DFS advice for Thursday's Dolphins-Bengals game
Thursday night in Week 3 didn’t go the way most thought it would, as the Patriots routed the Texans 27-0 while riding LeGarrette Blount and third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett. From a surprise perspective, it’s not much different than the Thursday game in Week 2, when the Bills were able to hang around with the Jets, despite Sammy Watkins not being involved. So what surprises will Week 4 bring for daily fantasy football?
The Dolphins are going to be coming off a game in which they beat the Browns, though it did take overtime to do it, while the Bengals are coming off a home loss to the Broncos. In anticipation of the Thursday game, let’s look at which fantasy options you should be targeting in your Thursday DFS lineups.
Andy Dalton, Bengals (DraftKings $6,100, FanDuel $7,600, Yahoo $29)
The losses of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu have not been kind to Dalton, as he’s started the season with just two touchdown passes through three games, though he has salvaged some fantasy value by averaging 313 yards passing per game. Despite not throwing a single touchdown in Week 3, it was the first game this year where he received a positive grade from PFF, so maybe he’s starting to get the hang of life without his No. 2 and 3 receivers from last year.
Going up against the Dolphins is a treat for anyone, especially on a short week at home. Through three games they’ve allowed every team to throw for a minimum of 258 yards, but it’s more than just that. The last two teams that have played against them were the Browns and the Patriots, two teams that were down to their third-string quarterbacks, seeing as Jimmy Garoppolo left the game in the second quarter and the Browns had to start Cody Kessler. So to see them allow 55 points to those teams should raise red flags. Dalton is a great high-floor option in this game, but it strikes me as one where they’ll rely on the run game. You should like him in cash formats this week, but not so much in GPP’s.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (DraftKings $5,800, FanDuel $7,200, Yahoo $28)
Four days after he was considered the “chalk” play against the Browns, Tannehill finds himself in a scenario that is better than expected. The Bengals ranked as the third-best team in the NFL last year against fantasy quarterbacks, allowing just 12.6 fantasy points per game to them. This year has been a complete 180, as they’ve been the third-worst team through three weeks, allowing 20.3 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The loss of Leon Hall was a problem, but it appears that Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick may have been playing beyond their ability, as they’ve both graded out as below average through three weeks.
Another issue with their defense may have been the absence of Vontaze Burfict. Burfict was suspended through the first three games, but he’ll be active for this game, looking to change the outlook for opposing offenses. The addition of Adam Gase has helped the Dolphins’ offensive outlook, as Tannehill has improved both his yards per game and yards per attempt, but the Browns definitely helped inflate those numbers. Considering there are other options around his price range that are in better spots (like Dak Prescott), Tannehill is nothing more than a contrarian play in Week 4.
Jeremy Hill (DraftKings $4,100, FanDuel $7,000, Yahoo $26) and Giovani Bernard, Bengals (DraftKings $4,700, FanDuel $5,500, Yahoo $19)
Hill is a player who has one of the biggest variances in his pricing among the three main sites in Week 4, and the obviously low one is DraftKings, who have him priced at just $4,100. That is low enough to be the No. 35 running back, while FanDuel and Yahoo both have him as the No. 14 option. While PPR changes things a bit, it shouldn’t change it to this magnitude. For today’s purpose, I’m not going to dance around it — start Hill on DraftKings this week. In cash, in tournaments, in whatever else you play, start him.
This game script leans more toward Hill, while Bernard typically scores more fantasy points in losses than he does wins, and for obvious reasons, as he is their primary running back in the hurry-up offense or two-minute drill. He averages 14.63 PPR points in the games the Bengals lose, while averaging 12.53 PPR points in the games they win. The Bengals are the heavy favorites in this game. Opponents have totaled a minimum of 25 carries a game against the Dolphins, and they have averaged 4.52 yards per clip while doing so. They have also allowed 14 receptions to running backs, though they’ve limited the actual production on those to just 68 yards and no touchdowns. Everything about this game says to start Hill, and although Bernard should offer value at his cheap cost, I’m willing to spend a little more on FD and Yahoo in order to secure Hill if I want a Bengals running back.
Jay Ajayi (DraftKings $4,000, FanDuel $5,500, Yahoo $14) and Kenyan Drake, Dolphins (DraftKings $3,600, FanDuel $5,400, Yahoo $12)
It was announced before the games started in Week 3 that Drake would be getting the start against the Browns, though I said on the PFF podcast that I wouldn’t want to trust any of them, but that if I did, it would still be Ajayi. While yes, he did score a touchdown at the end of the game, he is not someone you should trust in Week 4. The snap counts from the Dolphins’ game against the Browns are no help, as Drake played 27 snaps, Ajayi played 18, Isaiah Pead 13 and Damien Williams 10. Gase has said this week that it will remain a four-headed monster until Arian Foster returns. On top of that, we’re talking about them going against a Bengals defense that held opponents to just 3.6 yards per carry without Burfict. If you are forced to play one, it would be Drake, as he does the most in the passing game. But if you are able to avoid this backfield, just do that.
A.J. Green, Bengals (DraftKings $8,500, FanDuel $8,100, Yahoo $37)
Since lighting up Darrelle Revis for 180 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, Green has been relatively quiet, catching 10 passes for 115 yards the last two weeks without a touchdown. While one game was against the Broncos cornerbacks, you would’ve expected him to do more against the Steelers secondary. But looking at his matchup on Thursday night, he could make up for lost time against Byron Maxwell and rookie Xavien Howard.
The two cornerbacks for the Dolphins have seen 44 targets in coverage, and have allowed 27 receptions for 323 yards on them. For those keeping track at home, that amounts to 7.34 yards per target. While it’s not the highest number, keep in mind that they played against the third-string quarterbacks of the Browns and Patriots. Slot cornerback Bobby McCain will also be asked to help in coverage, as Green has gone into the slot 22 percent of the time this year. McCain has allowed five of six targets in coverage to be caught, and two of them have been for touchdowns. This game could have negative game script for the Bengals passing game, but Green should be able to get enough early on against this secondary. Oddly enough, Green actually averages 6.5 more points on the road over his career than he does at home, so keep that in mind. While I wouldn’t recommend Green in cash, I think he makes for a fine tournament play.
Jarvis Landry (DraftKings $6,900, FanDuel $7,200, Yahoo $24) and DeVante Parker (DraftKings $5,200, FanDuel $6,300, Yahoo $17)
When trying to figure out which of the Dolphins wide receivers to play, it will often come down to matchup and cost. Through two games under Gase, Parker has been able to accumulate 18 targets, while Landry has seen 23 in those two games. Landry was considered one of the locks for DFS teams last week, and he has another great matchup in this game. Even though Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick haven’t played to the level they did last year, it’s still good that Landry should avoid those two on 78.8 percent of his routes. It’s from the slot where Landry does his damage, as 20 of his 24 receptions have come there, as well as his one touchdown. I stated last week that Landry has actually averaged more catches and yards per game with Parker in the lineup, so don’t let you think that Parker limits his ceiling. He’s worth his price of admission in this matchup.
Parker will unfortunately see Jones and Kirkpatrick about 78 percent of the time, as he plays on the outside quite often. Still, if this season has told us anything, it’s that these two corners are beatable, as they have allowed 20 receptions for 232 yards and two touchdowns in coverage this year, though just two catches for 20 yards were to Antonio Brown, who they did a great job with. As a matter of fact, they were doing all right until last week, when the Broncos wide receivers tore them up. You should just consider it a “bad day at the office” for them, and avoid Parker in daily fantasy lineups.
Jordan Cameron will miss this game due to a concussion, and the Bengals have been splitting snaps between C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Kroft. It’s best to just avoid tight ends for DFS in this game all together.