A 1-2 team versus a team with no wins, a fantasy showdown? You got that right. In fantasy sports, records and wins/losses don’t matter. It’s all about stats and playing the right matchups week in and week out. That’s why this week’s tilt between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins at the Landshark should be a gold mine for fantasy success. Sure, the season long stats for both teams are not impressive. Both teams have underachieved and have something to prove. Let’s take a look at who should excel – from A Fantasy Perspective.
Ronnie Brown (RB) Miami – The Bills are 117.3 yards per game on the ground and the ‘Fins are running at a clip of 161.3 per clip. That spells a perfect equation for the head of the Wildcat that Miami runs. Brown is averaging 5 yards a carry and when he gets rolling, there’s no stopping him. Don’t be worried about Ricky Williams. Sure, he’s a factor and he gets his fair share of carries, but his upside is limited. Brown’s is not. Add in the fact that the Dolphins are trotting out a new QB who hasn’t started a game in his career, the Dolphins should be running to take the pressure off the Michigan alum. All this should be enough reason to start Brown with confidence. A nice bonus for fantasy owners is that the Bills will be without DT Josh McCargo, star LB Paul Posluszny and starting safeties Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott.
Fred Jackson (RB) Buffalo – While last year’s starting running back, Marshawn Lynch, returns from suspension, Jackson has carried the load for the Bills. He hasn’t done anything to lose his role in the offense, by carrying the ball at a near 5 yard average, and by acting as Trent Edwards safety valve out of the backfield. Even late last year, Jackson carved out a big role on the offense when Lynch was still there. Expect the Bills to get Lynch involved, but at a gradual pace. The Dolphins only allow 66 yards rushing per game, but don’t fear. They allow teams to convert on third down 45% of the time. Third down is the spot in the game Jackson definitely won’t cede to Lynch this week. If you’re in a PPC league, Jackson should do extremely well for you.
Lee Evans (WR) Buffalo – Eight receptions, 88 yards, 1 TD. In three games. Ouch. Perfect timing to travel to visit Miami, the team he absolutely owns. He’s got nearly 700 yards in his career versus the ‘Fins. With all the controversey over the weak offense in Buffalo, you’ve got to think Dick Jauron will open it up this week, right? Right?! I hope so, or else there might not be much hope for the WR corp in Buffalo this year. Evans is a true burner, and he’s used that speed in the past against the Dolphins. Look for him to get loose over the top and grab at least one deep ball for a TD. The Miami defense got absolutely obliterated by the Chargers last week, and while the Bills aren’t in San Diego’s class offensively, they do have some weapons to use. The only question is whether Jauron and Edwards are smart enough to use them.
Ted Ginn Jr (WR) Miami – Yeah, he’s been much worse than his stats show. He’s got 13 receptions for 134 yard and no scores for the season. He’s dropped a few sure touchdowns, and hasn’t earned the trust of Chad Pennington. Luckily for him, Pennington’s gone and in steps Chad Henne. The new qb doesn’t have the experience or accuracy Pennington does (few do), he does have twice the arm strength as Chad has ever dreamed about. This plays to the strength of Ginn; pure speed. With the starting safeties for Buffalo out, along with starting corner Leodis McKelvin, Ginn should be able to run free this week. Dink and dunk is Pennington’s game, not Henne’s. Look for him to go deep to the speedster off of playaction passing. Ginn’s been wasting a roster spot on fantasy benches all season. This is the matchup you want to use him.
Worth a Shot:
Terrell Owens (WR) Buffalo – If T.O. ever had a shot at getting his point across without outright saying it, this week is it. He tiptoed that line of being a “good soldier” by not blaming anyone for the anemic offense, although during his press conference, his message was clear: GIVE ME THE BALL. Now, a coach should never cater to a player’s demands, in most cases. This is a case where you need to feed the ball to the malcontent. Not only will it prevent the epic tantrum that will come if he’s not used, its the right move to make for the team’s success. T.O. is a great receiver and needs to be involved. The ‘Fins were shredded last week, and T.O. is too good to be phased out. Start him and hope that Trent Edwards and Co. do the right thing and get him the damn ball.
Chad Henne (QB) Miami – Call me crazy, but I think it’s worth a shot. The Bill’s secondary is short-handed and should be exploited. Bill Parcell’s puppet, Tony Sparano, should be looking to take advantage of that and give the kid a shot. He’s short on professional experience, but is by no means a novice. He started four years at Michigan, when the Wolverines were still a premier program. He holds school records for touchdowns, yards, attempts and completions, while playing with NFL caliber receivers (Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston). He knows the Miami playbook front and back, and has been groomed for this moment since he was drafted. He’s got the physical skills. In a matchup against a defense with lots of fill-ins, this is a matchup worth gambling on.
Guys I’m Avoiding:
Anthony Fasano (TE) Miami – I really hope he’s not starting for your team. There are a ton more productive tight ends in the NFL right now. Each week, fantasy sites keep asking “Is this the week Fasano breaks out?” The answer – NO. He’s limited skills-wise, and he obviously isn’t an important part of the offensive gameplan. With Jake Long’s early season struggles, look for him to stay in protection to help on Aaron Schobel and Kawika Mitchell’s pass rush. Stay away from Fasano.
Maybe I’m insane for seeing this many bright spots in a game between bad teams. They each have talent, but they’re not using it correctly. Dick Jauron has proven many times he doesn’t understand the game of modern football, yet I still cannot believe he’s this oblivious. His “Pop-Warner” offense needs to be opened up, everyone else knows it, let’s just hope he and Trent Edwards have figured it out too. Evans is being wasted running curls and slants. He needs to run go routes and posts. Terrell Owens may have lost a step, but putting him in motion allows him to get separation. These are simple adjustments to the gameplan, which should be implemented against a team that is the sixth worse pass defense in the league. On the other side, the Bills secondary is dessimated by injury and the Dolphins should seize that opportunity to get their first win. Henne’s got pro skills, let’s see if he can use them.