The Patriots are playing their third consecutive division game, and their second against the Dolphins in those three weeks. They rolled over Miami 35-17 the first meeting, and they're on track for a repeat on Monday Night Football this week. With the fantasy playoffs getting underway, this week will be especially important fantasy-wise.
This is actually a tough game to forecast for Tom Brady. He shredded Miami for four TDs last time, but he hasn't passed for 260 yards in back to back weeks now and he'll be without Rob Gronkowski thanks to the tight end's one-game suspension. Do I think he's still a high-quality option? Yes. If you're in the playoffs and you have Brady, he probably played a large part in your success. It's important not to over-think and needlessly tinker when you already have a winning formula. But at the same time, if you have another high-quality starter as your backup, this week might be one of the few times you could consider benching TB12. Now that I've said that, watch him explode for 5 TDs. At least forecasting Jay Cutler's output is easy: you should never start him. Ever.
Dion Lewis was effective once again against a stout Bills front, gaining 92 yards on just 15 carries. The problem is that Rex Burkhead is quickly becoming one of fantasy's premier TD vultures, and can also contribute outside the red zone to boot. Burkhead is the guy to own for now, but Lewis still makes a quality flex or lower-end RB2. Meanwhile, James White caught four passes last week--it was good to see him get back into the mix after a few dismal weeks, but outside of the deepest PPR leagues he's still a non-factor. Miami's Kenyan Drake exploded for 120 rushing yards last week, but the Pats bottled him up for just 20 on 9 attempts. Call him a sleeper if you want, but the chances of him repeating that performance against New England (especially considering New England's success against him in the first place) are fairly slim. He should be a good flex play thanks to Damien Williams' injury, but anything more than that is wishful thinking.
Dion Lewis: 10 points
103 rushing yards (10 points)
ESPN's Mike Reiss has reported that "signs are pointing to" Chris Hogan returning from a rib injury this week. It's tough to forecast Hogan's role in his return game, but given Gronk's suspension Hogan should see plenty of opportunities. When healthy he's been a high-end WR2/low-end WR1, this week play him as a standard WR2 or good flex. With him back, Brandin Cooks' production will most likely remain around the same and Danny Amendola might see his role diminish. Cooks is definitely startable, but outside of the very deepest leagues Amendola simply hasn't been and won't be a fantasy factor. For the Fins, Jarvis Landry is the only receiver who merits any consideration after he went 8/70/0 against the Pats. Stopping him will be priority number one for Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia, but with his talent and consistency--he's caught five or more balls in every game this season--he should still be a fine WR2 (slightly higher in PPR).
With Gronk out, the Patriots won't feature backup Dwayne Allen as heavily in the offense. He may see opportunities for one of the first times in New England, but there's far too much uncertainty to stream him. Similarly, Julius Thomas isn't a big threat in Adam Gase's offense and shouldn't be considered.
The Pats D/ST has established itself as one of the league's best at preventing points. That should' the hard against Jay Cutler this week. With the turnover potential added in, New England is a quality defensive option. Just don't start Miami, please. Stephen Gostkowski is a high-caliber kicker option, and Cody Parkey has fine accuracy but won't get enough work to be worth anything in fantasy. Leave him on the bench.
That's it for this fantasy breakdown. Enjoy your Sunday (and Monday Night), and Go Pats!