Dolphins @ Broncos
The Broncos two-headed RB monster ran all over Miami’s weak front seven, and the two-headed QB monster of Tua Tagovailoa and (yes!) Ryan Fitzpatrick only combined for 167 yards through the air. So this was a blowout, right? Nope! Miami kept it close throughout with key stops and a little turnover luck here and there, leading to a late 4th quarter drive with a chance to win. Unfortunately, Fitzmagic threw a bad interception in the endzone, and Denver sealed a 20-13 win in this one.
Tua Tagovailoa: 11/20, 83 yards, 1 TD, 6 sacks
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 12/18, 117 yards, 1 INT | 2 carries, 6 yards
Well this is an interesting development! Tua was pulled midway after the 4th quarter after taking a low hit on a 3rd down sack by Bradley Chubb on the previous drive. He ran off the field under his own power and didn’t immediately look like he was hobbling, but it wasn’t until after the game when Head Coach Brian Flores confirmed that Tua was pulled due to poor performance. That makes more sense, because while he wasn’t entirely terrible on the day, his stat line looked too much like a Josh Rosen line. He threw one touchdown on the day, a jump ball to DeVante Parker on the first drive of the game, but he shouldn’t have even had that one; He made a really bad decision just a few plays earlier, throwing into traffic and getting intercepted, but he was bailed out by a ticky-tack defensive holding penalty.
There really wasn’t much good to talk about with Tua on Sunday. He had a couple nice throws on third down, but he was sacked six times and was unable to avoid a few in key situations. He looked like a rookie, which is to be expected from time to time, but it still was a bit of a surprise that he was eventually pulled for Fitzpatrick.
Speaking of Fitzpatrick, he came into the game midway through the fourth and immediately drove the team down the field for a field goal. He had a nice touch pass to Mike Gesicki for a third-down conversion, but also nearly threw an interception just a few plays later on a ball that was way behind the receiver.
On their next drive, with time running out, Fitzpatrick once again drove Miami down the field and put them in a position to score. The drive was helped by a helmet-to-helmet unnecessary roughness penalty as Fitzpatrick slid for a first down, and while it wasn’t a dirty play it was certainly the type of play the league is trying to get out of the game. He was nearly intercepted in the end zone on a miscommunication with Gesicki, where Fitzpatrick threw it under the defender but Gesicki went behind him, and the defender simply couldn’t come up with it. Two plays later, Justin Simmons made a great defensive play to read Fitzpatrick’s eyes and jump in front of Parker for the game-sealing interception.
It certainly wasn’t the ending Flores, Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins wanted, but pulling Tua was exactly the right move for a team that finds themselves in the playoff hunt. It was very clear that Fitzpatrick has a much better understanding of the offense at this point, and that his chemistry with their receiving corps does give Miami the best chance to win on a weekly basis. Flores has already said that Tua will start in Week 12, but I’m willing to bet this isn’t the last we’ll see of Fitzpatrick this season.
Salvon Ahmed: 12 carries, 43 yards | 6 targets, 5 receptions, 31 yards
Matt Breida: 2 carries, 4 yards
It was great to see Salvon Ahmed get six targets this week, and his five catches helped salvage a rather pedestrian day on the ground. He showed good burst on a run that he bounced outside, picking up a first down as he outran two defenders. He did have a drop, but it was in his best interest to do so because he would have gotten lit up by a defender had he caught the ball. He did briefly leave this game with a shoulder injury, and later took a vicious hit to his shoulder that had me worried, but he popped right up and showed some toughness. I like what I saw out of him.
salvon ahmed is back pic.twitter.com/g3OQ30GlJ2
— josh houtz (@houtz) November 22, 2020
Two things became clear in this game: First, the Dolphins’ offensive line simply cannot open up running lanes even against average defensive fronts, and will struggle to do so for the rest of the season. Second, Matt Breida is no threat to Ahmed in this backfield, so if Ahmed is still available in your league it’s time to snatch him up.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
DeVante Parker: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 61 yards, 1 TD
Mike Gesicki: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 43 yards
Jakeem Grant: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards | 1 carry, 3 yards
Malcolm Perry: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 23 yards
DeVante Parker is a beast, and he proved on Sunday that he can produce regardless of who is under center for Miami. He went up to get a touchdown over A.J. Bouye, making a nice catch and toe-tapping to get his feet in as he fell out of bounds.
Incredible toe tap by DeVante Parker for a touchdown.pic.twitter.com/nmfl0Tum0s
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) November 22, 2020
He also caught two third-down passes on a drive in the 2nd quarter, with one of them being a really nice diving play on a well-thrown ball from Tua, and was targeted in the end zone on Fitzpatrick’s interception. It would be nice to see some more consistency from Parker this season, but I’d feel comfortable with him as my WR2 for the rest of this year.
Nobody else really popped in this game, though it was nice to see Mike Gesicki get involved with four catches and some key targets late. I do want to point out Malcolm Perry‘s performance, as he’s a player Miami liked a lot in camp and he was targeted four times on the final drive. The former Navy quarterback converted to receiver for the NFL and is quick with good feet, getting good separation on a couple of his catches. If he starts getting more volume in the coming weeks he might be worth a flier in deeper leagues.
Drew Lock: 18/30, 270 yards, 1 INT | 2 carries, 23 yards
The box score doesn’t really jump out at you, but Drew Lock had a pretty decent game considering how banged up he was coming into it. He threw a bad interception on their first drive of the game, allowing Xavien Howard to read his eyes the entire time. The mistake led to a Dolphins’ touchdown. This has been a recurring issue for Lock this year, where he’s unable to look off a defender prior to fitting in a tight throw. It is worth noting that an official was injured during the Dolphins’ celebration after the play, and therefore the crew was down a man for the rest of the game. It didn’t make too much of a difference.
It seemed like the Broncos were converting a third-down every time I looked up, especially on their scoring drive in the 1st quarter. Lock converted a third-down through the air and with his legs, and while they were the only two on the drive (and only two of the four in the game), they were absolutely key spots on a scoring drive that included back to back false start penalties. I continue to be impressed by Lock’s ability to convert on third downs, and if he can cut down on the unforced errors there is something here.
Melvin Gordon III: 15 carries, 84 yards, 2 TDs, 1 fumble
Phillip Lindsay: 16 carries, 82 yards
Both Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay impressed on Sunday, as they both averaged over five yards per carry against an improved Miami defense, however neither back was targeted on the day. Lindsay had a nice 20 yard run on Denver’s 1st quarter scoring drive but Gordon was the one who got into the end zone twice. His first came on a one-yard run, just one play after Nick Vannett took the ball down to the one and nearly scored himself, while his second came on 20-yard run in the third quarter.
— NFL (@NFL) November 22, 2020
His lone mistake came with 5:47 left in the game, as he scampered for 9 yards towards the end zone but had the ball knocked out of his hands at the one yard line on a nice play by defender Andrew Van Ginkel. Gordon tried to do too much and, while up seven with under six minutes to play, he should have just gone down without putting up a fight.
Melvin Gordon fumbles at the 1. He isn't good enough to be fumbling this much.
Already his 4th fumble on the season. pic.twitter.com/1vjoXviRPC
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 22, 2020
Either way, fantasy managers have to be happy with his output on the day.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tim Patrick: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 119 yards
Jerry Jeudy: 8 targets, 3 receptions, 37 yards
Noah Fant: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 55 yards
Nick Vannett: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards
KJ Hamler: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 35 yards
Tim Patrick‘s big day wasn’t really that big if you take out his ridiculous 61-yard catch on the final play of the game when Lock was seemingly trying to throw the ball away as time expired. I don’t think Lock intended for the ball to remain in play, as it could have easily been intercepted, but Patrick caught it and nearly brought it to the house in what would have been an all-time bad beat. Besides that, it was a pedestrian day, though he did have a nice 41-yard catch and run on a seam rout early in the 2nd quarter that helped lead to a field goal.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 22, 2020
Jerry Jeudy caught only three of his eight targets in what was a disappointing day for the young rookie, but it is promising that he still tied for the team lead in targets. I’m not sure if Xavien Howard shadowed him all day, but I did see him in Jeudy’s area a few times and that could help explain why he wasn’t more productive.
Noah Fant really gutted it out in this one. He was clearly still hobbled by his ankle injury but still made an impact on the game. When he gets back to full health, look out.
— Ben Brown (@FelixTheDog23 on Twitter, iamatechnician on Reddit)