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Fantasy Football Thursday Night Football Primer: Dolphins vs. Bengals (Week 4)

by Derek Brown | @dbro_ffb | Featured Writer
Sep 28, 2022

Every week, I’ll be writing a comprehensive primer on every NFL matchup and all of the relevant players, matchups, pace and playcalling notes, and injuries. It covers everything you need to know when setting your lineups. But since that article is massive and requires a full pot of coffee, we’re also going to offer these more focused matchup overviews. Now, let’s dive into this Dolphins vs. Bengals matchup in Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football.

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If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals


Tua Tagovailoa: Seeing Tagovailoa as the QB6 might shock some, but he has been playing very well this season. Yes, his fantasy status has been puffed up by his immaculate Week 2. He has finished as the QB22, QB2, and QB23 in weekly scoring. Even excluding Week 2, though, his passing numbers stand up. Without that legendary performance (minimum 20 dropbacks), he is still 16th in PFF passing grade, second in yards per attempt and seventh in adjusted completion rate. This matchup against Cincinnati is tough. The Bengals are eighth in pass defense DVOA allowing the fourth-lowest success rate and EPA per dropback. They have given up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Tagovailoa falls into the low-end QB1/high-end QB2 bucket this week.

Joe Burrow: Burrow busted out of his slump last week in a big way. He finished Week 3 as the QB5 in fantasy, ranking fifth in PFF passing grade and eighth in yards per attempt. He should continue the 2021 throwback vibes in Week 4. Miami has struggled as a pass defense. They have relinquished the tenth-highest passing touchdown rate and yards per attempt. They are also third in success rate and fifth in EPA per dropback. Burrow should crush this secondary with plenty of time in the pocket. Miami ranks dead last in pressure rate in 2022. Burrow is a top-five quarterback option this week.

Running Backs

Weeks 1-3

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Chase Edmonds 41.1% 8% 49.1% 2
Raheem Mostert 42.9% 6% 44.% 3

Chase Edmonds: When it seems like Miami has decided on a backfield leader, we get hoodwinked. Miami has alternated the 1A role in this backfield through three weeks which means that Edmonds and Mostert will be frustrating dice rolls all year long. Despite Edmonds’s slight lead in route run rate, he’s seen his targets dwindle each week (4, 3, 1). He’s averaging a pitiful 9.7 touches and 44.3 total yards. The Bengals are a terrible matchup this week. Cincinnati allows the fifth-lowest rush success rate, 11th-lowest explosive run rate, and eighth-fewest rushing yards per game. They have also shut down receiving backs ranking ninth in DVOA. Edmonds is a dart throw RB3.

Raheem Mostert: Mostert’s weekly volume is a mirror image of Edmonds. He’s averaging 9.3 touches and 40.7 total yards. Unlike Edmonds (50th), Mostert has shown some juice, ranking 15th out of 58 running backs with at least ten carries in PFF’s elusive rating. Still, with the uneven usage and crapshoot red zone work in a tough matchup, Mostert falls in the same risky RB3 bucket this week.

Joe Mixon: Mixon left last week’s game due to an ankle injury, but reports are he’ll be good to go, so that’s how we’ll approach it. Mixon has been one of the most inefficient rushers in the NFL. The offensive line hasn’t been great, ranking 26th or worst in adjusted line yards, second-level yards, and open field yards, but Mixon isn’t creating any yards for himself. Out of 59 rushers with at least ten carries, he ranks 49th in PFF’s elusive rating and has the third-lowest yards after contact per attempt. He’s averaged 23.6 touches and 88.6 total yards through three games. Considering Mixon’s struggles, the Dolphins are a scary rushing matchup. They have allowed the seventh-lowest rushing success rate while also ranking second and fifth in adjusted line yards and second-level yards. Mixon’s best chance of walking away with a solid day could come in the passing game. While his route run rate is nauseating (41.3%), he’s drawn a 15.9% target share (sixth-best). Sadly he hasn’t been inefficient through the air either, ranking 23rd in yards per route run (minimum five targets), so the prospects aren’t amazing here either. Miami ranks 27th in DVOA against receiving backs with the sixth-most receptions and receiving yards. Mixon is best viewed as a volume RB2.

Wide Receivers

Tyreek Hill: Hill hasn’t shown any dropoff with the move to Miami. He’s the WR5 in fantasy, ranking ninth in target share. He’s garnered 35.3% of the team’s air yards while ranking second in yards per route among wide receivers (minimum ten targets). Hill will run about 61% of his routes on the perimeter against Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple, but the Dolphins could move him inside more this week to get him away from Awuzie. Hill leads the team in slot routes. Awuzie has allowed a 40.7% catch rate and 51.8 passer rating. Apple has given up a 75% catch rate and a 99.3 passer rating. If Hill gets into the slot more this week, he’ll see Mike Hilton, who has permitted a 70.6% catch rate and 85.4 passer rating. Hill is a weekly top-12 option at receiver.

Jaylen Waddle: This hasn’t been a 1A/1B situation. Miami has the lucky fortune of co-alphas. Waddle is tied with Hill at ninth in target share while seeing 41.5% of the team’s air yards. Hill leads the team with seven deep targets, but Waddle’s aDOT has been a shade higher (11.6 vs. 10.0). Waddle leads all wide receivers in yards per route run (minimum ten targets). He’s edged Hill out with four red zone targets (Hill, three). Waddle is also a top 15 wide receiver option who will run about 75% of his routes against Awuzie and Apple.

Ja’Marr Chase: Chase is in the middle of a sophomore efficiency slump despite his usage metrics remaining stellar. He ranks 13th in target share (27.8%), 17th in air yard share (35.2%), and 14th in weighted opportunity as the WR14. All of those numbers look fantastic, but when we look under the hood, we see that Chase is 52nd in yards per route run and 37th in YAC per reception (minimum ten targets). Some of this could be tied to Burrow’s struggles early and not solely to be laid at Chase’s feet. It’s worth mentioning, though. This is a magical get-right spot for Chase, running about 75% of his routes against Xavien Howard and Nik Needham. Each of these corners has struggled massively to open the season. Howard allows a 64.7% catch rate and 140.7 passer rating. He’s second in the NFL in receiving touchdowns allowed (three). Needham hasn’t been any better, surrendering a 70% catch rate and 143.3 passer rating. Chase is a top-ten wide receiver.

Tee Higgins: Higgins left last week’s game due to a brutal hit and possible concussion. We’ll have to monitor reports all week to see if he can suit up this week.

Tyler Boyd: Boyd has a 13.5% target share with 18.9% of the team’s air yards. Apparently, Boyd’s ears were burning after I wrote last week that Hurst had supplanted him as the team’s third receiving option. He responded with a 19.4% target share and 105 receiving yards (one score) in Week 3. Boyd will run about 84% of his routes against Kader Kohou in the slot. Kohou has allowed a 76.9% catch rate and 100.5 passer rating. Boyd is a low-end WR3/high-end WR4 if Higgins plays. If Higgins is out, Boyd is a WR3 with WR2 upside.

Tight Ends

Mike Gesicki: Gesicki isn’t playable with his current snap rate. In Week 3, he only handled a 5% target share with a 31.8% route run rate. Sadly this isn’t far off his full season marks of 5% and 50%. Bench him until these rates climb (if they do).

Hayden Hurst: Hurst is a decent streaming option again this week who could find himself inside the top 12 in Week 4. After tanking last week with a 5.6% target share and 2.9% of the air yards, Hurst has fallen to TE23 in fantasy points per game. We need to monitor practice reports, though. After dealing with a groin injury last week, his route per dropback rate dipped to 55.5%. This could easily happen again in Week 4 if he’s limited all week, so understand that Hurst carries more volatility than in Weeks 1-2 when his route run rate was at 80.4%. Overall he’s handled a 13.5% target share and is staring down a beautiful matchup. Miami is 30th in DVOA against tight ends, allowing the most receptions and second-most receiving yards in the NFL to the position.

*All data utilized in this article courtesy of FantasyPros, PFF, SharpFootball Stats, Football Outsiders, FTN, Rotoviz, and unless otherwise specified.*

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If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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