Redskins at Dolphins shapes up as a sloppy game between two bad teams, but because these teams are as bad on defense as they are on offense (each team ranks bottom three in offensive DVOA, and each ranks bottom four in defensive DVOA), there is at least some opportunity for the offenses in this game to produce at a high enough level to matter in DFS.
If we filter out the fourth quarter of games and take only situations in which the Dolphins are within 10 points of their opponent, we end up with a fairly non-aggressive Miami team, passing on a roughly league-average 59% of plays while mixing in a two man backfield rotation that has mostly consisted of Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage to begin the year, though it is expected that Mark Walton will be taking over Ballage’s role this week. Miami’s gutted out offensive line has performed poorly this year, ranking 30th in adjusted line yards while helping this team to a pathetic 3.0 yards per carry – dead last in the NFL. The one thing that can be said for this rushing attack in Week 6 is that they should see more carries than they have so far this year (the Dolphins are averaging four fewer carries per game than any other team in the league, with Washington the next team in line). Washington is allowing an attackable 4.3 yards per carry to running backs, and they have also been average against running backs out of the backfield – where Drake brings most of his value (13 catches on the season, and at least five targets in three of four games).
The Dolphins passing attack is at least theoretically attractive in this soft matchup after Josh Rosen has faced off with New England, Dallas, and the Chargers, but these matchups to date are a bit deceptive as the Chargers currently ranked 25th in pass defense DVOA and the Cowboys currently ranked 17th. Washington ranks 28th, but they do have enough of an ability to get after the quarterback – and frankly, they have enough of a talent edge in the secondary over the Dolphins receivers – that this is no clear pushover.
Targets for the Dolphins passing attack have been fairly reliable, with DeVante Parker seeing target counts of 7 // 7 // 6 // 4, and with Preston Williams seeing 5 // 6 // 12 // 7. Williams is likelier to see targets from Rosen, while Parker quietly leads the NFL in average depth of target – with his mark of 19.9 a full 2.6 yards higher than any other player in the league. This passing attack is also expected to return Albert Wilson to the field this week (though given how long Wilson has been “trending in the right direction,” we should take a “wait until we see it to believe it” approach). If Wilson is out there this week, he will provide a much needed underneath target for the Miami offense, though it is anyone’s guess as to how targets will shake out. So far, the Dolphins have effectively used Drake as their underneath receiver, though there is a chance that the return of Wilson reshapes the approach of this offense as a whole. Wilson’s after-catch ability makes him at least somewhat attractive in this matchup as a low-priced piece who could theoretically pop off for a big game.
As noted above, Washington has run the ball as little as any team in the league this year, and this is one of the first things that Bill Callahan is hoping to change as the interim head coach (because, of course, it makes sense to announce this to your opponents when taking over the head coaching job). There is a case to be made that part of the reason Washington was running the ball so little was because they were likely to be thoroughly ineffective when attempting to run – with this team currently ranking 27th in adjusted line yards, and with Adrian Peterson currently carrying PFF’s number 71 rush grade this year. Given Callahan’s certainty that the lack of run game is a big part of this team’s issues, however, it does seem likely that Peterson clears 12 carries for the first time this year – and in fact, if game flow works in his favor, a push for 20 or more carries isn’t out of the question. Miami has been (unsurprisingly) attackable on the ground, ranking 31st in run defense DVOA while allowing the third most running back rushing yards in the league at 4.77 yards per carry.
When Washington takes to the air this week, it is looking likely that we will have Case Keenum under center again. Keenum is no world beater, but his gunslinger mentality played nicely in DFS through the first three weeks of the season, when he piled up passing yardage totals of 380 // 221 // 332, while going for touchdown totals of 3 // 2 // 2. The entire passing attack struggled in Week 4 with Terry McLaurin on the sidelines (leading to Keenum’s benching), but Keenum is totally capable of getting the job done in a matchup like this if given the chance. Of course, “if given the chance” is the big question mark, as Washington would clearly prefer to keep the ball on the ground and to throw only as a compliment. This creates some questions on the viability of the Washington pass game pieces, even in an ultra soft spot, as Washington has been largely playing from behind this year, and that is not guaranteed to be the case in Week 6.
The most explosive piece on this passing attack, of course, is Terry McLaurin, who has seen target counts of 7 // 9 // 8 // 7, and who has scored three touchdowns on the year while going for at least 50 yards in every game. Unfortunately, McLaurin has been priced up for the matchup on all three sites, requiring some faith to go to him this week – trusting that this bad Washington offense will continue to get the ball into his hands even after the coaching change, and even after a stated shift in philosophy that will have this team focusing more heavily on the ground. Outside of McLaurin, this passing attack gets pretty thin pretty quickly, as Trey Quinn has shown nothing this year, and Paul Richardson has shown himself to be viable “with Washington falling behind and with McLaurin on the field to draw attention,” but only one of those two factors is guaranteed to be in play this week.
JM’s Interpretation ::
There is a relative dearth of viable salary-savers on this week’s slate, which generally leads to one of two approaches in roster construction:
1) Load up on mid-priced guys in an effort to grab steady production across the board, while attempting to capture a couple of spiked weeks along the way.
2) Take the “cheapest guys who might be able to have a good game” in order to fit in some of the high-priced studs with smash potential.
The most attractive piece in this game, of course, is McLaurin, but he unfortunately falls into the first approach, as a missed week and a relative dud against the Patriots in his return have disappointingly led to his price tag rising. McLaurin’s “score from anywhere on the field” ability and his matchup against a Dolphins secondary that does boast Xavien Howard, but that is also forced to cover for far too long each play combine to make him completely viable as an upside target in tourneys this week, though the low-ish floor he comes with at his price — attached to a bad offense, in a bad game environment — is worth keeping in mind.
Behind McLaurin, the pieces in this game all fall into the second category — and while the pieces are not exactly attractive, this is a week in which you may find yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel in a few spots, and this is at least a “matchup boost” for both of these teams compared to most of the spots they have dealt with this year.
At the mid-point in the week, the most attractive pieces from this game to me, if taking this approach, are Albert Wilson and Adrian Peterson. Washington’s zone-heavy scheme is beatable over the middle, and Miami has been forced to throw almost entirely to the perimeter early in the year with no one who can effectively run routes over the soft areas of the field. If Wilson is healthy, he should step into five to eight targets right away this week, giving him a decent floor at his price, and giving him some after-catch ceiling. As for Peterson: I don’t want to play him myself (generally speaking, the running back position is just far too valuable to take on an aging, one-dimensional player on a bad offense and “hope for touchdowns”), but the state of this slate will keep him in the rotation regardless as a piece to consider.
Behind these guys, Williams // Parker // Richardson // Chris Thompson (hoping game flow tilts his direction) are the pieces I would consider for the second approach, in that order. It’s not pretty; but it’s not a pretty week.