Kickoff: Sunday, September 12th at 4:25 PM ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
Betting Odds: NE -1.5, 46.5 Total on Oddsshark
Tua Tagovailoa (Sit)
I’m quite high on Tua Tagovailoa compared to the consensus this season, and he faces an overall soft schedule. This week isn’t it, though. As we’ll get to, Will Fuller V is out for the game due to suspension, which already puts the offense at a disadvantage. As you can guess by the low point total, this is projected to be a low-scoring, defensive grudge match, as opposed to a shootout. The Patriots gave up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last year, and it’s always hard to fade Bill Belichick. If you drafted Tagovailoa, you did so more for a high-upside backup to start with specific matchups than a locked-in starter. With that in mind, feel free keeping him on your bench this week.
Myles Gaskin (Start, FLEX), Malcolm Brown (Sit), Salvon Ahmed (Sit)
The Dolphins’ running back situation is quite frustrating right now, and I’m excited to get much more clarity about it this season. Myles Gaskin was used as a three-down back last year, but there are several reports suggesting it’ll be more of a committee approach this year. If this is a low-scoring game, Malcolm Brown, likely the team’s short-yardage/goal-line back, holds very little appeal. Gaskin, though, is an interesting FLEX option this week. There isn’t enough clarity about his usage in a low-scoring game to start him with confidence, but what if his role from last year remained unchanged. He ranked in the top-ten in expected fantasy points per game, per PFF, last year, and there’s a chance his role remains very similar. Unless your roster has significant depth, that might be worth taking a chance on.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Jaylen Waddle (Sit), DeVante Parker (Sit), Preston Williams (Sit), Mike Gesicki (Sit)
I’m not expecting a lot of passing effectiveness here. The target shares of all of these players will be higher without Will Fuller V, but that might be cancelled out by limited efficiency. I believe Waddle is currently undervalued based on his average draft position in drafts; chase the draft capital (sixth overall pick), as well as the big-play efficiency he had at Alabama. This isn’t the week to start him, though, unless you’re in two-FLEX leagues. Mike Gesicki is the one to consider starting, yet he suffers from the same fate as the rest of Miami’s pass catchers; the Patriots being fifth-best against tight ends last year doesn’t help his case either.
New England Patriots
Mac Jones (Sit)
There isn’t much to suggest that Mac Jones will be a quarterback to start at any point of the year. With under 200 rushing yards at Alabama, he’s the type of low-risk pocket passer that provides us with little joy in terms of fantasy excitement. Oh, and did I mention this a rookie making his first career start in a game without many projected points? Don’t do it, folks?
Damien Harris (Start, RB2), James White (Sit)
With Jones inserted for Cam Newton, this could be the time to shine for Damien Harris. You can read about the entire new-look Patriots offense here, but the quick blurb on Harris is: there are 22 red-zone attempts and over 100 rush attempts from Newton that are now vacated. Harris averaged five yards/attempt and earned a 90.3 PFF grade, and is poised to get a lot of work on the ground this year. In Jones’ first start, this profiles as the type of game where that’ll happen. As for James White, he was a top-25 running back in 2019 based on his passing game work with Tom Brady. This will likely be a run-heavy game script, though, and we don’t yet know how much Jones will target White. Harris benefits from this type of game, but that isn’t quite the case with White.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Jakobi Meyers (Sit), Nelson Agholor (Sit), Kendrick Bourne (Sit), Hunter Henry (Sit), Jonnu Smith (Sit)
I’m sorry for all the “sits”, I promise! This is what happens, though, with a low-scoring game. In two-receiver sets, Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor face less competition for targets theoretically, yet, even then, weren’t drafted as top-50 receivers this offseason. Thus, it wouldn’t appear to make sense to start them this week. It will be fun to see how the competition for targets between Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith falls. I believe Jones’ skillset meshes better with Henry’s in terms of Jones’ target depth, but until we get better clarity on the situation, it’s hard to start them against the defense that allowed the seventh-lowest fantasy points to tight ends last year.