Week #14 New England Patriots Fantasy Football Rundown

Week #14 New England Patriots Fantasy Football Rundown

    Fantasy Projections for New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins

In Week #13, the New England Patriots had their best defensive game of the 2018 season. Their defense has allowed an average of 21.6 points per game, 369.2 total yards, 262.5 of which have been through the air and 106.7 on the ground. Against the Vikings, they held them under all of those averages. The defense held a respectable Vikings offense to only 10 points while limiting Kirk Cousins to 201 passing yards, second lowest of his season, and the Vikings rushing attack to 95 rushing yards on 13 carries.

They sacked Cousins twice, hit him six times and created two interceptions. Devin McCourty led them with eight tackles, six of them solo while brother Jason contributed six tackles, five of them solo.

The offense was also better than their season norms. They average 27.6 points per game, 395.1 total yards, 273.4 of which comes through the air and 121.7 yards on the ground per game. Against the Vikings in Week #13, Tom Brady threw for 311 yards and was 24 for 32 with a touchdown and one interception for a Quarterback Rating of 83.1. The running backs combined for 160 yards on 39 attempts, including seven carries for 20 yards from Rex Burkhead, in his return from Injured Reserve, and four rushes for five yards and two touchdowns for the mighty, fleet afoot, and spry James Develin. Even the Patriots shifty quarterback rushed twice for five yards as he passed a career milestone.Tom Brady is now a 1,000 yard rusher. For his career.. Of course. Not the season.

In Week #14, the Patriots face a bigger challenge, their history, than their actual opponent on the field, the Miami Dolphins, who still have the playoffs on their mind and within their sights.

In 2018, the Dolphins are a respectable 6-6, three games behind the Patriots in the AFC East, but only one game behind the sixth place Baltimore Ravens for the last Wild Card berth. The biggest challenge for the Patriots Sunday is their 2018 history of struggles on the road and their track record in Miami at what was the Orange Bowl and is now called Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

In 2018, the Patriots three losses have all been on the road and their worst performances, even in victory have as well. They scored 20 points in a loss at Jacksonville against the Jaguars and 10 against a very mediocre Detroit Lions team in Detroit and a respectable team in a loss against the Titans in Tennessee. The Patriots did score 38 in a road victory at Chicago, but it took one of their best special teams efforts of recent memory to do it and for those that saw the game, it wasn’t impressive.

In Miami, the Patriots have lost four of their last five and on the road this season the Patriots have lost three of six. For a team that has won 10 games in each of the last SIXTEEN Seasons, to have lost 80% of their games against anyone, anywhere and to have lost 50% of their road games in any one season, it says something. Thats where the real challenge will be for the Patriots. Overcoming history more so than a Dolphins team that has been relatively average in spite of a 6-6 record and a legitimate chance at a Wild Card berth.

Relevant Rankings: Miami Dolphins

Defense

* 30th in Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game (144.7)

* 12th in Rushing Touchdowns Allowed (9)      

* 12th in Passing Yards Allowed Per Game (254.8)

* 21st in Passing Touchdowns Allowed (23) – Tied with the Patriots

* 2nd in Interceptions (19)

Offense

* 24th in Rushing Yards Per Game (102.7)

* 32nd in Rushing Touchdowns (4)

* 23rd in Rushing Attempts Per Game (23.9)

* 28th in Passing Yards Per Game (199.4). One of only five teams that average less than 200 passing yards per game.

* Tied for 14th in Passing Touchdowns (21) – One more than the New England Patriots (20) who are tied with the Cleveland Browns.

* 14th in Interceptions thrown (10)

Fantasy Sports Rankings:

Points Per Game Allowed Per Position

QB: 17th in Points Per Game Allowed (17.5)

RB: 26th in PPGA (27.9)

WR: 11th in PPGA (34.8)

TE: 19th in PPGA (13.5) –

— 31st in Touchdowns Allowed to Tight Ends (8)

Week #14 Fantasy Predictions:

New England Patriots

The Dolphins biggest statistical weakness is rushing yards allowed. That plays right into what the Patriots have tried to do this season. The Dolphins allow the third most rushing yards per game (144.7) while the Patriots attempt the fifth most rushing attempts per game (29.3). Volume rushing attempts increases a Fantasy running backs floor – or potential for success – and that bodes well for Sony Michel, who averages 4.5 yards per carry, and Rex Burkhead today. Not so much for James White who is used almost exclusively as a receiver.

The Dolphins have also allowed the second most passing touchdowns to tight ends, which bodes well for Rob Gronkowski and his Fantasy owners. Gronk could use a touchdown to help salvage what has been an extremely disappointing season and whose owners would desperately appreciate a big day in the Fantasy playoffs from a player they had to use a high draft pick to own and who have received very little in return on their investment this season.

The data suggests that the Patriots will run heavily with Sony Michel and look to exploit Miami’s struggles with tight ends in the red zone. They have relied heavily on James White this season and they went back to him against the Vikings in Week #13 after a short hiatus in Weeks #11 and #12 against the Titans and Jets, so we can expect a heavy dose today.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are a little more difficult to predict because their offense doesn’t have any significant trends with the one exception, they aren’t very good at anything. They rank 23rd or worse in the relevant rushing and passing categories and while they have some talented players, they lack an impact star.

The Patriots have had trouble defending running backs in the passing game and quarterbacks who can escape the pocket and run because they lack speed at linebacker and often play cautiously by having their safeties help the cornerbacks in coverage over the top to prevent the big play. Against the Vikings, who have two quality receivers, they focused on stopping the pass, and Dalvin Cook was able to rush for 98 yards in limited carries. The Dolphins don’t have an Adam Thielen or even a Stefon Diggs at wide receiver, so the Patriots are likely to play more straight up and if that’s their game plan then the Dolphins should struggle to run the ball while having some opportunities for receptions and chunk yards for their wide receivers. The Patriots strength on defense has been against the run, while the Dolphins have been unwilling to fully utilize a talented Kenyan Drake in both their running and passing attacks.

This profiles to be a typical Patriots game where they allow chunks of passing yards and a lot of receptions while doing an effective job shutting down the run. The Patriots defense, on the whole, has been better as of late. They have been getting more pressure with Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy and they have been willing to blitz more often, something we haven’t seen here in New England in what seems like decades. Sacks and interceptions are possible today, but so are passing yards and receptions for the Dolphins. Also, look for some receptions out of the backfield for Kenyan Drake and while I don’t expect a huge amount of volume in touches and targets, Drake could have one of his more productive day in total yards from scrimmage.

Fantasy Projections/Predictions

New England Patriots

James White, RB

The Patriots had gotten away from James White in a loss to the Titans and a win at New York against the Jets, but they returned with heavy volume in the passing game against the Vikings. Their wide receivers have struggled to create separation from defenders and with Gronkowski’s injuries and relatively poor play, White has become one of the main ways they move the sticks between the 20’s. Expect more of that, out of necessity more than anything, today. Rex Burkhead is muddying up the waters with his return and it should eat into Whites targets slightly, but not enough to drastically alter expectations for White. Burkhead will be more of a hindrance to Sony Michel’s carries than Whites passing targets.

Five to eight receptions, five to eight rushing attempts and 100-120 total yards from scrimmage is a safe expectation for James White today. White hasn’t had a touchdown, rushing or receiving, in three weeks, but with 10 already on the season and a difficult game against a Miami defense that has allowed 32 total touchdowns and 27.9 Fantasy points per game to running backs, this is a day you may want to invest in White in Daily Fantasy as well.

Rob Gronkowski, TE

It sounds like a broken record, but with the tight end position so vacant of relevant alternatives, owners have to continue to start Gronk and hope he makes a couple catches down field and is a target in the red zone. The Dolphins have allowed the second most touchdowns to tight ends and Gronk is certainly due for a TD or two. Don’t spend the high price in DFS, but keep your chin up. If there is a reckoning coming, this is the week Gronk provides for his owners.

Sony Michel, RB

Miami’s biggest weakness on defense is rushing yards allowed while the Patriots are fifth in rushing attempts per game.That means high volume and high potential for success. Michel’s heaviest workload of the season came against these Dolphins in Week #4 when he rushed for 112 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. Owners can expect similar totals Sunday.

The return of Rex Burkhead will eat into Michel’s overall touches, but it could keep him fresher as well. His total touches and juicy matchup make Michel a RB2 in yearly leagues while his mediocre results in the red zone give me pause to praise his potential in DFS. If he is reasonably priced and it works for your overall lineup then he isn’t a bad play in daily Fantasy, but be selective in your usage rather than build your DFS lineup around him today.

Tom Brady, QB

Brady has been fairly good in his passing yards per game, but he hasn’t thrown a lot of touchdowns and in todays pass happy league, that’s what makes or breaks a Fantasy quarterback. Combine his lack of TDs and the Patriots struggles in Miami, Brady is outside my Top 10 rankings for quarterbacks and should be avoided in DFS as well. Miami lost one of their starting cornerbacks to a knee injury, but that isn’t enough to make me change my projections on Brady. 225 passing yards, one touchdown and a couple interceptions is significantly more likely than 350 yards, four touchdowns and a dominant day. If you have alternatives, and there isn’t any reason at this point why a Fantasy playoff team wouldn’t, Brady should be on your bench.

Julian Edelman, WR

With the Patriots struggles in Miami and Edelman dealing with a lingering foot injury, I am reluctant to recommend Edelman in yearly leagues or in DFS. He hasn’t been a lock for 10 receptions or 90-110 yards per game this season like he had been in the past and he has never been a big touchdown guy. Now, they travel to Florida where the Patriots have a difficult time after a three reception, 25 yard receiving day at home against the Vikings. In a must-win Fantasy playoff game I want more security from a player when his ceiling is low due to a lack of big play and touchdown potential. I would bench Edelman in al formats if you have legitimate alternatives. Five to Seven receptions and 60 yards is certainly possible, but eight to ten catches and 120 yards and a touchdown looks to be impossible today. Chase other options with less of a track record and more of a ceiling for a huge day.

Josh Gordon, WR

He is a must-start in yearly leagues and a risky, relatively low ceiling option in DFS. He is the Patriots down field threat and he has 58 receiving yards or more to go along with two touchdowns in his last four games. He is a safe, reliable Flex wide receiver, but he hasn’t been explosive enough to even dream about a huge game with multiple touchdowns. Sit him in DFS.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins don’t have many must-start or impact Fantasy players and even though the Patriots defense can be had for yards and receptions, they have played better recently and the Dolphins lack the players to fully exploit what is usually a good matchup for offensive opponents. Ryan Tannehill isn’t a guy to feel good about as a Fantasy starter and he hurts the value of his wide receivers as well. Combine those realities in the passing game with the fact that the Patriots are fairly good against the run and the Dolphins are 24th in rushing yards, 23rd in rushing attempts and 32nd in rushing touchdowns per game and you have a weak group of options for Fantasy success. To pile on, their inability or unwillingness to fully utilize Kenyan Drake makes me even more Debbie-Downer on Dolphins in Fantasy this week.

Kenyan Drake, RB

The case for Drake Ain’t Good. The Patriots have only allowed four rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns to running backs this season. Drake has only 14 rushing attempts once this season and that was on opening day against the Titans. And, he hasn’t had more than eight carries in a game since before Halloween. In the passing game, he has one game with seven receptions, another with five, and in the Dolphins previous game against the Patriots at Gillette he had three rushing attempts and one reception. The head-scratcher and unfortunate fact is that Frank Gore has consistently received more rushing attempts than Drake. Even if Drake performs, the touches and targets are diminished by Gores presence and Miami’s decision to game plan with Gore as their lead running back.

The one sign of life fior Drake is that he has a touchdown in consecutive games and three total in those two games. The Patriots allow their fair share of yards in the passing game to running backs, so the opportunity is there for 60-100 yards from scrimmage and possibly even a touchdown.

His skill set and athletic ability should make Drake a must-start Flex while Miami’s usage of him and his overall lack of production makes him a bench player in a tough matchup this week. Drake becomes a low-end RB2 once he leaves Miami, but until then, he rides the pine.

Kenny Stills, WR

Regardless of the potential for yards and receptions from wide receivers against the Patriots defense, the targets and the production hasn’t been there for Stills. The matchup isn’t good enough to throw the kitchen sink at it, especially in the Fantasy playoffs. Stills is a sit.

Danny Amendola, WR

Amendola has become the main target in the Miami passing game, but it has only resulted in one touchdown, 48 total receptions in 11 games and 42.6 yards per game. He caught only one ball against Indianapolis in Week #13, but he had seven, five and five receptions in the three games prior.

Amendola has a matchup that Fantasy owners should be moderately excited about and a group of wide receivers that aren’t good enough and a quarterback not effective enough to fully exploit the matchup. Amendola is sure to be hyped up and extremely motivated to beat his old team and anecdotally that has some relevance. But, he isn’t good enough to crack a starting lineup for a playoff calibre Fantasy team. Sit him in all formats even though there is a chance for 8-10 receptions and 100 yards from scrimmage. I expect either Stills or Amendola to have a “Fantasy Viable” day, but it’s not a sure thing and it’s too difficult to predict which one. My bet is on Amendola because Kenny Stills is more likely to draw Stephon Gilmore the majority of the day on the majority of his routes.

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