Kickoff: Sunday, December 20th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
Betting Odds: MIA -2.5, 41.5 Total on Oddsshark
New England Patriots
Cam Newton (Sit)
Cam Newton threw for over 100 yards last week, which was the most he has in the past three weeks. His entire fantasy viability comes down to whether he scores rushing touchdowns. The Miami defense has only allowed three QB1 performances against them and with the way this offense has been performing, I don’t see that changing. The Dolphins are much weaker against the run than the pass (ranked 23rd against the run by Football Outsiders), but the Patriots will struggle to sustain long enough drives to get into scoring range if Newton can’t pass. He is only ranked 28th in the league in Ben Baldwin’s (of the Athletic) composite EPA+CPOE quarterback statistic. I would look to another option for your semi-finals.
Damien Harris (Start, Flex)
Damien Harris has been a strong runner. He is 14th in the NFL in DYAR (per Football Outsiders). That has translated into so usable fantasy performances but he has yet to ever really hit a ceiling game. That is due to his real lack of pass-catching role and Cam Newton’s strangle on the rushing touchdowns. Harris does not have a single touch on third downs this season and if the Patriots get behind, he could be scripted out. Harris will need to do his damage early in the game and hope for a score.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jakobi Meyers (Sit)
The Patriots have not produced a WR2 performance since Week 11. Jakobi Meyers has been the most consistent receiver on the team but he needs target volume to produce anything worthwhile for fantasy. Newton has just not been able to support any of these receivers lately. I would be avoiding all of them.
Tua Tagovailoa (Sit)
Tua Tagovailoa is coming off the best performance of his young career. He threw 48 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns. He is still only 25th in the NFL in Ben Baldwin’s (of the Athletic) EPA+CPOE statistic and unfortunately, I think we are now going to see one of Tagovailoa’s worst performances of his rookie year next. Everyone has heard of Bill Belichick’s ability to completely shut down rookie QBs and you only have to look at Justin Herbert’s performance from a few weeks ago. On top of that, the Patriots are a low scoring team, and the total via Oddshark is one of the lowest of the week. The Dolphins will not be pushed to score points and score them fast like last week against the Chiefs. I would look elsewhere if you are streaming in the playoffs.
DeAndre Washington (Sit)
Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida are on the Covid list and both will need to sit out again this week. Salvon Ahmed injured his shoulder and was inactive last week, leaving DeAndre Washington as the lead back for the Dolphins. We do not have any updates on Ahmed currently, so we must consider Washington as the main RB for the Dolphins this week as well. Washington handled 13 touches for 52 total yards last week and split the snaps with Patrick Laird. Washington at best can be a flex this week, but I would not force him into your lineups.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Lynn Bowden Jr. (Start, Flex)
DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant both left last week’s game with hamstring injuries. Mike Gesicki then led the receiving group with six targets for five catches, 52 yards, and two touchdowns. Then Gesicki was helped off the field with a shoulder injury. Lynn Bowden Jr. then became the focal point of the Dolphins’ passing attack and they didn’t slow down. Bowden had nine targets for seven catches and 82 yards. Bowden has a wide range of skills that the Dolphins want to use. He played snaps at WR, RB, and one at QB last week. He has also been the leader in slot snaps for the Dolphins the past two weeks. If all of Parker, Grant, and Gesicki are out (and we have no updates), I think Bowden can be a solid flex option as the focal point of the offense.
-Frank Costanzo (@FrankQBList on Twitter, Zzzonked92 on Reddit)