The Dolphins are a fantasy goldmine because they don’t spread the ball around, instead Tyreek Hill #10, Jaylen Waddle #17 and Raheem Mostert #31 deservedly get the bulk of the touches. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images) (Rich Storry via Getty Images)
The fantasy gods had a laugh during Week 6. Most games fell under their totals. A slew of big-name players got hurt. The NFL’s last two unbeatens took their first loss.
You don’t try to win a week like this, you try to survive it.
Thank goodness for safe harbors, like Miami. When all else fails in 2023, we look to the Dolphins.
When the smoke cleared Sunday, Miami had the two highest scorers on the slate, and three of the top seven. We’ve heard this song before. Raheem Mostert scored three touchdowns and rushed for 115 yards; Tyreek Hill posted a 6-163-1 dessert; and Tua Tagovailoa had three touchdown passes and 262 yards. And the No. 5 player from Sunday came from the same game; Adam Thielen continued his brilliant, ageless season, painting a crafty 11-115-1 line.
Mostert goes down as the biggest league-winning pick of the first six weeks. He’s already collected 11 touchdowns, he’s caught 18 passes and he’s finished as a top-three back (in half-point PPR scoring) three different times. It’s a massive windfall for someone whose Yahoo ADP was around 118 in the preseason.
Mostert’s magical mystery tour is well-documented. He’s in his age-31 season. He’s already been released seven different times. He’s also encountered numerous injuries, standard for most NFL running backs. Last season’s 212 touches were a career high. Mostert’s best fantasy finish was an RB20 chart in 2019, back with the 49ers.
For fantasy purposes, Mostert might be a forced hold. It’s difficult to let go of a surging back tied to this perfect a setup — Mike McDaniel is an elite play caller, and most defenses are scared silly by Miami’s outside speed. There will be red-zone opportunities and big rushing lanes against almost everyone. Nobody ever went broke making money.
Of course, a shrewd fantasy manager might think about selling high, but can you convince one of your league mates that a 31-year-old surprise back with an extensive injury history is going to remain healthy all this season? It might be a hard argument to win. And heck, if I didn’t really like the return on a Mostert trade, I wouldn’t try to talk myself into it.
Other backs will eventually get run here, of course. Salvon Ahmed had 34 yards and a touchdown Sunday, most of it in garbage time. Chris Brooks had one 28-yard run and some other attempts that went nowhere. Jeff Wilson Jr. will return soon, and obviously, De’Von Achane was torching the league before he hurt his knee last week.
One other thing that makes this offense fantasy gold is the narrowness of the usage. Tagovailoa only targeted six different players, with most of the attention going to Hill and Jaylen Waddle (7-51-1, nine targets). McDaniels knows it’s good to let your best players be your best players. The ancillary pieces seldom see the ball in Miami.
The Dolphins will get a legitimate test next week at Philadelphia, which was just upset by the Jets — both from the Eagles’ staunch defense and the Philly offense on the other side. Then Miami hosts struggling New England in Week 8 (that’s going to be a sky-high spread) and a pinball-likely matchup awaits in Week 9 against Kansas City in Germany. The Dolphins are off in Week 10.
Your holiday plans will probably include the Dolphins, too. Miami hosts Dallas on Christmas Eve (Week 16), and heads to Baltimore on New Year’s Eve (championship week for most fantasy leagues).
Here’s to your good health, Fins. You’ve been fantasy football’s right answer through the opening third of the season.
Speed Round• If Chris Olave were playing with even a league-average quarterback, he’s be a first-round fantasy player. Derek Carr is leaving a ton of big plays on the field every week. Olave is still posting productive lines, but I weep for what could actually be happening. This is a slightly-screened version of what we have to accept with Garrett Wilson in New York; it’s not a shipwreck, but it’s not what it could be.
• Stefon Diggs is a perfect fantasy player, a very high weekly floor with the upside to be the biggest scoring player on any given slate. Josh Allen peppers Diggs off the bus, as he should, and the Buffalo coaching staff is proactive finding creative ways to make sure Diggs gets the ball. You could take Diggs in the Top 5 of any redraft and I’ll co-sign.
• When it comes to Drake London, maybe we have to accept that perfect is the enemy of good. Okay, the Week 1 bagel stung, no getting around that. But he’s had big yardage or a touchdown in 4-of-5 games since. Desmond Ridder is still a work in progress, but he’s targeted London 40 times in five weeks. I can live with that opportunity share.
• Travis Kelce is the only tight end who’s clearly above Sam LaPorta for current fantasy value. Mark Andrews vs. LaPorta, that’s a debate. I would insist on LaPorta over any other tight end in the remainder of the pool. Talk about breaking the rules — this could go down as the best rookie tight end season of all time.
• Somehow the Chiefs have become a boring team, despite having the league’s best player, arguably its best play designer, and a Hall of Fame-bound tight end who’s also dating the most famous woman on the planet. I hope Kansas City takes advantage of its mini bye and installs more involvement for intriguing rookie Rashee Rice.
• Alvin Kamara used to be a low-volume playmaker who threw splash plays at us weekly. Now he’s a high-volume grinder who rarely make a splash play. The cycle of life is something. Defenses aren’t afraid of Kamara anymore.
• Week 6 wasn’t kind to the mobile quarterbacks, as only three of the Top 13 scores added a notable rushing component to their bottom line (and that’s being generous with Patrick Mahomes, who ran for 30 yards). Incidentally, Mahomes runs how I’d want my prefect QB to run — it’s one of his pitches, but it’s not his signature pitch.
• Nobody would ever call Chuba Hubbard a special back, but he’s outplayed Miles Sanders all year. Hubbard deserves to keep a meaty role, and perhaps the primary role, even when Sanders is ready to return. At lest see what Hubbard can do with it. Hubbard is also two years younger, and at running back, that certainly counts for something.
• The Titans offense is up against it with Ryan Tannehill, who has not played well. But the offense looked hopeless with Malik Willis in relief; every other pass play was a sack. Baltimore’s defense deserves credit for Willis struggling, but the Titans might be headed for an iceberg either way.
• I know almost nothing about Tyson Bagent, but I know he wasn’t the sack-making machine that Justin Fields is. There’s a fine line between having the nerve to make incredible plays and having the common sense to give up on a play; Fields struggles to negotiate that line. D’Onta Foreman ran well and deserved a bigger workload.