Not many people would look at a matchup like 4-6 Miami at 8-2 New England this weekend and think excitedly, “Oooooh, which Dolphins should I put in my fantasy lineup?!?!”
No, Sunday’s Week 12 matchup could well get ugly. Not only do the Fins hold just a 10-22 record against the Patriots in the Tom Brady era, but this game also features arguably the league’s best offense (New England) against a defense that has struggled mightily of late (Miami).
Miami’s offense has been barren, too — 30th in the NFL in total offense and 31st in scoring offense. But don’t rule out the possibility of a positive fantasy impact, particularly from the Dolphins’ wide-receiver crew of Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker.
Landry (67 receptions, 567 yards, 6 TDs), Stills (40/588/5) and Parker (34/404/1) have all had moderately successful seasons, whether it’s Jay Cutler or Matt Moore throwing to them. And with Moore set to get the start under center, it’s reasonable to think that they’ll all see their fair share of the ball against the Patriots’ worst-in-the-league pass defense.
Everyone knows that Landry, who turns 25 on Tuesday, holds the NFL record for the most receptions through the first four seasons of his career with 355 and counting. At this rate, he’s projected to catch 107 passes this season — just shy of his career-best 110 in 2015 — for 907 yards, and he has already set a career best with those six touchdown grabs.
Stills is coming off a career-high 180 yards on seven catches in last week’s loss to the Buccaneers, including a season-long 61-yard touchdown grab from Moore. He remains the team’s big-play threat with a team-best 14.7 yards per reception.
Parker is the one piece of the trio that hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this season. Despite a preseason in which he was touted as one of the NFL’s breakout talents, the soft-spoken third-year wideout missed several games due to injury and has disappeared for parts of others, causing offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen to say recently that Parker “doesn’t have the edge that he had coming out of training camp.”
Which of the three is most likely to do it against the defending Super Bowl champs? It’s tough to say. Landry is the safest bet, particularly in PPR leagues (given his 10.8 targets per game), but also because he’s become more of a red-zone target this season. Stills remains more likely to break off a huge gain, and Parker’s size makes him a dangerous target on downfield alley-oop passes. In short, there’s reason to believe all three will contribute.
And against a New England unit giving up 282 passing yards a game — including 300-plus yards to such QB luminaries as Alex Smith and Josh McCown — expect Moore to get plenty of opportunities to air it out, even if many of those opportunities come in garbage time.
Over their last four games, all losses, the Dolphins have given up an average of 35.5 points and scored just 16.25. So it stands to reason, especially on the road, that Miami could get down early, forcing Moore into even more passing situations.
It may not be pretty for Miami in Foxborough, but win or lose, Matt Moore will be slinging the ball all over Gillette Stadium. And these will be the guys he’s aiming for.