Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills BUF -13.5, O/U 43.5
The Buffalo Bills should blow the doors off of the Miami Dolphins. With Skylar Thompson under center for the Dolphins, this game will get ugly, and it will get ugly quick.
The Miami Dolphins passing game still funnels through Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Reek was banged up a little bit in Week 18’s win over the Jets but he did return, both Reek and Waddle are likely to suit up in this game and play without limitations. The issue with this offense is the person who is under center, which is 3rd string Rookie QB, Skylar Thompson. Thompson has played three games this season in which he has thrown the ball at least 21 times and has yet to top 166 passing yards with the insane weapons he has at WR. There is a reason Thompson was a 7th round draft pick and Mike McDaniel’s offense is enough to make him a formidable passer at this stage of his career. Buffalo is susceptible to the air but it is unlikely Thompson is able to take advantage of their weakness. Tyreek Hill is worth a look in DFS strictly because on a small slate like this it is rare to get a talent such as Reek with the volume he will see and the great matchup he specifically has at less than 30% ownership. McDaniel is going to get him the ball anyway he can because it’s their only chance at a win. Waddle is worth a look as well but I’m sticking strictly to Hill from the Miami Dolphins myself.
On the ground, it is Wilson who is leading the way for the Dolphins. Mostert has been getting the starts but Wilson is taking over shortly after and has now out-snapped and out carried Mostert in each of the last three games since Wilson missed Week 15. That Week 15 game just so happened to be against the Buffalo Bills, where Mostert had some success, rushing for 136 yards on 17 carries with a long run of 67 early in that game. Taking away that 67 yard run, which obviously happened and I hate to do but for a closer context of how Mostert ran, he had 69 yards on 16 carries otherwise which is still a solid day on the ground against this stout rush defense. Salvon Ahmed even had some success that week, running for 43 yards and a score on six carries. So with Mostert missing practice all week and unlikely to go, Ahmed will spell Wilson to the tune of 4-5 carries with limited production. I think the Dolphins are going to do their best to run the ball in this game but will be unsuccessful. There is a path for Wilson to be viable in DFS however as I do think there is a solid chance he can see an abnormal amount of targets to the range of 6-8. If the Bills get out early, which everything indicates they will, the Dolphins will be forced to throw with Thompson which will open the door for a lot of dump offs and screens.
Josh Allen hasn’t been himself since he suffered an elbow injury back in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings. Since then, he has only topped 300 yards one time and has thrown more than 2 TDs just twice. Prior to that, he had topped 300 passing yards in five games with another landing at 297 and had 3+ TDs in four of those ten games. Ironically, the best game he has had since then came in Week 15 against this very same Miami Dolphins defense, a game in which he threw for 304 yards and had four passing TDs with no picks. That game was played in extreme cold and there was a blizzard for the fourth quarter. Allen also ran the ball for 77 scoreless yards on ten rushing attempts in that game. Allen’s rushing totals always skyrocket in high value games such as this one. Here are the games that I view as “high value” and meaningful games since the playoffs started last year:
Wild Card Round (1/15/22) vs. NE: 6/66/0
Divisional Round (1/23/22) @ KC: 11/68/0
Week 1 @ LAR: 10/56/1
Week 4 vs. BAL: 11/70/1
Week 6 @ KC: 12/32/0
Week 14 vs. NYJ: 10/47/1
Week 15 vs. MIA: 10/77/0
The concern here is that it turned into a situation like last year when they blew the brakes off of the New England Patriots to the score of 47-17 in the first round of the playoffs. However, in that game they were up 27-3 at half time and while Josh Allen only threw the ball 25 times, he completed 21 of them for 308 yards and five TDs. This game feels like a similar situation where the Bills aren’t going to take their foot off of the gas and will want to bury the Dolphins early. Using Josh Allen is a great path this weekend for DFS and I think both Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis are viable options at WR for him. I also like the line for Dawson Knox to get in the endzone at +210. Cole Beasley is also worth mentioning as a dart throw on Draftkings. They will be looking to get Beasley back acclimated for their Super Bowl Run and being up early opens the door for that to happen. Beasley has seen only three targets in his four games since returning.
Last week against the Patriots, Devin Singeltary took a bit of a hit in playing time due to fumbling the ball away. He ended up only carrying the ball seven times for 29 yards while James Cook saw 55.9% of the offensive snaps, running the ball nine times for 45 yards and out targeting Singletary two to one. It is fair to assume a near 50/50 split in this one with the Bills riding the hot hand. As of recently, that hot hand has been James Cook. I’m avoiding this backfield for DFS purposes as the Miami Dolphins have a surprisingly good rush defense. Since Week 10 they have only given up 3.7 YPC and have the 4th overall rush DVOA in the NFL. However, if one of the backs is more of a value, it is James Cook who has a favorable rushing line of 35.5 and an anytime TD prop of +210.
Buffalo should blow the doors off of the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are going to be without their QB, Tua Tagovailoa, and their starting LT, Terron Armstead. Don’t expect the Bills to come out soft though. They will come out firing and want to put the Dolphins away early. The Dolphins weakness is the air and Josh Allen is going to sling it. Volume won’t be an issue.
New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings MIN -3, O/U 48
These two teams met as recently as Week 16 during the regular season in a game that should have gone to overtime. This game was close the entire way through until the Giants had to go on a game tying drive with 3 minutes left, which they did. The Vikings then drove to kick a game winning 61-yard field goal as time expired. I expect this game to be another close one on Sunday afternoon. I should also bring up that Kirk Cousins historically plays poorly on prime time, which this game is considered. I don’t think we should base our analysis on that, however.
Daniel Jones has proved this year that he belongs as a starting QB in the NFL. He had by far his best year as a pro under Brian Daboll, throwing for a career high 3,205 yards and a career low 5 interceptions. He also ran the ball 120 times for 708 yards and seven TDs. He did all of this with very poor weapons at his disposal, mainly throwing to guys like Richie James, Isaiah Hodgins, and Darius Slayton. It also just so happens that all four of the players mentioned had fantastic games against this Vikings defense just a few weeks ago. Daniel Jones went 30/42 passing for 334 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He added 34 scoreless yards on four carries on the ground. Isaiah Hodgins led the way in the air, catching eight of his 12 targets for 89 yards and a score while Richie James had a similar output on 11 targets, catching 8 for 90 without a score. Slayton was in third of the trio, catching four of his six targets for 79 yards. All three of them had long receptions of 33 (James), 32 (Slayton), and 29 (Hodgins). I bring this up because I envision something similar happening during this game. The Vikings have done absolutely nothing this season, especially as of late, to fix their defensive woes through the air. The Giants offense is coming off of a rest week and should be well rested heading into this game.
Saquon Barkley is back to full health this season and is looking to continue his season at full health after he rested in Week 18. Back in Week 16 against the Vikings, Barkley saw 14 carries for 84 yards and a score, including the game tying 27-yard TD run with two minutes left in the game. The Vikings are a run funnel defense and still aren’t very good against the run, ranking as the 19th best rush DVOA in the NFL and giving up 4.2 YPC since Week 10 which ranks in the middle of the pack at 12th in the NFL over that span. I don’t think Barkley will have any issue putting up fantasy points in this one and should find the endzone in a game that has the highest point total on the slate.
Expect to get a lot of volume from the passing game in this one. The last time these teams met Kirk Cousins had a ton of success throwing the ball, completing 34 of his 48 pass attempts for 299 yards and three scores without a turnover. He targeted Justin Jefferson and TJ Hockenson both 16 times with Jefferson coming down with a 12/133/1 line and Hockenson a 13/109/2 line. I expect more of the same with some Adam Thielen mixed in. Thielen didn’t have much working for him in this matchup before, only able to catch one of five targets for a measly six scoreless yards. It is worth noting that the Vikings have thrown the ball twice inside the five the last two weeks with both targets going to Thielen, who has the most targets on the team from inside the five yard line.
Dalvin Cook should have plenty of room to eat in this one. The Giants have the absolute worst rush DVOA in the NFL. They have given up the 2nd most YPC on the season and 3rd most since Week 10. They have ironically only given up the 11th most half PPR points per game for being shredded on the ground. This is due to RBs not getting much air work against them. This is caused by a severe lack of talent on their defense for the type of defense that they run. They blitz at by far the highest rate in the NFL so they live and die by the blitz. Typically against a team that blitzes at a high rate, and is getting home to the QB, you generate a quick release offense to get the ball out of your QB’s hands. This is done by screens, dump off passes, integrating the TE in quick passes and WRs on slants and timing routes. However, the Giants don’t get to the QB at a high rate. This allows the offense to protect their QB for the extra second or two to get the ball down the field where the Giants are extremely vulnerable. However, with all of that said, Dalvin Cook ran the ball 14 times for 64 yards in their matchup in Week 16. I expect him to see about 15ish carries and maybe a reception or two with an increased chance of falling into the endzone rather than Cousins throwing for all of the Vikings TDs.
I can see the Giants pulling off the upset over the Vikings but I don’t think it is going to happen. I don’t feel strongly about the Vikings winning but I do think they pull it off. There is something to be said about winning close games and the Vikings have been able to do it at a higher clip this year than anyone else in the NFL. I think they pull off a close one and advance to the Divisional Round of games.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals CIN -10, O/U 40.5
As this article is coming out, it is looking more and more like Lamar Jackson will miss this game. It will be either Tyler Huntley or Anthony Brown under center for the Ravens. Both of those QBs are undrafted guys and it doesn’t pose well for the Ravens. The Bengals are coming into this game as one of the healthier teams in the playoffs but with limited success against this Ravens defense this year. If the Ravens can keep the game close and play solid defense, they can steal it late. If the Bengals come out firing and score two quick TDs, it is all over for the Ravens.
Regardless of who plays QB for the Ravens, it is a downgrade from Lamar Jackson. Last week Anthony Brown, an undrafted rookie FA, got his first NFL start and his most playing time of his young career. He threw two interceptions early that cost the Ravens badly as the Ravens overall had three turnovers that turned into 21 or the Bengals 27 points. Brown finished throwing 19/44 for 286 yards without a score to go with those two picks. He didn’t run the ball at all as I think the Ravens wanted Brown to get used to throwing the ball and as much experience as possible in case he had to start this game. During his senior year at Oregon, Brown ran the ball 151 times for 658 yards and nine scores so the rushing ability is there to go with this offense. If Huntley starts, look for a dink and dunk offense that is going to try and sustain drives. If Brown starts, the Ravens are going to take more shots down field but be more predictable with the run. Either way, it is not ideal for the Ravens. But with how well the ground game is moving and how well their defense is playing, this game is not a total loss.
JK Dobbins has been the best runner in the NFL since returning from his mid season IR stint. He has carried the ball at least 12 times in each of those four games, accumulating 397 rushing yards and having 93 or more in three of them. In those four games, he has a long run of 44 (PIT), 37 (CLE), 14 (ATL), and 22 (PIT). I expect the Ravens to rely heavily on Dobbins in this game if they want to win. I love his rushing lines of over 61.5 rushing yards, over 14.5 longest rush, and 1+ score at +215 odds. In terms of DFS, he will need 100+ yards and a score to pay off his price tag and 2+ to bring you a GPP winning play. I would rather just throw that on the betting lines to accomplish those feats.
Since losing to the Ravens in Week 5, the Bengals have won 10 out of 11 contests to finish the season at 12-4. In that Week 5 loss, Burrow was without WR Tee Higgins and the offense sputtered due to it. Burrow was only able to accumulate 217 yards passing on 35 attempts with one score and one turnover. The Ravens won 19-17 in a game that was close the entire time. Fast forward to Week 18 when the Bengals took down the Ravens 27-16 and we really don’t get a clearer picture from that matchup. Burrow still only had 215 yards on 42 attempts with one score and one turnover. He had one of his stud WRs drop a wide open TD in Tee Higgins which would have drastically changed his stat line. However, this Ravens defense is stout from top to bottom. I wouldn’t bank on a Burrow ceiling game here and I like his under 265.5 passing yards line. His WRs are likely going to be a bit hobbled as Tee Higgins will not be 100%, if he plays. He has not practiced all week as this article is being written but both Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd should be close to top health. Chase has a track record of demolishing the Ravens due to his absurd 2021 season against them, gaining 326 yards on 15 receptions last year but this year has been held somewhat in check for Chase’s standards, catching seven balls for 50 scoreless yards in their first matchup and eight for 86 and a score in their second matchup in Week 18. I expect him to fall somewhere in the middle. He’ll see about 10-12 targets and catch around 6 balls for 60-70 yards but is always a threat to take it to the house on any play.
Joe Mixon had some success in Week 5 when these teams met but the Ravens are a completely different defense since adding Roquan Smith. Since adding Smith the Ravens defense has only given up 3.6 YPC to opposing backs and the 7th fewest PPR points per game to opposing backs. Joe Mixon is coming off of catching all five targets for 41 scoreless yards in Week 18 but he only ran for 27 yards on 11 carries. I wouldn’t bank on the receiving work being there as much this week either as the Ravens were laying down and conceding defeat while running a vanilla game plan. I’m not interested in the Bengals ground game this weekend.
This game is going to be a defensive struggle and it will come down to which offenses will be able to finish their drives with TDs over FGs. Both defenses are playing well and the first team to get to 20 will win. The Bengals are going to have a hard time finding rhythm while the Ravens are going to have a hard time finding explosive plays and sustaining drives. I think the Ravens can pull off the upset, regardless of who is at QB and I would be shocked if they don’t cover.