Miami Dolphins (8-7, 8-6-1 ATS) at Tennessee Titans (10-5, 9-6), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Dolphins Stats and Trends
The Dolphins control their own destiny to make the playoffs after vaulting into the No. 7 spot with a victory over the Saints on Monday Night Football in Week 16.
They’re one of the hottest teams in the league with a seven-game winning streak and a 6-1 ATS mark heading into their final two games of the season against the Titans and Patriots.
Tua Tagovailoa has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in consecutive games after finishing with 198/1 passing against the Saints last week, and he hasn’t reached 20+ FP since Week 7. Jimmy Garoppolo posted 322/1 passing for 15.2 FP in this matchup last week, and the Titans are giving up the 10th-most FPG (18.9) to QBs this season.
Jaylen Waddle is just six catches away from breaking Anquan Boldin’s rookie record of 101 catches after hanging 10/92/1 receiving on 12 targets against the Saints last week. He’s now posted 7+ catches in seven of his last nine games, and he’s finished with 18+ FP in four straight contests with 90+ yards in his last three. Deebo Samuel ripped the Titans for 9/159 receiving and 5/32 rushing in this matchup last week.
DeVante Parker is coming off a goose egg against the Saints as he didn’t even see a target despite being covered mostly by Paulson Adebo and not Marshon Lattimore. Parker had 4+ catches in each of his first six games with 60+ yards in four straight contests before last week’s dud. Brandon Aiyuk posted 4/40/1 receiving on five targets in this matchup last week.
Mike Gesicki has just two touchdowns this season and he hasn’t scored since Week 7. He has 3+ catches in 13-of-15 games this season, but he’s reached double-digit FP twice in his last eight games. George Kittle was a non-factor in this matchup last week with 2/21 receiving on three targets, and Tyler Higbee was the last TE to reach double-digit FP the Titans back in Week 9.
The Dolphins’ backfield is a complete mess with Duke Johnson leading the way with 23 snaps, followed by Myles Gaskin (20) and Phillip Lindsay (19). They combined for 29/85 rushing (2.9 YPC) and 1/6 receiving against the Saints, and they get another tough RB matchup this week. The Titans are giving up just 3.7 YPC and the second-fewest rushing yards per game (64.1) to RBs.
Brolley’s Titans Stats and Trends
The Titans own a 2-4 ATS mark in their last six games.
Tennessee is 5-2 ATS in its last seven home games.
The Titans are 4-1 toward unders in their last five contests.
The 49ers outgained the Titans by 1.9 yards per play (6.7 to 4.8) but Jimmy Garoppolo handed the Titans the victory on a silver platter with two back-breaking INTs.
Ryan Tannehill hasn’t reached 19+ FP in seven straight games, and he’s fallen below 215 passing yards in six of his last seven games since Derrick Henry left the lineup. At least he averaged 7.2 YPA with A.J. Brown returning to the lineup last week, which was his best mark since Week 10. The Dolphins are giving up the seventh-fewest FPG (17.1) to QBs this season, but they haven’t been tested much in the second half of the season,
A.J. Brown didn’t skip a beat in his return to action after a month-long absence for a chest injury, and he took this struggling Titans’ offense on his broad shoulders. He demonstrated why he was a second-round fantasy pick this summer with 11/145/1 receiving on a ridiculous 55% target share (16) to carry the Titans to a victory over the 49ers in Week 16, which all but wrapped up the AFC South title. It’s been a turbulent fantasy season for Brown’s owners and most of them didn’t make it to the fantasy finals, but he has the chance to bring home some titles if you’ve survived without him.
The Titans’ backfield is almost as messy as the Dolphins’ backfield. Jeremy McNichols led the group with 26 snaps followed by D’Onta Foreman (21) and Dontrell Hilliard (13). Foreman scored a goal-line touchdown but, otherwise, this group flopped with just 21/68/1 rushing and 2/-6 receiving in a tough matchup with the 49ers. The Titans are three-point home favorites this week so Foreman could get a little more work as the team’s lead runner after playing a negative gamescript for much of last week. The Dolphins are giving up 4.3 YPC but just the third-fewest FPG (20.0) to RBs this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27 (20th)
Plays per game: 67.1 (3rd)
Pass: 55.7% (24th) | Run: 44.3% (9th)
Pace: 27.5 (22nd)
Plays per game: 65.7 (8th)
Pass: 55.1% (27th) | Run: 44.9% (6th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
The Dolphins defensive resurgence has come against some easy opponents, but the numbers behind their seven-week winning streak is still very impressive. Miami has allowed just 11.7 points per game over their last 7 games while all of their wins have been by 7 or more points. The Titans are definitely the toughest opponent the Dolphins have faced as of late, but their offense is still not setting the world on fire by any stretch – they’ve oscillated between 13 and 20 points scored in five-straight. Overall, this game is mediocre at best between these two slow-paced offenses that struggle to create explosive plays.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Did your eyes gaze upon A.J. Brown doing whatever he wanted against the San Francisco defense in his first game since being activated from IR last week? If not, quickly remedy that deficit in your knowledge. HE… TOOK… OVER. AJB made the 49ers’ defense appear to be on the level of a collegiate spring game. An 11/145/1 receiving line (34.5 FPs) on 16 targets later, Brown laid any and all questions as to his health to rest.
Given that, does the individual matchup even matter? We’ll take a look anyway. Brown will draw Xavien Howard on around 40% of his routes. The X-Factor has granted 1.08 YPCS (36th-fewest among 78 qualified perimeter CBs), 0.26 FP/CS (34th-most), a 91.5 TPR (36th-lowest). And those numbers have come down quite a bit during the second half of the season, particularly during the last three games when his coverage has been nearly flawless. Even with a streaking Howard tracking AJB on enough reps to matter, Brown is a top-six fantasy wideout that packs together outstanding hands and second-to-nobody physicality.
Do not read into DeVante Parker failing to be targeted last week. Tua Tagovailoa is the type of QB that puts the ball into the windows that the opposing defense provides. He holds ball security in such high regard that loosening up his approach stands as one of the factors requiring the most development in his game. When his coaching staff has attempted to push him to increase his aggressiveness, from the throws where I’ve decided Tua has been coaxed, those throws have resulted in four of his ‘21 INTs.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Dolphins are red-hot, but against a Titans team that’s slowly getting healthier, they have one of their toughest matchups in a long time. That means it’s yet another shaky week for QB Tua Tagovailoa, who is more of a “floor” play than anything else at QB.
Here’s Jake Tribbey from Streamers on Tua’s potential this week:
“Tua is a rather bland QB relative to the other run-heavy QBs we have discussed in this piece, but he warrants mention as he’s a surefire starter this week, unlike every other quarterback we’ve discussed.
In his full games this season, Tua has averaged 17.8 FPG, which would rank 13th among all QBs over the full season. So, he’s a high-end QB2 week-to-week, pending his matchup.
And for Week 17, the matchup appears favorable with Tennessee giving up the 6th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs (+1.6).
I’m viewing Tua as the “safe” streaming option at QB this week, relative to what else is available. He doesn’t offer the rushing floor that Hill, Fields, or Lance does, but he hasn’t scored less than 11.0 fantasy points in a start this season and is a lock to start at QB this week, which we can’t say about those other three QBs. So, for those who want to minimize risk when streaming this week, Tagovailoa is your best bet until we get confirmation that these other QBs are actually starting.”
Of course, Tua can’t do anything without throwing the ball to Jaylen Waddle, who could very well surpass Anquan Boldin’s rookie reception record this week. Here’s Scott Barrett from Start/Sit on Waddle:
“Waddle has been nothing short of a revelation this season, on pace for the most receptions and the 6th-most fantasy points by any rookie WR all-time.
Waddle has caught at least 8 passes in 4 straight games, averaging 23.1 FPG over this span (low of 18.0). And, since Week 6, he averages 10.8 targets, 17.8 XFP/G, and 18.9 FPG. Those numbers rank 6th-, 8th-, and 6th-best over this span. Clearly, he’s not just “good for a rookie,” but he appears to be a dependable mid-range WR1 for fantasy.
Waddle runs 61% of his routes from the slot, and gets a best-possible matchup this week against the Titans. Tennessee ranks worst in FPG (17.4) and YPG (77.7) allowed to opposing slot WRs.
Waddle should be started as a top-7 option this week.”
Waddle’s upside in this matchup does not extend to TE Mike Gesicki. Here’s Graham from Start/Sit:
“After it looked like Gesicki turned a corner in the middle of the season with a nice consistent stretch of performances, he’s turned back into a pumpkin as of late. Over his last six games, Gesicki is averaging just 3.8 receptions, 29.7 yards, and a putrid 6.8 fantasy points per game. With Jaylen Waddle balling and DeVante Parker back healthy, Tua Tagovailoa simply isn’t looking Gesicki’s way much. It also doesn’t help that Durham Smythe is playing way more as of late and is stealing a few targets every week. The matchup outlook is bleak for Gesicki here, too, as the Titans are giving up the fifth-fewest YPG (37.1) to tight ends over the last eight weeks.”
All in all, the Dolphins are a very “narrow” fantasy team right now. I want nothing to do with this backfield, and it’s hard to trust the likes of DeVante Parker.
Last week, the Titans got WR AJ Brown back, and it gave them an elite fantasy option back on a team that has totally lacked them.
#Titans' Downing: AJ Brown, in basketball terms, is a "volume shooter," a guy you want to give as many chances as possible. As he feels momentum, confidence builds.— John Glennon (@glennonsports) December 30, 2021
Here’s Scott Barrett from the XFP Report on what Brown’s return meant to this offense and to fantasy:
“In his return to action last week, Brown earned 16 targets, 200 air yards, 2 end zone targets, and 2 deep targets, good for 30.1 XFP. That ranked most among all WRs on the week, and 6th-most by any WR in any week this season. This also equated to a 53% target share (3rd-most by any WR in any week this season) and a 45% XFP share (2nd-most by any WR in any week this season). And Brown was highly efficient with that good volume, as he’s always been, catching 11 for 145 yards and a score, good for 31.5 fantasy points.
(Julio Jones, meanwhile, remained a non-factor; earning just one target for the second week in a row.)
This was rare volume for any WR, but — (sadly) — especially for Brown, who, for whatever reason, has always had to make due with less. Or, at least, in contrast to the WRs as productive as he’s been.
Since entering the league, Brown ranks 5th in 100-yard games (12), but he ranks just 56th in double-digit target games (5), with 3 of those games (60%) coming over Brown’s last five games.
Since entering the league, Brown has been the single-most efficient WR in fantasy, out-scoring his expectation (PAR) by +3.0 FPG, or 24%. He’s produced as a mid-range WR2, but on only mid-range WR4-levels of volume. Perhaps now we’ll finally see what he can do with high-end WR1-levels of volume.”
Brown (who was held out of practice with a sore calf on Thursday for precautionary reasons) being a must-start option helps to take some of the sting off for those who need to stream QB Ryan Tannehill, because Julio Jones has been utterly useless — he is also on the COVID-19 list — and this backfield is all of a sudden a three-man mess.