Thursday Night Football Preview: Miami at Baltimore

Thursday Night Football Preview

Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore (-3.0), O/U 37.5

Miami Dolphins

Thursday Night Football Preview

The start of any evaluation of the Dolphins going forward has to start with Matt Moore. Just another in the line of injured quarterbacks. So, the storyline is, the Dolphins brought Jay Cutler out of retirement solely so they would not have to go through a season starting Moore. Now Miami will have to start Moore anyhow. Cutler is out with a broken rib this week and Moore is no stranger to Dolphins starting job. Moore went 6-6 in the season before the Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill. Furthermore, he went 2-1 last year filling in at the end of the season. Over those games, he was 265 of 434, for 3,218 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. As far as backups go, Moore is a very serviceable fill-in.

Jarvis Landry Fantasy FootballThe receiving corps will have to step up and make things easier for Moore. Jarvis Landry already has 45 catches. Only Antonio Brown has more catches. Same with Landry’s 68 targets. Still, he does not get big yards on his catches. Of the eleven WRs with at least 56 targets, only Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper have fewer yards. Kenny Stills has also been a valuable target. Stills leads the Dolphins with four touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns have been in the last two games. Either he is tailing off a fluke, or trending in the right direction. At the tail end of the receiving corps are DeVante Parker and Leonte Caroo.

Jay Ajayi is still the big name in Miami. Ajayi has 442 rushing yards so far, but they have come in bunches. He put up 122 against the Chargers and then 130 against the Atlanta Falcons, but has only crossed 55 yards once in the remaining four games. Ajayi has one more carry than Kareem Hunt and 275 fewer yards. He is averaging about 3.5 a carry. Ajayi will get good carries and has value there. His fantasy value has been hampered by the fact he has not found the end zone just yet. On top of this, he has the fewest targets of any running back with 100 or more carries.

What will hurt the Dolphins is that the Ravens are a better run defense than a pass defense. The Ravens are second in defensive pass DVOA, but just 16th in DVOA rush defense. The Dolphins will rely on Ajayi and it should tend toward their benefit. Baltimore gives up the seventh most fantasy points to opponents’ RBs.

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Baltimore Ravens

Thursday Night Football Preview

Baltimore has been abysmal in terms of fantasy value. The Ravens are splitting rushing carries. At this point, Alex Collins is the lead back. He has out-carried Javorius Allen in four of the last five games.  Collins has not hit 100 yards, but hit 74 yards or more three of these five games. He will not get you big fantasy numbers, but he is stable and not likely to get you nothing. Javorius Allen has managed to lead the Ravens in receptions. Allen and Benjamin Watson are the only two players with more than 30 targets.

Mike WallaceThis is where Baltimore has more issues. There has been very little firepower in the passing game. Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin both have 28 targets and 16 receptions. Wallace has more yards, but Maclin has the additional touchdown. Baltimore has traditionally been a deep threat passing offense. It has been a rather boom-or-bust existence. Joe Flacco has not thrown for 240 yards yet this year. Flacco has also thrown eight interceptions against his five touchdowns. It is worse over his last five games, two touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Dolphins also give a particular defensive line up that counters the Ravens. The Dolphins are second in rushing DVOA and 28th in pass DVOA. Joe Flacco is going to have to find something against the Dolphins. It might be hard for The Ravens to run this week. Miami gives up the 23rd fewest points to opponents’ RBs. While the Dolphins are poor in DVOA pass defense, but they had surrendered the 8th fewest points to opposing QBs.

The Game

The Dolphins seem to have the best of the matchup of defenses this week. Neither team looks poised to score big points and there might be turnovers that lead to quick points. Flacco has been turning the ball over, but the Ravens have a +3 turnover differential.  The Dolphins have had some difficulty. They have a poor -2 differential. Obviously, Cutler was a part of the turnover issue, but the Ravens take the ball away well. If this comes down to defense, and it most likely will, the Ravens win. Call it 13-10.

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