Brad Pinkerton predicts the favorable matchups in previewing Week 11’s Thursday night game between the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.
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Rian Lindell, K, Bills. He’s not normally a strong fantasy option, but count Lindell among the sleeper kickers this week. No team has allowed more field-goal attempts than Miami, and Lindell has converted most of the 3-point opportunities Buffalo has given him (9-for-10). The Bills should be able to move the ball consistently this week and put Lindell in position to score. He’s a decent, one-week pickup if you need one.
Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins. Bush’s season hit a new low last week when he had just four carries for 21 yards and was benched for Daniel Thomas after losing a fumble. Bush is still the starter, though, and has a great chance to rebound Thursday night. Buffalo ranks dead last against the run and is allowing the most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to running backs. Plus, Miami should lean heavily on the run with the passing game struggling lately. Trust Bush as a No. 2 fantasy back this week.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills. Spiller should have the backfield all to himself Thursday night with Fred Jackson (concussion) already ruled out. It’s a tough matchup against Miami’s No. 5-ranked run defense, but Spiller is averaging an eye-popping 7.3 yards per carry this season and should get 20-plus totes as the Bills’ workhorse. He’s a sure-fire RB2 with RB1 upside this week and in the long-term.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills. Johnson has hauled in at least five catches in four of the last five games, with the only recent dud coming in Week 9 against a tough Houston defense. Johnson gets a favorable matchup this week, though, against Miami’s No. 28-ranked pass D, which has allowed the eight-most FPPG to WRs. He’s a solid, yet unspectacular, WR2.
Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins. Thomas took over for Bush last week, but still finished with just 10 touches for 55 yards in a blowout loss. We’re expecting a closer game this week and more touches for Thomas in a great matchup; Buffalo’s league-worst run D is allowing the most FPPG to RBs. Expect Miami to exploit that with Thomas. He’s worth a flex play.
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins. Even with Ryan Tannehill struggling the past two weeks, Hartline has taken advantage of great matchups, catching 16 passes for 186 yards. No touchdowns, of course, but Hartline remains the Dolphins’ go-to receiver. Miami’s gameplan will be to run, run, run Thursday night, but Tannehill will look Hartline’s way when necessary against the Bills, who are allowing the ninth-most FPPG to WRs. Hartline remains a steady WR3, especially in point-per-reception (PPR) leagues.
Scott Chandler, TE, Bills. Believe it or not, Chandler is the No. 10 fantasy TE in standard formats through 10 weeks, thanks to five TDs. It will be risky to rely on another score from Chandler this week, though, as Miami has allowed just one TD catch to a TE all season. Chandler doesn’t offer fantasy owners much more aside from his scoring potential. He’s a weak TE1 in this unfavorable matchup.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills. Although Fitzpatrick has been awful at times this season, he has typically exploited the weak defenses. Miami’s No. 28 pass D qualifies as a favorable matchup for just about any quarterback, as it has allowed 300-yard games to the likes of Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez (nearly twice), Kevin Kolb and Sam Bradford. That puts Fitzpatrick on the radar again as a fill-in fantasy QB.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins. Tannehill flopped in a plus matchup against the Titans last week, tossing three picks with no TDs. In fact, the rookie has just one TD pass in two games since returning from a knee injury. Whether it’s because of the bum knee or not, Tannehill is in a slump and is a risky start even in a favorable matchup against Buffalo’s 21st-ranked pass defense. Miami is more likely to exploit the Bills’ league-worst run defense than let the struggling Tannehill air it out, so don’t expect much from the Dolphins QB on Thursday night. He’s a desperation fill-in at best.
Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins. As with Tannehill, this is a nice matchup for Bess, but owners shouldn’t expect much from him with the Dolphins most likely leaning heavily on the run. He’s still in play as a low-end WR3 in PPR leagues as usual, but that’s about it.
Bills defense/special teams. Although the Dolphins are allowing the ninth-most FPPG to D/STs, Buffalo has been one of the worst, and most disappointing, fantasy defenses all season. This is a matchup play for desperate owners, but you can likely find a more reliable defense against a similarly generous opponent.
Dolphins defense/special teams. The Dolphins D/ST has been a surprisingly productive fantasy unit in the right matchups. That could include the mistake-prone Bills, who are allowing the 12th-most FPPG to D/STs, thanks in large part to 22 turnovers. Still, Miami is a low-upside fantasy unit in a slightly above-average matchup. You can probably do better, but Miami’s D/ST is at least a fallback option.
Dan Carpenter, K, Dolphins. Carpenter, who’s not normally on the radar in Miami’s shaky offense, was a bust in a favorable fantasy matchup last week against Tennessee. That’s why fantasy owners shouldn’t be too optimistic about another plus matchup against Buffalo this week. You can find another kicker in a better offense.
Donald Jones, WR, Bills. Jones has emerged as a legitimate receiving weapon behind Johnson lately, catching 16 passes for 186 yards and two TDs in the last three games. Miami has a stout run D, and if it is able to slow down Spiller at all, the Bills should take to the air against a much softer secondary that’s allowing the eighth-most FPPG to WRs. That could mean a few extra targets for Jones. He’s a savvy WR3 gamble this week if you’re in a pinch.
Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphins. This is an intriguing matchup against a TE-friendly Bills defense, but Fasano isn’t involved in the offense enough to trust. He has just one catch in each of the last three games. Banking on that one catch this week being in the end zone is too risky for fantasy owners. Look elsewhere for your fill-in TE.
Tashard Choice, RB, Bills. Choice should be Spiller’s backup Thursday with Jackson out, but it’s unclear how much work he’ll see and this is not a great matchup to gamble on.