability of this group, as Stills should take some downfield work away from Parker, and Grant will see his snaps step backward. But if Stills remains on the sidelines, it should be Parker, Amendola, and Grant leading the charge once again.
DOLPHINS RUN OFFENSE
The Jets are allowing a middling 4.24 yards per carry to running backs, and they have given up seven rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns to the position — each of which creates a positive spot for the Dolphins’ backfield as a unit, with things breaking down once we look at these guys as individual plays. Eight games into the year, Frank Gore has only six receptions and only one game with more than 63 rushing yards, while scoring zero touchdowns on the ground (almost impossibly: this running back group as a whole has only two combined carries inside the 10 — with Miami ranking 30th in red zone scoring attempts per game). Drake, on the other hand, has yet to top 14 carries (with single-digit carries in half his games), while he has topped four catches in a game only once. Gore will need a multi-touchdown game in order to pay off. Drake will need some splash plays on his limited touches.
The more we add to this week’s bank of “games already written,” the more it seems like this will be a weekend of heavily-concentrated ownership, as very few spots jump off the page (and the spots that do jump off the page happen to really, really pop).
I probably won’t have any action on the Jets, as this team is just producing too little offensive upside this year to be worthy of strong attention. If that changes for me, the guy likeliest to rise to the top is Crowell, with Cannon a secondary consideration behind him.
I do expect to take a close look at the Dolphins’ passing attack, with Parker standing out for his upside, and with Amendola standing out for his floor. Even Grant can be considered (as a low-floor, strong-ceiling play), given what he can do with the ball in his hands. At the very least, Parker and Amendola will at least be added to my early-week list as “top plays on a bad offense,” to be compared against the “background plays on good offenses” that find themselves in the same general price range this week.
I’ll also take a look at Drake if value proves thin this week, as his explosiveness will give him an opportunity to pop off in this game. His limited touches, of course, give him a lower-than-optimal floor.
SATURDAY EVENING UPDATE // Full “Updates” List
Elijah McGuire will take over the Bilal Powell role on the Jets this week — and with Crowell looking poor lately as he battles through a foot injury, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that McGuire sees as many as 15 touches. I have him pegged for about 10 carries and two receptions, but even that’s enough to make him an interesting salary-saver, given what he opens up elsewhere on your roster. If he rises to 15+ touches, he could become a true difference-maker on the slate. Obviously, there is a ton of guesswork to this play, so consider it risky; but the price-considered upside is there.