Kickoff: Sunday, October 23 at 8:20 PM ET
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Betting Odds: MIA -7, 45 Total on Oddshark
Writer: Drew DeLuca (@DrewDeLaware on Twitter)
Kenny Pickett (Sit), Mitchell Trubisky (Sit)
A concussion forced Kenny Pickett to the sideline in last week’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bringing Mitchell Trubisky back into the fold. Trubisky was impressive in relief, completing 9-of-12 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. However, head coach Mike Tomlin has made it clear that Pickett will retain the starter’s role. The rookie managed to log a full, unlimited practice on Wednesday, an indicator that he’s likely to clear the concussion protocol sooner rather than later.
Per FantasyPros, only five teams have been more generous to opposing fantasy quarterbacks than the Miami Dolphins to date. Pickett has played well for a rookie so far, and he’s capable of putting up solid numbers in Week 7 with an impressive cadre of downfield mercenaries at his disposal. However, he also carries a significant degree of risk, so he’s not a “start” for the faint of heart. There are worse desperation plays, but fantasy managers will likely have better options to choose from, even in Superflex formats.
Najee Harris (Start, RB2), Jaylen Warren (Sit), Benny Snell (Sit)
Najee Harris has been a bit of a disappointment to fantasy managers this season, in part due to his lack of usage in the passing game. Harris has averaged only 3.0 targets per game through six weeks, though he did manage to notch his first touchdown catch of the season in Week 5. Harris, who played through a foot injury in the preseason, has suffered from subpar rushing efficiency, as well. His yards per attempt average has dropped from 3.9 to an abysmal 3.2 in his sophomore season.
Here’s the death knell for Harris’ fantasy managers: Harris, beloved for his status as one of the league’s few remaining “volume backs,” has logged more than 15 carries only once so far this season. Add it all up, and Harris is not even close to performing like the late first-round pick he was drafted to be.
The 24-year-old Alabama product is currently the RB22 in 2022, and with Jaylen Warren seeing snap shares north of 25 percent in all but one game this season, the signs of a turnaround from Harris are nearly non-existent. Harris should post RB2 numbers against a defense that has been weaker than average against fantasy running backs so far this season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Diontae Johnson (Start, WR2), George Pickens (Sit), Chase Claypool (Sit, Flex), Pat Freiermuth (Sit), Zach Gentry (Sit)
Earlier this week, details of a Week 4 halftime dust-up between Trubisky and star wide receiver Diontae Johnson emerged and made headlines. It’s all water under the bridge to Johnson, who remains the Steelers’ WR1, evidenced by the fact that he leads all Steelers wide receivers in snaps played. More importantly, Johnson has seen more targets (57) than both Chase Claypool (36) and George Pickens (35) to date.
While much is being made of the emerging Pickett-to-Pickens connection, there’s no doubting who’s the lead dog in the passing game. Johnson is the only Steelers wide receiver to draw ten or more targets in a game, something he has done four times in six games. Pickens makes a solid WR3 assuming Pickett plays. Claypool, despite a respectable Week 5 performance, isn’t worthy of anything more than flex consideration on a team riddled with injuries and players on bye.
At the tight end position, Pat Freiermuth was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, which bodes well for his chances to suit up on Sunday night. Zach Gentry, who has played 60 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps over the last three weeks, should continue to be a non-factor in fantasy circles. Expect Freiermuth to produce as a TE2 this week; we’re not as optimistic as some, given his recent injury.
Tua Tagovailoa (Start, QB1), Teddy Bridgewater (Sit), Skylar Thompson (Sit)
The Steelers are one of the more generous defenses in terms of points allowed to fantasy quarterbacks, ranking seventh-worst in this metric. This is music to the ears of patient fantasy managers who held onto shares of Tua Tagovailoa after a couple of scary hits that landed him in the trainer’s room, hospital, and ultimately, the league’s concussion protocol. Tagovailoa is expected to return to the Dolphins’ huddle this week, where he’ll enjoy the full complement of a healthy receiving corps. Expect Tua to finish as a low-end QB1 this week while Skylar Thompson and Teddy Bridgewater revert to backup roles.
Raheem Mostert (Start, Flex), Chase Edmonds (Start, Flex), Myles Gaskin (Sit)
What a mess this backfield has become. Chase Edmonds was the clear-cut lead back for the Dolphins in Week 1, but he took a back seat to Raheem Mostert in recent weeks due to fumbling concerns and ineffectiveness. Myles Gaskin leapfrogged Edmonds as Mostert’s backup entering Week 6, and…oh wait, just kidding, Gaskin was a healthy scratch instead.
Now, we’re scratching *our* heads, and we’re generally avoiding this backfield until the landscape becomes more predictable. The only player in this bunch we can recommend is Mostert, who has played more than half of the Dolphins’ offensive snaps in each of the team’s last five games. He was unimpressive last week, but he’s amassed 15 or more touches in each of his previous three contests. At the very least, consider Mostert as flex-worthy in a bye week that takes several key running backs out of play.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tyreek Hill (Start, WR1), Jaylen Waddle (Start, WR2), Trent Sherfield (Sit), Cedric Wilson (Sit), Mike Gesicki (Sit, TE2), Durham Smythe (Sit)
Under Tagovailoa, the Dolphins had one of the more concentrated target share distributions of any team in the league. Tyreek Hill continues to boast an insane TPPR (targets per route run) percentage of 34 percent, a mark that leads the league. Across the field, Jaylen Waddle had disappeared of late, but posted his third 100-yard day in six weeks, thanks to a healthy diet of 10 targets. Look for him to be once again featured heavily in Miami’s passing attack this week.
Meanwhile, we don’t expect much from Cedric Wilson or Trent Sherfield, who have compiled only 11 catches between them over the past five weeks, mostly from Sherfield. Penn State product Mike Gesicki finally busted out in Week 6, but we lack confidence in his ability to repeat that feat in back-to-back weeks, given the expected target inconsistency going forward. After all, Gesicki saw his snap count hit its high-water mark of the season in Week 6 in large part due to the absence of Durham Smythe; the latter logged a snap share of 49 percent or higher in each of his five games before sitting out in Week 6.