Atlanta Falcons (2-3, 2-3 ATS) at Miami Dolphins (1-5, 2-4), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Falcons Stats and Trends
The Falcons are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as a favorite.
Atlanta is 5-2 toward unders in its last seven road games.
HC Arthur Smith and QB Matt Ryan are getting more confident in their shaky O-line with Ryan’s aDOT sitting at 9.7 yards in Weeks 4-5 after sitting at 4.9 yards in Week 1-3. He’s topped 21+ FP in each of his last two games with a more vertical approach to the passing attack, and he’s thrown for multiple TDs in each of his last four games. The Dolphins are giving up the third-most passing yards per game (307.5) to QBs.
Calvin Ridley aDOT shot up from 9.0 yards to 15.1 in his last contest in Week 4 and the deeper targets resulted in a season-best 80 yards. Ridley saw double-digit targets in each of the last three games, but he’s yet to break through with 20+ FP performance, which he did five times last season. The Dolphins have allowed three perimeter WRs (Marvin Jones, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown) to post 6+ catches, 100+ yards, and 1+ TDs in the last two weeks. Follow the statuses of CBs Xavien Howard and Byron Jones after they both sat out last week.
Kyle Pitts finally busted out in Week 5 after a promising but mostly ineffective start to his rookie campaign. With Ridley out of the lineup, Pitts hung 9/119/1 receiving against the Jets after posting 15/189 receiving in his first four games. Pitts is now averaging 7.2 targets per game, and the Dolphins are giving up a solid 4.7/51.8/.5 receiving per game to TEs.
Cordarrelle Patterson crushed his season-bests in snap share (59%), carries (14), targets (9), and receptions (7) the last time out. He saw a bump in playing time with Ridley out of the lineup and Russell Gage could return this week, so we’ll see if his role shrinks this week. He’s now scored 16+ FP in four straight games, and the Dolphins are giving up a solid 6.0/45.7/.3 receiving to RBs this season.
Mike Davis has seen 60% of the snaps or more and 15+ touches in every game this season, even with Patterson taking on a bigger role last week. He’s now posted between 10.2-13.3 FP in each of his five games this season. The Dolphins have given up 65+ rushing yards and one rushing TD to lead runners (James Robinson, Leonard Fournette, Jonathan Taylor) the last three weeks.
Brolley’s Dolphins Stats and Trends
Miami is the only team out of the four that played in London (Mia, Jax, Atl, NYJ) that elected to play the following week.
The Dolphins are 1-4 ATS in their last five games.
Miami has dropped three straight games ATS with an average cover margin of -11.7 points.
Tua Tagovailoa returned to action in Week 6 and he played well in defeat. He completed 33/47 passes for 329 yards (7.0 YPA), two touchdowns, and one INT and he added 3/22 rushing for 22.4 FP while playing with a skeleton crew against the Jaguars. The Dolphins are now averaging a whopping 42.0 passes per game over the last five weeks because of their failing defense and their league-worst rushing attack. Tua could see passing volume moving forward, and the Falcons are giving up the eighth-most FPG (22.5) to QBs this season.
Jaylen Waddle had just 5/64 receiving on 10 targets in Weeks 4-5, but he snapped out of it in a big way with 10/70/2 receiving on 13 targets against the Jaguars. Waddle’s aDOT now sits at a promising 9.9 yards in two games with Tua and a pathetic 2.9 yards in his four games with Jacoby Brissett. The Falcons limited slot WR Jamison Crowder to 4/24 receiving back in Week 5.
DeVante Parker has missed the last two weeks with a hamstring injury, but he’s expected to return to the lineup this week. He posted 4/77/1 receiving on nine targets (30% share) in his last action back in Week 4, and he has 4+ catches and 40+ yards in every game. The Falcons limited Corey Davis to 4/45 receiving the last time they took the field.
Mike Gesicki has 40+ receiving yards in each of his last five games and 4+ catches in each of his last four contests. He’s also topped 16+ FP in three of his last four games. He’s certainly benefited from Miami’s injuries at WRs but it was a good sign to see him clicking with Tua last week with 8/115 receiving on nine targets after he went catchless on three targets in the season opener with him. The Falcons are giving up the 14th-fewest FPG (10.0) to TEs this season.
The Dolphins have the league’s worst backfield and they’re averaging a league-low 71.5 rushing yards per game. Myles Gaskin went from posting 31.9 FP on a 69% snap share against the Bucs in Week 5 to just 3.4 FPG on a 36% share against the Jags last week. He still saw six targets last week but he turned them into just 2/5 receiving. Michael Carter posted 10/38/1 rushing and 3/20 receiving in this matchup two weeks ago.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.1 (10th)
Plays per game: 70.4 (9th)
Pass: 64.8% (9th) | Run: 35.2% (24th)
Pace: 26.6 (7th)
Plays per game: 65.3 (19th)
Pass: 69.8% (1st) | Run: 30.2% (32nd)
Despite all the trade rumors swirling around him, Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins are the most pass-heavy team in the league at 69.8%. Even when we adjust for game-script and only look at when the game is within a score, Miami is still passing the ball +8.6% above expectation – which is the second-highest rate and only trails The GOAT in Tampa (+8.7% pass above expectation). Whew. This is what happens when you have a bottom-3 offensive line combined with arguably the least talented backfield in football… you have no other option but to throw.
This is one of the few attractive games on the Week 7 slate from a shootout standpoint, with these two sides combining for the second-fastest matchup in pace and second-most in play volume. We know the Falcons can be a fantasy carnival – everyone scores! – with three of their 5 games against the Buccaneers (73 total points), Washington (64), and the Jets (47) all turning in good-to-great scoring and hitting the over. We are ticking a lot of boxes here for a shootout with Miami throwing a ton, both sides being top-10 in pace, and two powderkeg defenses that rank fourth (Miami) and sixth (Atlanta) worst in points allowed per drive.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Am I on Matt Ryan this week because he’s opposed by the defense that just lost to the Jaguars? Is it because he’s averaged 23.1 FPG over his last four games? Some say, when you beat the best, you become the best. Does that extend to the result of losing to the worst? Miami’s coaching staff made some bone-headed mistakes that cost them the game in the United Kingdom last week. But the fact that Jacksonville accumulated 396 total yards had less to do with poor sideline decision-making, and more to do with the personnel.
Just when it seemed Ryan might have ingested too many Roethlis-burgers, he bounced back with some impressive showings. He threw down 342 passing yards without Calvin Ridley in Week 5, and used the occasion to feed Kyle Pitts with his first cornerstone performance. The ‘Phins are now tolerating the second-most FPG to opposing offenses (107.6). They are gift-wrapping 21.0 FPG to QBs overall (10th-most), 23.6 over the last four (third), and 29.5 over the last two (second). It started with bleeding FPs to RBs. Now the floodgates have opened. Every single skill position (QB, RB, WR, and TE) is averaging top-five production overall, in the last four games, and/or the last two. Week 7 offers far more options than those rostered by Kansas City and Tennessee.
In the three games Jaylen Waddle has played with his former Alabama teammate, Tua Tagovailoa, under center, he’s created 18.3 FPG. Waddle has found the end zone three times, all when working with Tagovailoa, and the only three TD passes thrown by Tua this season. Waddle is seeing a target share of 0.8% less than DeVonta Smith, but he’s producing 2.2 more FPG. In order for Waddle to succeed this week, he’ll need to buck the trend of Atlanta giving up the most FPG to receivers stationed outside (23.5), fourth-fewest from the slot (14.8). And it appears that Waddle will mostly be the responsibility of ‘21 fourth-rounder Darren Hall. With only 17 coverage snaps, Hall fails to qualify among slot corners. Overall, the Dirty Birds are permitting the 10th-most FPG to opposing WRs.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
I do wonder how Tua Tagovailoa handles all this. He came off a serious hip injury, was benched multiple times in game as a rookie, has to hear Dolphin fans (correctly) wonder about what could have been with Justin Herbert, and now has to hear endless Deshaun Watson rumors, with the likelihood he’d be on the move in said deal.
Still, presuming no trade happens between now and gametime, he threw for 329 yards and 2 TD against the Jags last week, he’s potentially getting DeVante Parker (shoulder/hamstring) back, and the Falcons give up the 8th-most FPG to opposing QBs, without pass rusher Dante Fowler (knee) and CB Avery Williams (hamstring). He’s a viable streamer this week.
If Parker goes, he’s a WR3. Hamstring injuries are scary (as we’ve seen from Julio Jones, et. al.), but Wes notes above that the Falcons have surrendered the most FPG to outside WRs, where Parker would mostly line up.
The two Dolphin pass catchers I definitely want to start are TE Mike Gesicki and WR Jaylen Waddle.
Gesicki has had a good rapport with Tua dating back to last season. In games in which Tua has 10 or more pass attempts, Gesicki averages 11.0 FPG as opposed to 7.5 in other games in his career. And over the last month, Gesicki is the TE4 in FPG – which only trails Mark Andrews, Dalton Schultz, and Dawson Knox – and he’s tied for the second-most targets (34) at the position in this span.
Wes talked above why he likes Waddle this week, and Brolley notes that Waddle’s aDOT is significantly higher with Tua than it was with Jacoby Brissett under center. Tua and Waddle’s connection has been one of the lone bright spots for what was a promising looking season in Miami as the duo has connected on 15-of-20 attempts for 144 yards, 9 first downs, and 3 TDs in just two games of work. While Tua isn’t playing particularly well overall, at least we’re going to get a solid season from Waddle to show for it.
If you’re starting someone in the Miami backfield, let’s just say you’re braver than I am. Myles Gaskin is the best of the bunch, but good luck.
It’s still absolutely mind-blowing that the Atlanta Falcons are the team that has figured out how to use Cordarrelle Patterson. And use him correctly they did in Week 5, especially in a pinch with Calvin Ridley (personal matter) out. Patterson had been stuck getting just 20-25 snaps per game and making the most of them in the opening month but broke out for season-highs in carries (14) and snaps (46 total | 59% share) en route to his third straight game with over 100 scrimmage yards. Patterson took his 14 carries for 54 yards and added 7/60 receiving for 18.4 FP. Now, over his last four games, Patterson has finished as the RB4, RB19, RB1, and RB16. If he continues getting more snaps and an increased role, Patterson won’t need to run hot and score fluky TDs to be a very valuable fantasy asset. He’s been better than Mike Davis, but Davis still has enough of a role that he’s hard to bench in the Bye Week Hell that is Week 7.
By the way, Ridley is back this week, and Scott Barrett loves the matchup. From Start/Sit:
“After Stefon Diggs hit last week, Calvin Ridley is now probably your No. 1 buy-low WR. But just know, like with Diggs last week, your buy-low window is about to slam shut.
Among all WRs, Ridley ranks 25th in FPG (14.6), but 3rd in XFP per game (20.5), 5th in air yards per game (132.5), and 3rd in targets per game (11.5). He’s seeing elite high-end WR1-levels of volume, but is producing as just a high-end WR3. That’s not great, but expect the regression to hit in a big way this week. The Dolphins are giving up the 5th-most YPG to opposing WRs on deep passes (139.0), the 8th-most FPG to opposing WR1s (18.2), and the 9th-most FPG to opposing outside WRs (24.9). Start him with confidence as an easy top-5 option this week.
There is some concern that Xavien Howard will return from injury and shadow Ridley (with Byron Jones shadowing Kyle Pitts like he did Darren Waller). But I don’t think it’s a major concern. In three shadow games thus far, Howard’s opposition (Diggs, Henry Ruggs, and Antonio Brown) has combined for 20.0 FPG and 87.3 YPG.”
As you can see above, the Dolphins have a lot of injuries in the secondary, as well.
Brolley noted above how the Falcons have been attacking downfield vertically in recent games, and my hope is that change extended through the bye. Matt Ryan is a viable option this week, and you’re obviously not sitting Kyle Pitts. The Falcons are also getting Russell Gage back this week but I don’t have much confidence in starting him.