This game between the 1-6 Jets and the 0-7 Dolphins creates a handful of interesting notes to kick us off ::
The Jets (27:29) and the Dolphins (26:31) are combining for only 54:00 in time of possession per game this year — opening opportunities for one side (or both sides) to see a notable bump in play volume.
Both pass protection units rank bottom three in adjusted sack rate…but both pass rush units rank bottom eight — opening opportunities for each offense to have more time for plays to develop through the air than they typically have.
Each team ranks bottom 12 (Jets 21st; Dolphins 32nd) in pass defense DVOA.
The Dolphins have allowed the most points per game, and the Jets have allowed the eighth most points per game.
As noted at the top of the NFL Edge this week ::
The Dolphins have point totals on the year of 10 // 0 // 6 // 10 // 16 // 21 // 14, so it has been tough for their games to eclipse 40 points even with their opponents scoring (only two of their seven games have topped 43.0). The Jets with Sam Darnold under center have scored 16 // 24 // 0 // 15 (though the three lower-scoring games did come against the Bills, Patriots, and Jags, while even the 24-pointer came against the Cowboys). The likeliest scenario in this game will have both quarterbacks playing fairly aggressive football while making too many mistakes and failing in the red zone too often for the game to become a shootout — but it at least has a solid shot at pushing for 40+ points, and there are a few paths to the game producing strong stat lines from various spots.
We’ll kick things off on the Dolphins side, where they will be facing a Jets team that ranks third in DVOA against the run and has allowed only one rusher to eclipse 100 yards against them in spite of their 1-6 record. As someone who doesn’t look at ownership projections throughout the week and relies primarily on my own research, I was genuinely stunned when games kicked off on Sunday and Leonard Fournette was one of the highest-owned running backs against the Jets at his ultra-lofty DraftKings price (he needed 30+ points to really be worth a roster spot) — and was requisitely annoyed when Fournette picked up 66 yards on a single run right off the bat. From that point forward, however, Fournette gained 10 yards on 18 carries, which is a good snapshot of what this run defense can do against a mediocre to below-average line. The Dolphins rank 25th in adjusted line yards on offense — one spot ahead of the Jags (and without a talented bellcow back like Fournette in the backfield), making this a really difficult spot for Miami to move the ball on the ground.
When the Dolphins take to the air, however, the story is a bit different. Although there isn’t any “roots-level” overlap between the development of last year’s Buccaneers coaching staff, this year’s Buccaneers coaching staff, and this year’s Dolphins coaching staff, all three passing attacks (’18 Bucs with Jameis and Fitzpatrick; ’19 Bucs with Jameis; ’19 Dolphins with Fitzpatrick) incorporate similar elements. While Jameis ranks first in average intended air yards this year (10.8), Ryan Fitzpatrick ranks third (10.4). While Mike Evans ranks fourth in aDOT (15.7), DeVante Parker ranks sixth (15.4). And while Chris Godwin (aDOT of 11.1) has the “intermediate + deep” role on the Bucs, Preston Williams (14.3) has that role on the Dolphins. Evans has 38.2% of the Bucs’ air yards while Parker has 31.2%. Godwin is sitting at 25.3% compared to 32.2% for Williams — and Fitzpatrick ranks third in aggressiveness percentage compared to sixth for Jameis. (Fitzpatrick even has a slightly higher completion percentage and expected completion percentage than Jameis.)
Of course, the similarities end there, as the Dolphins have been totally incapable of sustaining drives or scoring points — and while Williams/Parker are not far behind Evans in catch rate, all three are miles behind Godwin, who plays a big role in keeping Bucs drives alive. But against a Jets secondary that has given up season-best games to John Brown, Odell Beckham, and Chris Conley (while otherwise facing the short-area, spread-it-around Patriots attack twice, the spread-it-around Eagles once in an obliteration with Falk under center, and the Cowboys with Amari getting hurt early), there will be opportunities for these players to perform at a level above salary-based expectations — especially if the Jets are able to get things going on their side of the ball.
We know by now that there are no bad matchups against the Jets, only bad volume; but with this game being played in Miami and currently carrying a spread of only 3.0 points, there is a solid chance the Jets are unable to just sit on their poor rushing attack and kill the game in that way.
It has been an interesting year for Sam Darnold, as he has completed an impressive 69.9% of his passes if we take out his game against the Patriots — but he is averaging only 6.1 yards per pass attempt, with his matchups so far coming against three teams (Patriots // Bills // Jags) that rank top eight in DVOA against the pass, and his other matchup (10.6 yards per pass attempt; 338 yards and two touchdowns) coming against a Cowboys team that ranks 17th. The Dolphins rank 32nd.
Darnold topped 250 yards passing only four times last year (and had only five games with multiple touchdown passes), so there is obvious risk in what has become a fairly directionless Jets offense under Adam Gase (who I will loudly proclaim I was wrong on this year — as I actually liked the setup with him joining forces with Darnold; instead of the aggressive, pace-up offense Gase promised (and practiced) in the offseason, however, we have gotten the same old Vanilla Gase playing slow and blaming his players for everything that goes wrong). But given the matchup and the weapons around him (Robby Anderson // Jamison Crowder // Demaryius Thomas // with Chris Herndon tentatively expected to return this week), there are certainly paths to a really nice game (especially with prices considered) from the Jets passing attack.
The highest upside in this attack belongs to Anderson, who has target counts with Darnold this year of 7 // 8 // 8 // 6, and whose aDOT of 14.6 and percentage share of team air yards of 40.84 (fifth highest in the league) point to at least a couple big games coming from him during the second half of the season. He comes with a low floor, but this in-shambles Dolphins secondary is as good a spot as any for Anderson to hit. (The Dolphins have allowed 4-147-2 to Marquise Brown // 4-100-2 to Terry McLaurin // 5-83-1 to John Brown — all of whom profile similarly to Robby.)
The highest floor likely belongs to Crowder, though his targets aren’t quite as bankable against the poor pass rush of the Dolphins. If the work is there, Crowder will have no trouble in this matchup; but there is at least some chance that the work remains on the lower end with Darnold having extra time to look downfield.
The Demaryius Value Train paid off last week on DraftKings and FantasyDraft at his dirt-low price; he has target counts with Darnold of 4 // 9 // 5 and has caught nine of nine passes from Darnold in games where he wasn’t dealing with the Patriots. He’s a solid salary-saver with four or five catches in three of his last four games and 40 to 65 yards in four straight. He’s not a major threat for big plays, but he’s a reliable intermediate target for Darnold and can pay off for ceiling with a touchdown. (He’s a much better play on DraftKings and FantasyDraft than on FanDuel, as FanDuel salary is always loose enough that you should be looking to build some form of an All Star Team each week.)
Finally, we have the Jets backfield — where Le’Veon Bell (for sake of example) has scored DraftKings/FantasyDraft totals of 23.2 // 21.9 // 10.3 // 15.8 // 12.3 // 8.6 // 6.5, and has seen his DraftKings price go from a low of $6000 in Week 7 to a “WTF” $7700 this week. Bell is more affordable on other sites (on FantasyDraft, his salary is the equivalent of $7.15k on DraftKings — though pricing as a whole is a bit looser over there; on FanDuel, he costs the DraftKings equivalent of $5.83k — though again, with salary looser as a whole, Dalvin Cook (for example) costs the equivalent of $7.5k, so you’re still “paying up” for Bell compared to what you can get elsewhere). From a salary perspective on DK/FDraft, Bell needs to be able to hit around 28 to 31 points to really be worth a roster spot (while on FanDuel — you know, All Star Teams and all — his salary multiplier isn’t as important as the raw score you need; and you essentially need him to be able to at least come close to Cook/CMC, as you can always fill up your FanDuel roster with high-scoring plays across the board). Working in Bell’s favor is a workhorse role and a great matchup. Working against Bell is his atrocious offensive line and the fact that Darnold has only thrown to him 4.75 times per game (including giving him only one target in his softest matchup against the Cowboys). The likeliest scenario has Darnold throwing downfield to open receivers with time on his hands, instead of checking things down to Bell, so you need something different from the “likeliest scenario” or you need a big game on the ground for Bell to produce at the level his salary requires.
JM’s Interpretation ::
I’m a bit perturbed by the Bell price tag, as his path to a 20-point DraftKings/FantasyDraft game and 17-point FanDuel game is pretty clear; and yet, you need him to be able to do so much more in this “offense that should be able to pass the ball this week” than he has done all year. The matchup is tremendous, and he’s a safe play with upside; but it will still be difficult for him to reach the sort of score you really need him to reach.
Bell is the only player in this game with real “staple piece” potential (with the price — again — detracting from that a bit), but all of Darnold // Fitzpatrick // Parker // Williams // “Jets pass catchers” are in the tournament conversation, especially with prices cheap on these guys and value thin this week. Some things would have to go really right for this game between two inefficient offenses to turn into a genuine shootout; but things would have to go really wrong for points to not be scored in this spot as well, as each offense is willing to be aggressive (the Dolphins in particular), and each defense is very attackable (the Jets through the air; the Dolphins all the way around). With that, three or four “solid price-considered scores” should emerge from the main pass game pieces on the Dolphins and Jets, and it won’t be surprising if at least one really strong price-considered Upside score shows up as well (with Robby // Parker // Williams leading the way in that regard, but with other pieces carrying some potential in this area as well).
:: Compete against the OWS fam in the One Week Season Survivor contest!