Monday Night Football
New England @ Miami
Team Totals: Patriots 29, Dolphins 18
Although Rob Gronkowski’s (suspension) absence is a concern for Tom Brady’s Week 14 ceiling – Brady has averaged 0.43 fewer touchdowns and 29.7 fewer yards per game with Gronk out of the lineup since he entered the league – this plum draw should help offset that worry against a porous Dolphins pass defense that ranks 28th in DVOA, will be without CB Cordrea Tankersley (ankle, shoulder), and has yielded top-ten results to three of its last four quarterbacks faced while allowing the NFL’s seventh-most touchdown passes (22). At very least, Brady should be a high-floor play with top-12 fantasy results in nine of his last 11 games and 300-plus yards and/or multiple TDs in ten of his last 11. Red-zone dominator Chris Hogan’s (shoulder) expected return should also help Brady overcome Gronk’s one-game loss. … The Patriots’ run game should paste Miami’s also-leaky run defense, which was exposed for a 196/963/4.91/6 rushing line by enemy backs in its last eight games and hammered by Dion Lewis specifically (15/112/0) when these clubs met in Week 12. Lewis has settled in as an every-week RB2 with 14-plus touches in six straight games. … Rex Burkhead is also an every-week fantasy starter with 15 touches in back-to-back games. As noted by Rich Hribar, Burkhead is tied for the NFL lead with six touches inside the five-yard line since Week 9; Lewis has only one. … James White remains fantasy irrelevant with single-digit touches in nine straight games.
Brady’s targets since the Pats’ Week 9 bye: Brandin Cooks 30; Gronk 29; Danny Amendola 21; Burkhead 15; White 12; Dwayne Allen 7; Lewis 6; Phillip Dorsett 3. … Chris Hogan is risky in his return from a four-game absence, but he cleared 60 yards and/or scored a touchdown in 6-of-7 games before going down and is still tied for the Patriots’ team lead in targets inside the ten-yard line (7) despite the time away. In a revenge game against his former team, Hogan is a playable WR3/flex. When Gronk missed Week 5 with a thigh injury, Hogan went 8/74/1 on a team-high 11 targets at Tampa Bay. … Cooks and Amendola each saw eight targets in the aforementioned Gronk-less game. Miami had no answers for Cooks’ speed when these clubs met in Week 12, coughing up 6/83/1 to the Pats’ 4.33 burner. Despite Hogan’s return, Cooks remains an elite WR1 in a gorgeous matchup with Gronkowski’s absence creating a target void. Amendola’s PPR appeal is increased but tempered by Hogan’s return. … Although Dwayne Allen logged a season-high 68% of the snaps when Gronk sat out Week 5, Allen ran only 15 routes, blocked on 70% of his plays, and didn’t so much as draw a target. Allen’s theoretical matchup is strong against a Dolphins defense allowing the league’s fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends, but he is a low-floor streamer.
Jay Cutler is a Week 14 avoid against a Pats defense that has held each of its last six quarterbacks faced to fantasy finishes of QB14 or worse, halting offensive production with a bend-but-don’t-break style. Cutler is a fantasy trainwreck with top-16 results in 1-of-10 starts. … Kenyan Drake is the most confident play on Miami’s side after logging Week 13 career highs in snaps (79%) and touches (26) as the Dolphins’ bellcow back, parlaying them into 141 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos’ typically stout defense. New England is much softer on the ground, allowing 4.99 yards per carry and the NFL’s fourth-most receiving yards (607) to backs. Drake would have caught more than three passes had last week’s blowout win not been so lopsided. Drake now projects to encounter negative game script, raising his PPR floor and ceiling. He’s a legitimate RB1 play with Damien Williams (shoulder) out.
Cutler’s post-Jay Ajayi target distribution: Jarvis Landry 28; Kenny Stills 26; DeVante Parker 24; Julius Thomas 16; Drake 13; Williams 10. … Healthy and suddenly dominating in what was always a talented secondary, the Patriots have put clamps on Landry (8/70/0), Michael Crabtree (6/51/0), Stills (3/47/0), Amari Cooper (3/28/1), Zay Jones (2/22/0), and Parker (1/5/0) in their last three games. In this rematch of Week 12 Fins-Pats, expect a similar cornerback approach with Stephon Gilmore shadowing Parker, Malcolm Butler on Stills, and dedicated double teams to Landry in obvious passing situations. Stills is a big-play-dependent WR4/flex dart throw, and Parker’s recent struggles suggest he’s no longer playable. Landry has five or more catches in 12-of-12 games and is always a high-floor WR2. Landry’s last six stat lines against the Pats are 8/70/0 > 9/76/1 > 10/135/0 > 6/72/0 > 6/71/0 > 8/99/0. … Thomas (5/52/0), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (8/46/1), Cameron Brate (5/68/1), Coby Fleener (3/33/1), Ed Dickson (3/62/0), and Ryan Griffin (5/61/1) have all produced at or above expectation in meetings with New England this year. Thomas is a serviceable streamer tight end in a game where Miami projects to play from behind.
Score Prediction: Patriots 34, Dolphins 17
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