Miami Dolphins (1-3, 2-2 ATS) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1, 1-3), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Dolphins Stats and Trends
The Dolphins have covered five straight games as a road underdog.
The Dolphins can’t get Tua Tagovailoa (ribs) back soon enough with Jacoby Brissett averaging a truly horrific 4.9 YPA in his three appearances. He completed 20/30 passes for 199 yards (6.6 YPA) and two TDs in a loss to the Colts. The Buccaneers have given up multiple TD passes and 275+ yards in every game this season.
DeVante Parker had 4+ catches and 40+ yards in each of his first three games, and he finally busted through with a big game in Week 4 with 4/77/1 receiving on nine targets (30% share). He’s now seen 7+ targets in every game and he owns a 23% target share. The Buccaneers’ secondary has had some of the worst injury luck at the start of the season with Carlton Davis (quad) and Antoine Winfield (concussion) joining Sean Murphy-Bunting (elbow) and Jamel Dean (knee) on the sidelines last week.
Jaylen Waddle got off to a fast start last week before vanishing for the final three quarters despite Will Fuller (hand, IR) leaving early. He finished with 3/33 receiving on four targets, but he gets a good bounce-back spot this week. Jakobi Meyers, another low-aDOT slot, posted 8/70 receiving in this matchup last week.
Mike Gesicki has posted 16+ FP in Brissett’s first two starts, and he has a combined 15/143/1 receiving the last two weeks. Patriots TEs combined for 7/46/2 receiving last week, and the Buccaneers are giving up the third-most FPG (17.5) to TEs this season.
The lifeless Dolphins’ offense demoted Myles Gaskin (23% snap share) in favor of Malcolm Brown (67%) last week. Brown finished with just 8/23 rushing and he caught his only target for four yards, while Gaskin totaled just 2/3 rushing without a target. Gaskin had been above a 50% snap share in each of the first three weeks, but Brown has seen his snap share grow in each of the last three weeks (12%<41%<67%.). The Bucs are giving up a league-low 42.0 rushing yards per game to RBs and just 2.8 YPC. They’re at least giving up the fifth-most catches per game (7.5) to the position.
Brolley’s Buccaneers Stats and Trends
The Buccaneers are 5-1 ATS in their last six home games, and they’re 5-2 toward unders in their last seven home contests.
Tom Brady has thrown just one touchdown in the last two weeks after throwing for nine scores in the first two games of the season. He completed just 51.1% of his passes for 6.3 YPA with the Patriots dropping back into coverage last week, so we’ll see if Brian Flores follows the script laid out by his former mentor Bill Belichick. The Dolphins have allowed 20+ consecutive points to be scored against them in each of the last three weeks, and QBs have thrown for two scores against Miami the last three weeks.
Mike Evans has posted 9+ targets, 5+ catches, 75+ yards, and 14+ FP in three straight games since his quiet Week 1 performance against Trevon Diggs. Antonio Brown stepped back into the lineup last week after having COVID in Week 3, and he posted 7/63 receiving on 11 targets. He couldn’t quite connect with Brady on two chances for a 31-yard touchdown at the end of the game. Evans and Brown will see the most of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones this week, and the Dolphins are giving up 13.8 YPR to WRs.
Chris Godwin has seen just 17 targets (13% share) over the last three weeks after seeing 14 targets (30%) in the season opener. He also had his three-game TD streak to open the season snapped last week as he finished with just 3/55 receiving. Godwin gets the easiest matchup on paper against Nik Needham, but he’s allowed just .87 yards per slot coverage snap this season.
The Buccaneers gave the impression that Rob Gronkowski may play in Week 4, but we learned late in the week that he fractured his ribs on a big hit in Week 3. His replacements O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate failed to make impacts in his absence. Brate played just one more snap than Howard (51 to 50), but he finished with more routes (31 to 15), targets (6 to 2), catches (2 to 0), and yards (29 to 0). Brate is clearly the Buccaneers TE to target if you’re looking for Gronk’s replacement in this offense for as long as he’s out. Mo Alie-Cox posted 3/42/2 receiving on five targets in this matchup last week.
The Patriots sold out to slow down Tampa Bay’s passing attack in Brady’s return to Foxboro, and Fournette stepped up and kept the offense marching forward. With Giovani Bernard (knee) out of the lineup, Fournette posted 20/91 rushing (4.6 YPC) and 3/47 receiving on five targets while playing on 81% of the snaps in their dramatic victory. Fournette has mostly pushed Ronald Jones to the side (17% snap share), but RoJo vultured a goal-line touchdown in the third quarter on a quick scoring drive that opened with four consecutive Fournette touches (in other words, Lenny was gassed). Fournette has hardly been spectacular through the first month but he’s been much steadier than Jones, which means a lot playing with a perfectionist like Brady. The Dolphins are giving up 4.4 YPC and the third-most rushing yards per game (123.8) to the position.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 25.6 (2nd)
Plays per game: 66.8 (18th)
Pass: 66.7% (5th) | Run: 33.3% (28th)
Pace: 26.1 (6th)
Plays per game: 70.3 (7th)
Pass: 71.9% (2nd) | Run: 28.1% (31st)
While the outcome of this game is not in question, there is more fantasy appeal here than meets the eye. Both sides are top-6 in pace so there should be quite a bit of back and forth and play volume and the Dolphins could end up throwing a ton with Brady and the Bucs’ pushing the scoring. Get this: Opponents are throwing on Tampa Bay 78.6% (!!) of the time in neutral situations, which, for perspective, is 18.9% higher than expectation. That is absurd. Now, there are three main reasons that the Bucs’ opponents are just throwing at will against them: 1) it’s impossible to run on Tampa, 2) you have to match points with Brady and passing is the easiest path and 3) Tampa’s secondary has been bitten by the injury bug. What this means is that DeVante Parker, Jaylen Waddle, and Mike Gesicki all project for more volume than normal in what should be a very pass-heavy game-script for Miami.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Things go from bad to worse for Miami. Losing 27-17 at home to Indianapolis leaves a sour taste behind. Now they will bring a 1-3 record on the road to face the GOAT. Tom Brady found quite the challenge from New England last week. But all of those tricks up Bill Belichick’s sleeve will not be shared with the Dolphins.
The Dolphins typical coverage shells set up particularly well for Brady, and while that usually means Mike Evans also gets his, I like Chris Godwin’s matchup on Nik Needham more than I like Evans’ with Xavien Howard, though Howard has had some uncharacteristic struggles this year. For what it’s worth, CB Byron Jones (quad/Achilles) did return to practice this week and will play.
The Bucs’ secondary has been playing at far less than 100% health, and they just put Carlton Davis on IR. And they have given up a ton of FPs through the air. But can we trust Jacoby Brissett this week? Miami’s O-line is perhaps the worst in football after four weeks. They have permitted nearly 80 QB pressures to lead the league. And nobody is averaging fewer YPA than Brissett’s 4.90. Luckily for Jaylen Waddle, he doesn’t require air yardage to work.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Let’s start with the Dolphins, which I think are a simple team overall to break down.
First of all, I think Miami will be playing from behind and will have to throw it. And the Bucs’ secondary is totally banged up, with Carlton Davis on IR, Sean Murphy-Bunting out, and Jamel Dean just working his way back. Parker and Waddle are WR3 options, but Parker much more volatile than Waddle after picking up a hamstring injury in practice this week.
DeVante has developed soreness in hamstring and this decision might go up to game time Sunday, Flores said.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) October 8, 2021
Gesicki is frustrating and one of the biggest teases in all of fantasy, but despite a Week 1 goose egg, he’s the overall TE11 on the year. That’s both a commentary on the lack of reliable options at the position, and Gesicki’s last two weeks, over which Jacoby Brissett has targeted him 18 times for a 15/143/1 line, good enough for the overall TE3 rank in those two weeks. The Bucs have given up the 3rd-most FPG to TEs this year.
Meanwhile, forget about this backfield. The Bucs “surrendered” negative rushing yards to the Pats last week, and Miami benched Myles Gaskin in favor of Malcolm Brown in Week 4. Any Dolphin RB is a mediocre bench stash.
While the matchup is a tougher one for Tom Brady on paper and he didn’t look good in New England last week against Brian Flores’ mentor, Bill Belichick, I wonder if Brady will carve up Flores’ blitzes.
Per Next Gen Stats, the Dolphins’ 40.9% blitz rate is the highest in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Bucs have kept Brady free from pressure on all but 13.6% of blitz attempts this year, which is easily the lowest rate in the league. Both the offensive line and Brady’s quick thinking deserve credit for that, and Brady has thrown 5 TD against the blitz, second most in the NFL. Brady is a defensible QB1.
All three of Brady’s top WRs — Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown — have seen a double-digit target game this year. Wes likes the draw for Godwin, and I wonder if Brown will get free quite a bit if Evans has to deal with Xavien Howard. I find it hard to sit any of the three, as all are WR2s on my board.
If you’re desperate for a TE with Rob Gronkowski out, Cameron Brate did have 6 targets and a 64% snap share last week. His 2/29 line wasn’t all his fault — Brady simply wasn’t sharp. Mo Alie-Cox blasted 2 TDs on the Dolphins last week.
That leads me to the Bucs’ backfield, where Leonard Fournette excelled against the Pats last week, with Giovani Bernard nursing a knee injury. If Bernard is back (he is questionable), I hope the Bucs just bench the useless Ronald Jones, but Bernard coming back could limit Fournette’s role in the passing game, knocking him from a borderline RB1 to a low-end RB2. Fortunately for Fournette, the coaching staff has noticed his value as a receiver.
OC Byron Leftwich says Leonard Fournette always helps in the passing game. “Every game, you look up and he has four or five catches. Big catches.”— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) October 7, 2021