Panthers @ Dolphins
Final Score: Dolphins 33, Panthers 10
Writer: Matthew Bevins (@MattQBList on Twitter, /u/TheLongSpring on Reddit)
In Week 12, we were given two underachieving squads facing off in Miami with each one hoping to sneak their way into one of the final playoff spots. While the Dolphins look to be glowing up from a much-needed makeover, Carolina is becoming a team hamstrung by their premium talent being injured over the past few weeks. Christian McCaffrey still had not been fully redeployed after returning from injury and he sustained yet another one in this game and was seen in a walking boot afterward. Cam Newton looked completely lost and the Panthers’ playoff chances are suddenly in very deep water.
Cam Newton: 5/21, 92 yards, 2 INT | 3 carries, 5 yards, TD
P.J. Walker: 5/10, 87 yards, INT
The quarterback crisis seemed to be solved for two weeks, the same two weeks that Cam Newton started after Sam Darnold was placed on injured reserve, and it looked like the same old Cam might drum up some Superman magic and lead the Panthers to the playoffs. How quickly those dreams of comfort were dashed, as Cam looked disjointed from the very first drive, overthrowing passes and missing some opportunity, before somehow finding the end zone on a short option play.
After that drive, the wheels proverbially “Fell off”. Cam finished his day with as many competitions as his backup P.J Walker had, who took over near the end of the third quarter. Cam had zero touch on his passes, and at times looked completely outclassed in a game where the Dolphins wanted to make teams aware they were far better than their 4-7 record entailed. Nothing noteworthy came by watching P.J Walker take over the snaps, but it did tell us that the leash for Cam’s job may be shorter than we anticipated. Cam’s overall line could have looked even worse if a rushing touchdown hadn’t been salvaged on that first drive.
Christian McCaffrey: 10 rushes, 35 yards | 1 target
Chuba Hubbard: 2 rushes, 6 yards | 1 target
Ameer Abdullah: 2 rushes, 4 yards | 6 targets, 2 receptions, 20 yards
Christian McCaffrey came into the week looking to be back on the upswing after showing off in their past two games (160 plus all-purpose yards against Arizona, 150 plus all-purpose yards against Washington), but it looks like it may not be the happiest ending for him yet again. Watching this game, the announcers and sideline reporters shrouded Christian’s status either with tact or general confusion, until it was mentioned post-game he had rolled his ankle. Either way, he looked hampered on his carries all game long. Was it a sign of the game plan exposed early by Cam’s poor passing and drive situations? Or was Christian under 100 percent going into the game and the decoy option backfired, reinjuring himself in the process? We don’t know for sure, but he didn’t look right in this game. Keeping Chuba Hubbard on the radar may again be a thing for any of us who are desperately fighting for the bottom rungs of fantasy football playoff seeding, and with Ameer Abdullah seeing almost a fifth of the targets in the passing game, he’s more than deserving of being on your watch list if McCaffrey sits more games this season.
D.J. Moore: 10 targets, 4 receptions, 103 yards
Brandon Zylstra: 2 targets, 1 reception, 24 yards
Robby Anderson: 4 targets, 1 reception, 15 yards
Alex Erickson: 1 target, 1 reception, 13 yards
Tommy Tremble: 3 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards
Ian Thomas: 3 targets
The wide receiving crew of the Carolina Panthers was both plagued by drops and general poor quarterback play throughout this whole matchup. Miami’s defense was confident and stifling early and often, and after the first drive of the game, the Panthers seemed to be there only in spirit for the remainder of this game. D.J. Moore is a top 10 WR from potential/ceiling alone, but the poor quarterback play and inconsistent health of their best offensive weapon leave Moore on a bit of an island fantasy-wise. The first drive had him involved for a 64-yard reception where he broke out and almost converted it into a touchdown, but from that point forward, he, much like the rest of the offense wasn’t able to do much. Robby Anderson saw the second-most targets, and unfortunately, two of the better receivers in the league may simply be hamstrung by poor quarterback play for the remainder of the season. Before he went to injured reserve, Darnold was quickly reverting back into a football pumpkin, and the team was likely looking for internal resolutions. While Cam may still end up finding Moore and Anderson on breakout plays due to player route running or poor defending, this is a slightly worrisome thing to see when many are just weeks from fantasy playoffs.
Tua Tagovailoa: 27/31, TD | 4 carries, 0 yards
For someone who finished their game out with 27 completions on 31 attempts, Tua Tagovailoa didn’t really do anything spectacular besides avoiding plays that would lose him the game. Sometimes, however, that’s all you need. His quarterback rating was under 50, which is an insane thing to see with such a high competition rate. Tua relied early and often on Jaylen Waddle, and Waddle repaid him in kind from the get-go. The second-year quarterback to rookie WR connection is easily one of the most exciting dynasty pairings to have. Waddle was able to catch passes from inside the hashes on a consistent basis, but also has the ability to go up the ladder. Just a few minutes into the second quarter, Waddle caught an absolute laser in the middle of the field. Tua almost salvaged his fantasy line a bit more with an Isaiah Ford end zone throw that zipped through the receiver’s hands. It’s Waddle season, and all of us are just living in it.
The rookie with his 5th of the season🚀
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 28, 2021
Myles Gaskin: 16 carries, 49 yards, 2 TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 3 yards
Phillip Lindsay: 12 carries, 42 yards
Salvon Ahmed: 5 carries, 17 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yard
Myles Gaskin is again the direct product of a team in desperate need of short-yardage rushers with not much else going on for it other than the defense on the rise and the Jaylen Waddle renaissance. With under 50 yards on 16 carries, Gaskin looked stymied by a Panthers defense/team that couldn’t do much right, but the ability to find an extra yard or two while in the red zone is something that will likely keep some teams on the brink of fantasy playoff elimination alive.
Gaskin was someone I was more excited about last year, as his potential was something that intrigued me, but there doesn’t seem to be a break out in tow. He doesn’t get to the next level or punch any struggling defenses in the face; he’s more of a touchdown-dependent receiving back who barely gets any targets. That remained the case on Sunday as he finally put up his second straight double-digit PPR output, but it’s still puzzling. What do we do here? It’s such a tough line to walk, as his two short-yardage touchdown bursts saved his line, but watching this game showed he may be more overvalued in the fantasy realm.
Phillip Lindsay was picked up off the scrap heap this week and still managed just four fewer carries than Gaskin. This could be an even more worrying event to see than we expected. To see someone come off the free agency pile, pass through waivers, and immediately almost eclipse a starting back, Gaskin managers may need to wipe their brow and head to the waiver wire for Lindsay on Tuesday. Lindsay didn’t do anything that stood out, but he still is a two-time 1000 yard rusher that is still on the right side of 30.
GASKIN GETS IN AGAIN🐬
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 28, 2021
Jaylen Waddle: 10 targets, 9 receptions, 137 yards, TD
Durham Smythe: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 32 yards
Mike Gesecki: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 17 yards
Albert Wilson: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 17 yards
Isaiah Ford: 2 targets, 1 reception, 11 yards
Preston Williams: 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards
Mack Hollins: 1 target, 0 receptions
The Dolphins’ offense was almost entirely run through the energizer bunny that is Jaylen Waddle, as he was able to take down the Panthers’ defense just a few minutes into the second half for a touchdown over the middle, going up the ladder for a ball between two closing in defenders. Waddle mostly attacked in the first half, but the remainder of the game was mostly playing keep away from the Panthers and allowing Cam to shoot the Panthers’ proverbial toe off. Durham Smythe looked to be a better version of Mike Gesecki, if even just for a single week, and this is slightly worrisome for Gesecki managers who continue to be teased by big games only to then be disappointed each of the next few weeks. Smythe is clearly gaining favor with the Dolphins’ coaching staff for his ability to both block and play close to the line, and almost every play that ended up with a big-bodied tight end you’d think would be Gesecki, Smythe’s name was called. You’re likely looking at a whole lot of meh and Waddle from this offense, at the very least until Gesecki finds a magic rock to wish on, or the return of Devante Parker helps pull some coverage off the top of this offense.
— Matthew Bevins (@MattQBList on Twitter, /u/TheLongSpring on Reddit)