Buffalo Bills (0-1, 0-1 ATS) at Miami Dolphins (1-0, 1-0), 1 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Bills 25.5, Dolphins 22
Spread/Total Movements: 3 to 3.5, 48.5 to 47.5
Weather: 88 degrees, 60% chance of rain, 10 mph
Bills Injuries to Watch: WR Gabriel Davis (ankle, questionable), DT Star Lotulelei (calf, questionable)
Dolphins Injuries to Watch: WR Will Fuller (personal, out), LB Raekwon Davis (knee, IR), WR Preston Williams (foot)
Brolley’s Bills Stats and Trends
These teams have played over the total in five straight games in this series.
The Bills are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games.
Buffalo is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 games despite last week’s failed cover.
The Bills have played over the total in four of their last five road games.
Josh Allen needed 51 attempts to get to 270 yards and one touchdown (5.7 YPA) with the Steelers pressuring him on 41.1% of his dropbacks last week. The Steelers blitzed just once to generate pressure last week while the Dolphins blitzed at the second-highest rate (52.5%) last week. Allen torched the Dolphins for 637/7 passing and 10.7 YPA in just six quarters last season.
Stefon Diggs fell below 70 receiving yards for the first time in eight games (playoffs included) but he still got to 15.9 FPG thanks to nine catches and 14 targets. Diggs has now reached double-digit targets in 12-of-19 games with the Bills. Diggs ate up the Dolphins last season with 15/229/1 receiving in just six quarters.
Cole Beasley picked up right where he left off with 8/60 receiving on 13 targets against the Steelers last week. He sat out the season finale against the Dolphins but he hung 5/70 receiving on six targets in their other matchup.
Emmanuel Sanders stepped into John Brown’s old role in Buffalo’s offense with Gabriel Davis working behind him in four-WR sets last week. Sanders posted a serviceable 4/52 receiving on eight targets (16% share) while Davis made the most of his five looks with 2/40/1 receiving (10% share) with his touchdown coming on a three-yard pass — he did pick up an injury. Davis scored two touchdowns against the Dolphins last season.
Dawson Knox saw just an 8% target share in the season opener against the Steelers, but he at least caught all four of his targets for 41 yards. He caught just 55.3% of his targets through two seasons (52/94) and a whopping 14 of his misconnections came via drops (15.2% drop rate), so Knox is off to a positive start by catching all four of his targets. The Dolphins allowed 8/73 receiving to Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry last week.
Zack Moss is officially in OC Brian Daboll’s doghouse after the team made him a surprise healthy scratch against the Steelers in Week 1. The Bills rolled with a combination of Devin Singletary (75% snap share), Matt Breida (12%) and Isaiah McKenzie (18%) in their backfield with Moss on the sidelines. Singletary posted a solid 11/72 rushing (6.5 YPC) and 3/8 receiving on five targets for 11.0 FP against a stout Steelers defense. Singletary had limited success in two games against the Dolphins last season (13/63 rushing, 3/26 receiving), but he has a much better chance to produce for as long as Moss is out of the mix.
Brolley’s Dolphins Stats and Trends
The Dolphins have covered six straight games at home, and they’re 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as a home underdog.
The Dolphins are 5-2 toward unders in their last seven home games.
Tua Tagovailoa is now 4-0 ATS as an underdog after last week’s win and cover.
Tua needed a one-yard touchdown run to salvage his Week 1 after throwing for just 202 yards (7.5 YPA) and one touchdown against the Patriots. He’s reached two TD passes in just one of his last seven starts, and he threw three INTs and averaged 6.2 YPA in his lone start against the Bills last season.
DeVante Parker paced the Dolphins with 4/81 receiving on a team-best seven targets (26% share) against the Patriots. He’s posted 16+ FP against the Dolphins in four straight games with either 115+ yards or a touchdown scored in each game.
Jaylen Waddle lived up to expectations in his NFL debut against one of the league’s better defenses, recording 4/61/1 receiving on six targets (22%) while running 76% of his routes from the slot against the Patriots. He showed his speed on his game-high 36-yard reception and some toughness on his goal-line touchdown. The Dolphins used Waddle as a full-time player with an 80% snap share, which trailed only Parker (83%) at the position. JuJu Smith-Schuster posted 4/52 receiving on seven targets out of the slot against the Bills last week.
Will Fuller will be added to the mix this week after he finished serving his six-game suspension for PEDs. He finished as WR8 with 17.2 FPG while playing 87% of the snaps in 11 games last season with Deshaun Watson and the Texans. Fuller finished seventh in yards per route run (2.28) and he had only two drops last season, which was once a big concern of his coming out of Notre Dame. The Bills held Chase Claypool to 3/45 receiving last week and they didn’t give up a completion more than 20+ yards downfield. (UPDATE: Fuller is out with a personal issue).
Mike Gesicki is back to his boom-or-bust ways after posting a goose egg in the season opener against the Patriots. He saw just two targets from Tua and he played on just 39% of the snaps, behind Durham Smythe (70%) and just ahead of rookie Hunter Long (33%). Gesicki hammered the Bills for 13/177/1 receiving on 21 targets last season and this week’s game script projects to be better for him.
Myles Gaskin is the team’s top back after the Dolphins spread out the work in this backfield to Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed in the preseason. Gaskin posted 9/49 rushing (5.4 YPC) and he caught all five of his targets for 27 yards in Miami’s season-opening victory over the Patriots, and he easily paced the backfield with a 54% snap share ahead of Brown (30%) and Ahmed (20%). Brown did come into the game on Miami’s lone drive inside the 10-yard line so Gaskin is going to lose out on some goal-line carries, but he makes up for it with his 4.2 catches per game since the start of 2020. Gaskin had some success against the Bills last season with 10/93 receiving and 14/66 rushing in two games.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 22.3 (10th)
Week 1 – Plays per game: 83 (3rd)
Week 1 – Pass: 69.5% (9th) | Run: 30.5% (24th)
Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 22.1 (8th)
Week 1 – Plays per game: 55 (30th)
Week 1 – Pass: 58.2% (19th) | Run: 41.8% (14th)
Josh Allen and the Bills are going to come out and throw the ball, no matter who they are playing. That’s just what they do. Buffalo went 66% pass-heavy on early-downs (1st and 2nd) in Week 1 vs. Pittsburgh and will have no issues rolling over a similar game-plan here. Miami was far more balanced on Opening Day – but they might have to open up their playbook a bit here to keep up with the Bills scoring pace. History suggests as much, too. Miami’s secondary is better now, but this meeting has offered fireworks in the past with their last four games combining for 52, 57, 59, and 82 total points. One other factor pointing towards a potential shootout is that Miami quietly played pretty fast in Week 1, getting plays off at the eighth-fastest clip. In fact, this game has the fourth-fastest adjusted combined pace of the week, behind Cardinals-Vikings, Chargers-Cowboys, and Buccaneers-Falcons.
(Note: We’re dealing with very small sample sizes early in the season – so I’m saving the deep dive into play-calling tendencies until Week 4.)
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The Bills continued to spread it out — OC Brian Daboll had three or more detached receivers on 96% of their offensive snaps in Week 1, and called a pass on over two-thirds of those snaps. The run game is simply an afterthought for Buffalo.
It will be a challenge this week, though, with top WR Stefon Diggs (Xavien Howard) and slot man Cole Beasley (Nik Needham) have tough matchups. While Diggs massacred Miami in Week 2 last year, he did most of his work on rookie CB Noah Igbinoghene, who has since been benched. When matching up directly with Howard in Week 17, Diggs posted 2/26 receiving. Needham, meanwhile, did a great job on New England’s Jakobi Meyers last week, allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points per coverage snap of Week 1.
The key for Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa is that Buffalo’s pass rush is a weak spot — per SIS, Buffalo managed to pressure Ben Roethlisberger on just 22.9% of dropbacks in Week 1, sixth-fewest in the NFL.
While Tre’Davious White peruses the perimeter for Buffalo, and that’s a tough draw for DeVante Parker without Will Fuller (personal issue), the slot is a very interesting matchup. Rookie WR Jalen Waddle caught all 4 of his passes in Week 1, including his first career TD, from the slot, where Buffalo CB Taron Johnson also had a strong Week 1.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
It’s a pretty tough matchup for the Bills coming off a very disappointing Week 1, and their pass catchers might not find as much room to operate as they did even against a top defense like Pittsburgh.
Nonetheless, sitting Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs in season-long formats is never advisable. Diggs has 6 or more catches in 19 of his 20 games with the Bills, including both against Miami a season ago, though Xavien Howard held him down better than Noah Igbinoghene did. Slot WR Cole Beasley is always playable as a WR3, but he had just 5/70 receiving in his only game against the Dolphins last year — he was inactive in Week 17. Slot CB Nik Needham had a great game in Week 1 against the Patriots for the Dolphins.
RB Zack Moss was a surprise healthy scratch for Buffalo last week, but it was just further confirmation that the run game is an afterthought for OC Brian Daboll. Despite Devin Singletary playing 75% of the offensive snaps, he posted just 11.0 FP, and in his last two games without Moss active, Singletary has totaled 15.3 FP. He’s fared better than that in the past, but he’s really just a FLEX option. If Moss is out of the doghouse, neither back is playable.
#Bills HC Sean McDermott said Zack Moss' injury status in training camp contributed to the decision to make him inactive in Week 1. McDermott said Moss has looked good this week.— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) September 17, 2021
One situation to watch is if Gabriel Davis (lower leg) sits this one out. You might be able to convince me Emmanuel Sanders (8 targets, 4/52 receiving) is a WR3 dart throw, with potentially the “easiest” of Buffalo’s tough passing-game matchups across the board.
I wasn’t terribly impressed with Tua Tagovailoa last week after a hot start to his game, and there’s no way I’m firing him into a lineup in Week 2 against a Buffalo defense that completely neutralized the Steeler offense.
While I was overall pleased with what I saw from RB Myles Gaskin, the Dolphins used an ugly three-man committee that included Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed combining to play 50% of the snaps… and Brown was the Dolphins’ back on their only trip inside the 10-yard line. If Gaskin is going to pay off as an RB2, he’s going to need to continue to haul in passes, which he does do well — 4.2 per game since the start of 2020. He’s the only Dolphin back in consideration, but after a rough 2020 defending the run, the Bills stymied Najee Harris and the Steelers’ ground game last week. Gaskin did have 10/93 receiving in two games against the Bills last year.
We expected Will Fuller to be in the mix this week, but he is out with a personal issue. He is a hold in deeper formats. Flores’ comments weren’t the most encouraging, either.
Will Fuller will not practice today and will not play Sunday due to a personal issue, Brian Flores says. Flores declines to say if he believes Fuller will return to the team this season.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) September 17, 2021
Jaylen Waddle lived up to expectations in his NFL debut against one of the league’s better defenses. He recorded 4/61/1 receiving on six targets (22%) against the Patriots, and he showed his speed on his game-high 36-yard reception and some toughness on his goal-line touchdown. The Dolphins used Waddle as a full-time player with an 80% snap share, which trailed only DeVante Parker (83%) at the position — Waddle ran just one fewer route than did Parker. He was Miami’s primary slot receiver, which I expect will continue this week against Buffalo’s Taron Johnson, who is a good player. Waddle just looked like a guy who is ready to make a difference. Still, he’s no more than a WR3.
TE Mike Gesicki ran just 18 routes in Week 1, and didn’t catch either of his 2 targets. TE Durham Smythe ran 15 routes in Week 1, and caught just 1 of his 2 targets. Neither is a good fantasy option. The inconsistent Gesicki is a huge disappointment, frankly — he slammed Buffalo for 13/177/1 last year, and the gamescript should be in his favor in Week 2, but if he doesn’t get it done this week, we’re teetering on “droppable.”