Week 8 kicks off with a bang Thursday when the Miami Dolphins travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots in an AFC East divisional matchup.
This game wouldn’t have moved the needle much a few weeks ago, but the Dolphins have looked like a juggernaut since interim head coach Dan Campbell took over after Joe Philbin’s firing, outscoring opponents 82-36 in two games. Miami hopes to continue that success against the 6-0 Patriots, who boast the best offense in the NFL.
Here’s our fantasy football start/sit advice for the notable players in Thursday night’s game.
Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill has not come as advertised this season, already tossing seven interceptions through six games. He is coming off his best week of the season in which he threw four touchdown passes against the Houston Texans, but he’s far from a sure thing despite the team’s recent improvement.
We’d like to see more consistency from the fourth-year pro before declaring him a must-start against a Bill Belichick defense. Tannehill is a middle-of-the-pack QB2 option. Start him if necessary.
Running Backs: Welcome to the party, Lamar Miller. The Dolphins’ lead back came into the season amid high expectations and was a dud through the first month. He exploded for 236 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns last week, though, and the Patriots rank 14th in the league with 110.3 rush yards allowed per game. Ride Miller’s hot streak and start him in Week 8.
Damien Williams and Jonas Gray should not be started.
Wide Receivers: Rishard Matthews has been sneaky productive for Miami this season, though it’s largely due to his four touchdown receptions. Jarvis Landry is the No. 1 option for Tannehill, though don’t be surprised if the Patriots throw double coverage against him like they did with New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall in Week 7.
Matthews could earn single coverage against Malcolm Butler, which feels like a matchup Butler should win. Sit Matthews, but play Landry unless you have three options definitely better than the latter.
Tight End: Jordan Cameron hasn’t done enough to warrant a start unless you have no other option, even though New England has allowed 11 passing touchdowns this season. Cameron hasn’t caught more than four passes in a game this season and has only one touchdown.
Defense/Special Teams: New England is scoring over 35 points per game. Even if Landry returns a punt — assuming the Patriots punt at all — it might not make up for the number of points the Pats put on the board. Sit Miami’s D.
New England Patriots
Quarterback: Tom Brady leads all fantasy players in points this season. This isn’t a question. Play Brady.
Running Backs: LeGarrette Blount hasn’t seen many touches this season, and while his usage certainly will increase if Dion Lewis sits out again, he’s probably not the best option against a terrific Miami front seven.
If Lewis returns, he should be in your lineups in PPR leagues but is a borderline option otherwise.
Wide Receivers: Finger issues aside, Julian Edelman has consistently been a top-10 receiver this season and, in PPR leagues, even more valuable at times. He’s a must-start.
Danny Amendola is a viable flex option. Amendola’s production has been sporadic, but against better defenses (and since Edelman’s injury) he’s seen an uptick in usage — including 15 catches and nearly 200 receiving yards the past two weeks.
Brandon LaFell should rebound and likely won’t drop several passes again, but you might want to wait and see how things shake out this week before inserting him into your lineup.
Keshawn Martin missed Week 7 with an injury, and the return of LaFell and increased time for Aaron Dobson don’t help him.
Start Edelman and Amendola. Sit LaFell, Dobson and Martin.
Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski should absolutely be in your lineup. Scott Chandler can’t be relied on to produce, and Michael Williams is essentially only used in blocking scenarios.
Defense/Special Teams: The Pats rank in the middle of the pack in most categories, so there are definitely better options available. Tannehill typically plays well against New England, too, so avoid the Patriots defense if possible.
Thumbnail photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Lamar Miller scores a touchdown