Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 3
Raiders vs. Dolphins
Can Derek Carr overcome a stingy Dolphins pass defense?
Through the first two weeks of the season, the Dolphins have given up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and rank top of the league in pass defense DVOA. That may sound intimidating for Derek Carr, and on some level it is, the Dolphins have played well, but it’s important to look at who the Dolphins have faced so far. In Week 1, it was the Tennessee Titans and a mix of Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert (once Mariota got hurt). Then, it was the New York Jets and Sam Darnold. Not to take anything away from Mariota or Darnold, but I think it’s fair to argue that Carr might be the best quarterback the Dolphins have seen so far this year. Still, the question remains, which Carr will we see? Will it be Week 1 Carr who threw three interceptions? Or Week 2 Carr who threw for 288 yards and a touchdown? Either way, Carr is a very risky play this week and I’d avoid him in everything except two quarterback leagues.
Can Marshawn Lynch overcome a similarly stingy Dolphins run defense?
If you’re a Lynch owner and noticed that he had been limited at practice all week, don’t worry, he should be fine to start Sunday (and doesn’t carry a Week 3 injury designation as of this writing). Lynch is a bit touchdown-dependent, and if you look a the Dolphins run defense, they’ve been pretty solid so far, though again, I think it’s fair to argue Lynch might be the best running back they’ve seen yet (either him or Dion Lewis). So far this year, the Dolphins’ defensive line has bent but not completely broken in run defense—not frequently stuffing the running back at the line of scrimmage, but being decent at limiting runs of five yards or more. As a result, Lynch represents a bit of a risky play for me. I’ve got him as a low-end RB2 in standard leagues and an RB3 in PPR leagues.
If we’re worried about Carr, should we be worried about the receivers?
Yes, to an extent. I think Amari Cooper represents the only startable Raiders receiver this week, and even he will likely be a low-end WR2. It’s possible for a quarterback to have a bad fantasy game while a wide receiver has a good one, and that certainly could happen here. I think Cooper’s going to see Xavien Howard for most of this game, which I think represents a fairly even matchup, especially since Cooper is bigger (in size, not height) than Howard and faster. If Carr’s throwing the ball, I think Cooper’s going to be his best bet, so I could see him putting up some decent numbers.
What about Jared Cook?
I actually kind of like Cook this week, I’ve got him as a TE1. While the Dolphins have been stingy in the secondary, they haven’t been quite as stingy against tight ends, giving up over 100 yards to Titans’ tight ends in Week 1. Cook will probably see Reshad Jones mostly on the defense, and I think that could be a relatively favorable matchup for Cook, given that Jones isn’t all that great as a safety.
Coming into Week 3, The Miami Dolphins are 2-0 and sit atop the AFC East. This may be unexpected, but it is not based on any unsustainable performances or a lot of luck. The Dolphins defense has been solid, the run game has moved the ball, and Ryan Tannehill has taken care of the ball. The Raiders aren’t a particularly strong team and managed to trade away their best defensive piece during the preseason, so expecting the Dolphins to be 3-0 after Sunday wouldn’t be obscene.
What will the WR snap breakdown look like?
This may be a repeat from last week, but it actually looks like DeVante Parker might suit up on Sunday against the Raiders. Through two games, the Wide Receiver snaps for the Dolphins (sans Parker) have been 94% Kenny Stills, 73% Danny Amendola, 52% Albert Wilson, and 47% Jakeem Grant. The really interesting part to that breakdown is that Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson have seen the most targets per snap for the team (Grant actually leads the team in targets through both games). Based on prior usage, it would be safe to assume that DeVante Parker takes on the 90% snaps that Stills is seeing now, but the rest of the snaps and targets look like they might be a free-for-all.
Go Away Frank Gore, For All of Fantasy’s Sake
Kenyan Drake is the unquestioned starter based on snap counts and touches. Unfortunately, Old Man Frank Gore has seen 20 touches through two weeks, while on the field just over a third of the time. Admittedly, Gore has managed some long runs (typically through holes that I might pick up a few yards on), but this backfield should be Drake’s. For a team that is as conservative with the ball as the Dolphins seem to be, Kenyan Drake is a great back who is as much of a weapon with his ability to run routes as he is to quickly burst through a hole or turn the edge. Specific to this week, Oakland has allowed nearly 100 yards rushing each week, which bodes well for the Miami rushing attack. P.J. Hall, a starting defensive tackle for the Raiders is trending to miss this contest, which will leave Oakland with fewer weapons to target one of Drake and Gore. This is a week where I would expect much better rushing numbers than we have seen so far in 2018.
Anyone Else Worth Owning Right Now
Coming into Week 3, it looks like the most ownable assets on the Dolphins are Kenyan Drake, Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker. Oakland isn’t particularly vulnerable to the Tight End position, so I wouldn’t expect fantasy relevance from A.J. Derby or Mike Gesicki in this game. Ryan Tannehill will once again be tasked with not losing, which means he is effectively unownable in anything but the deepest of leagues. The Dolphins Defense lines up well against Oakland and should be considered a streaming option. Aside from that, don’t bank too heavily on Miami helping you this Sunday.