Thursday Night Football
Miami @ Baltimore
Team Totals: Ravens 20, Dolphins 17
This is an ugly-looking game from a fantasy perspective, pitting against each other defensive-minded teams that rank 31st (Dolphins) and 23rd (Ravens) in points scored with downward-spiraling Joe Flacco and 33-year-old longtime backup Matt Moore at quarterback. Flacco has the best matchup of the two against the pass-funnel Dolphins, who rank 27th in DVOA against the pass but third against the run and are allowing a league-high 71.1% completion rate. 38-year-old Josh McCown flamed Miami for four all-purpose touchdowns and last week’s QB7 result. Unfortunately, Flacco’s to-date production and pass-catcher shortage inspire little confidence he will take advantage. He has finished as a top-20 fantasy passer in just 1-of-7 starts and hasn’t reached 240 yards in a game this year. Streaming Flacco would require a significant leap of matchup-based faith. … Although Alex Collins is technically Baltimore’s lead back, he has yet to play more than 30% of the team’s offensive snaps in a game this season and hasn’t drawn a passing-game target since Week 4. The Dolphins’ run defense did show some signs of Weeks 6-7 slippage, permitting a combined 37/191/5.16/1 rushing line to Falcons and Jets running backs. Still, Collins’ rotational, early-down-grinder usage caps his floor and ceiling. He is a touchdown-or-bust flex option versus Miami. … Buck Allen is the higher-floor, preferred PPR play with 13-plus touches in 5-of-7 games and team highs in targets (39) and receptions (31) on the year. Miami yielded a combined 7/81/0 receiving line to Jets backs last week, while Baltimore’s pass-catcher weakness stabilizes Allen’s usage.
Flacco’s Weeks 1-7 target distribution: Allen 39; Ben Watson 35; Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace 28; Breshad Perriman 18; Nick Boyle and Michael Campanaro 17; Chris Moore 16; Griff Whalen 6. … As the Dolphins have allowed the NFL’s fourth-most receptions (39) and eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends, Watson is worth streamer discussion with five or more catches in four of the last six weeks and a team-high five targets inside the ten-yard line. Watson missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, however, and beat writers are unsure about his availability. Boyle is next in line for lead tight end duties. … Ravens receivers are even more of a quagmire. Perriman (concussion) seems likeliest to play, but he has gained a sub-Zay Jonesian 26 scoreless yards on 18 targets this season. Wallace is trying to return from his own concussion on a short week. Maclin (shoulder) was supposed to play last week, but he did not. Even if these guys are active against the Dolphins, it’s uncertain how healthy or productive they will be. We do know Campanaro (shoulder) and Chris Matthews (hamstring) won’t play on Thursday night.
Despite the up-and-down nature of their running game, the Dolphins’ best chance at generating Week 8 offense will be to feed Jay Ajayi against a leaky Ravens defense that was throttled for a 174/774/4.45/5 rushing line by enemy running backs in its last five games and woke up Latavius Murray (18/113/1) last week despite DT Brandon Williams’ (foot) return. Although Ajayi’s inconsistent results have frustrated, he has logged carry totals of 23 > 26 > 25 in the last three weeks and remains a volume-secure RB1 play. … Matt Moore is one of the NFL’s best backups, but this isn’t an appealing spot to stream him on a short-week road trip to Baltimore, which ranks No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA and has surrendered the NFL’s second-lowest completion rate (55.2%) and third-lowest passer rating (70.6). Since the beginning of last season, the Ravens have allowed 16.5 points per game at home compared to 24.0 points per game on the road. This year, only 1-of-7 quarterbacks to face Baltimore have posted top-18 fantasy results.
DeVante Parker (ankle) appears to be a game-time decision after practicing on a limited basis this week. Parker has played three snaps since Week 4, so I would want to see him do something positive before firing him up in season-long leagues. … Jarvis Landry should be Moore’s go-to guy on Thursday night. Moore targeted Landry on a team-high eight attempts off the bench in last week’s comeback win over the Jets, and Landry’s receiving lines in Moore’s four 2016-2017 starts were 3/108/1, 3/29/0, 9/76/1, 11/102/0. Fire the Landry cannons especially aggressively if Parker does not play. … Kenny Stills was his typically volatile, big-play-dependent self in Moore’s last-year starts, tallying stat lines of 1/52/1, 3/35/1, 4/41/1, 5/82/0. Stills’ five targets ranked second on the team after Moore came off the bench in last week’s win. Against a stout Ravens secondary, however, Stills remains a dart-throw WR4/flex. … Julius Thomas is a high-risk Week 8 streamer after being the recipient of just 1-of-21 Week 7 pass attempts from Moore. The matchup does work in Thomas’ favor against a Ravens defense permitting the NFL’s ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends, including an AFC-high six touchdown catches. Thomas has yet to draw more than five targets in a game this season. He has cleared 30 yards in 1-of-6 games.
Score Prediction: Ravens 23, Dolphins 17
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