Dolphins Fantasy: Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em vs Bills


Dan Campbell’s turnaround of the Miami Dolphins’ season suffered a setback at the hands of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last Thursday night. The Dolphins were dismantled in the 36-7 loss, and, although this Miami team has improved, it still has plenty of flaws, all of which were exposed by Brady and co.

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A new week has arrived and with it comes another divisional opponent for Miami to try and overcome. Like New England, the Buffalo Bills have already embarrassed the Dolphins this season, no one needs to remind me of the 2015 home opener. After a nine hour flight from London,  a 41-14 humiliation against the Bills was not exactly what I was hoping for. The Floridian rain felt somewhat heavier that day.

The Dolphins, now 3-4, are yet to beat a divisional rival in three attempts. It’s all well and good blowing out lowly teams like the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, but if Campbell really wants to stake his claim for the permanent head coaching job, he must win in Buffalo this Sunday to keep any chance of playoff football alive. Now, if you are struggling to stay alive in your fantasy league, here’s which Dolphins could help you, and which could thwart you this Sunday.

Start ‘Em

Rishard Matthews – Wide Receiver 

I said it last time and I’ll say it again, Matthews is having a breakthrough year. Last time out against the Bills he racked up six catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns, which equated to 23.30 fantasy points. His impressive form has seen him take veteran Greg Jennings’ starting spot on the official depth chart

“We need to keep our focus and keep our momentum, put this in the past, but remember it as well. We don’t want to lose like this again, we’re going remember this feeling” – Matthews on Pats loss

He is only two points behind the Dolphins’ leading fantasy wide receiver Jarvis Landry, and is a hefty 43.30 points ahead of any other Miami receiver. The main reason for his emergence as a solid fantasy WR2 is because of his productivity in the red-zone. Matthews currently has four receiving touchdowns, two more than any other Dolphins wide-out has recorded so far this season.

With Jason Fox being relied on at right tackle yet again, I see the running game struggling against the Bills defensive front. Forcing the ball into Ryan Tannehill’s hands will likely lead to more turnovers, but it will also mean more targets and, hopefully, catches for Matthews. He single-handedly burned the Bills last time out, and a similar performance would give the Dolphins every chance of recording their first divisional win of the season and getting back to .500.

Defense/Special Teams

On the fence may be the best place to stay on this one, but I’m sticking my neck out instead. Yes, the defense lost its stand-out player for the season in Cameron Wake. Yes, Tyrod Taylor is back from injury and enjoyed a career-high passer rating of 136.7 against Miami earlier on in the campaign. And yes, the Bills put up 41 points against this very unit just five games ago. So, what’s the difference this time round I hear you ask? Dan Campbell is.

The U-turn that Campbell has performed with the Dolphins has been well documented, but his work to improve the defense in particular has been nothing short of miraculous. The Phins D is unrecognisable from the first four games and done all they could to keep the Dolphins in the game against the Patriots by stopping Bill Belichick’s offense on three successive drives in the second quarter.

"The Dolphins defense has 12 sacks, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions (two of which have been returned for touchdowns by Reshad Jones), and 18 tackles for loss in the three games that Campbell has been in charge"

If Miami are going to win this game, they will have to do so on both sides of the ball. Any slip back into the shambolic play that was apparent at the start of season will cost the Dolphins this game and will resign them to a seventh consecutive season without playoff football. This group has playmakers, and wouldn’t it be fantastic to see them all turn up on Sunday and keep our season alive.

Other noticeable starts: Jarvis Landry – Wide Receiver 

Sit ‘Em

Ryan Tannehill – Quarterback

This should be an obvious one, that is if you have kept the faith and haven’t waiver wired Tannehill yet. The Dolphins QB has been erratic with his throws and decision making this season, and any positive correlation has been eclipsed by turnovers, which has damaged his productivity in fantasy land.

Instead of his development progressing, it has rather regressed, and Tannehill is not looking like the $96 million quarterback we were hoping for. If you do still have Miami’s signal caller in your fantasy team, it may be time to look for a trade. He has only recorded over 20 points once so far, against Jacksonville, and actually ended up with minus points after the zero touchdown, two interception performance last Thursday.

The fourth-year QB was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week and had a perfect passer rating against Houston and then achieved -1.10 fantasy points the next week against the Pats. Sun Sentinel columnist Omar Kelly took to Twitter to give an idea of just how inconsistent Tannehill has been this season.

Sunday’s game will be another that I’ll be surprised to see Tannehill get out of without an injury. The Buffalo defensive line has underperformed thus far and has only recorded 11 sacks, which is 29th in the league, five spots behind the Dolphins. The Bills managed two sacks last time out against a Miami offensive line that is 25th in sacks allowed, but they should get some joy when Mario Williams lines up against Fox at Miami’s right tackle. This team has gloriously failed to turn up when they had to in the past few years, and if Tannehill has another game in which he throws more interceptions than touchdowns then I am afraid we can kiss post-season football goodbye for yet another year.

Other noticeable sits: Lamar Miller – Running Back

Next: Dolphins ready for re-match with Bills