Fantasy Fins: Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick not a bad start against struggling Dolphins D

Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball against the Miami Dolphins during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 13, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Awful. Horrible. Atrocious. Catastrophic. Historically bad.

These terms were all used to describe the Miami Dolphins defense in the team’s Monday night loss in Carolina. And those were the kinder words we could actually publish.

Not only did Matt Burke’s unit give up 45 points to Cam Newton and company, but they allowed the Panthers to convert an astounding 79 percent of their third downs, allowed 548 yards of total offense (second-most in the league this season, a total that included 294 rushing yards) and allowed five straight touchdown drives at one point.

Pretty embarrassing for a defense that includes names like Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Lawrence Timmons and Rey Maualuga.

Five hundred plus? That’s a damn lot,” Maualuga said Sunday night after being told about the Panthers’ yardage numbers. “That’s a lot. You see the guys that’s on this defense and there’s no way we should give up 350, let alone 400, let alone whatever you said it was.”

Fantasy football players would agree. And the keenest fantasy football players would take note.

“Why?” you ask.

You should care because it’s not a bad idea to consider picking up and starting opposing players set to face Miami’s porous defense.

It’s one of those unwritten axioms of fantasy football, like handcuffing (picking up a big-time running back’s backup in case the starter gets injured), never drafting a kicker until the final round or never owning anyone from the Cleveland Browns.

Paying attention to your fantasy players’ opponents can be vitally important, whether you’re trying to decide which player to start in a given week — e.g., player A and player B are equally good, but you can only start one; so start the one who’s playing a weaker opponent — or you’re taking a flier on a waiver-wire pick-up to help as an injury replacement or during a bye week.

Say you had Aaron Rodgers as your starting quarterback. He goes down injured, so you pick up local guy Jacoby Brissett of the Colts. Indianapolis is on a bye this week, so you’re left with a bunch of rough-looking options on the waiver wire.

You’re trying to decide between, say, Brett Hundley of the Packers and Fitzpatrick, who is starting for Tampa Bay in place of Jameis Winston. Hundley has been OK in recent weeks, but he’s facing the Ravens, who (according to Yahoo) have given up the second fewest total of fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick is going against the Fins, who, let’s not forget, gave up approximately 7,000 yards and 18 touchdowns to the Panthers on Monday.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws to an open receiver during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the New York Jets on November 12, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Yes, the Harvard alum — did you know Fitzpatrick went to Harvard?!?! — is just a long-time backup and is owned in just nine percent of Yahoo leagues, but pit him against Miami and all of a sudden he’s looking like a halfway decent play on Sunday.

The old “Start them against the Dolphins!” trick isn’t likely to be in play for other Buccaneers skill players, as running back Doug Martin, wide receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson and even tight end Cameron Brate are already claimed in most leagues.

But Fitzpatrick has some major weapons at his disposal, and he will get ample opportunity to air it out Sunday at Hard Rock. He’s no Aaron Rodgers, but late in a season chock full of season-altering injuries, he could put up solid numbers against the Dolphins.

So could plenty of other opposing players in subsequent weeks.

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