Thanksgiving Fantasy MatchupsThursday, November 24, 2011
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4:15PM ET Game
Miami @ Dallas
On a three-game winning streak, the Dolphins appear to be a much better team than their early-season performance suggested. Just keep in mind that Miami's victories have come against the reeling Chiefs, Redskins, and Bills, who all told have combined to lose 11 games in a row. The Fins haven't faced a good passing offense in nearly a month, a trend that will change at Cowboys Stadium. Tony Romo is the No. 3 fantasy quarterback over the last three weeks, completing 65-of-94 (69.1%) passes for 841 yards (8.95 YPA), eight touchdowns, and no turnovers since Week 8. The Dolphins still rank 25th against the pass despite their easy recent schedule, so this is a favorable matchup. ... Excluding Miles Austin (hamstring, out), here is Romo's target distribution over the past six games: Dez Bryant 44, Jason Witten 39, Laurent Robinson 32, DeMarco Murray 27. ... Bryant has four touchdowns in Austin's four missed games this season and should avoid Dolphins top CB Vontae Davis' coverage for most of this one. Bryant is the Cowboys' split end, playing the majority of his snaps on the left side of the offensive formation. He'll tangle with RCB Sean Smith while Robinson draws Davis. Robinson is more of a low-end WR3 option this week.
Witten is the No. 4 tight end in fantasy football, and only Jimmy Graham has seen more targets at the position. Witten is an every-week fantasy starter. ... Coming off his least productive game since taking over as Dallas' lead back in Week 7, Murray will face a near-impenetrable Miami run defense on three days' rest. In their last six games, the Dolphins have allowed 445 yards on 130 carries (3.42 YPC) to enemy tailbacks, none of whom has scored. His 31 touches compared to Felix Jones' six in Week 11 confirm that Murray will remain the feature back going forward, but he's just an RB2/flex on Thanksgiving. Across the league, only the 49ers are playing tougher run defense than Miami. It doesn't help Murray's cause that he'll be without pile-driving FB Tony Fiammetta (illness) for a second straight game. ... Jones did not bring back kickoffs in his return from a high ankle sprain, and played only 21-of-77 snaps (27.3%) against the Redskins. Murray was in for 54 (70.1%). Until Jones' role increases -- and it may not -- he's a handcuff for Murray.
The Fins can compete in this game if Matt Moore plays as he has in his last three starts. Over that span, Moore is 51-of-72 (70.8%) for 613 yards (8.51 YPA), six touchdowns, and two turnovers. Moore tends to fold when pressured, so it's notable that all six of his TDs have come against the Bills (28th in sacks) and Chiefs (32nd in sacks). Both turnovers were against the Redskins (tied for first in sacks). The Dolphins' ability to contain DeMarcus Ware, or lack thereof, could have a big impact on this game's final score. Moore is a two-quarterback league option. ... Moore's updated target distribution on the season: Brandon Marshall 58, Davone Bess 36, Reggie Bush 23, Brian Hartline 19, Anthony Fasano 17, Charles Clay 14. ... Fantasy owners need to shake off Marshall's one-catch, five-yard Week 11 clunker and start him against the Cowboys. Clay oddly led the Dolphins in receiving last week. Miami jumped out to an early, 21-3 lead and leaned on the running game, as no Fins receiver finished with more than five targets. Marshall will bounce back.
The Week 11 box score once again makes it seem as though the Dolphins' backfield has become an even timeshare. Bush and Daniel Thomas both received 15 carries in Miami's 35-8 throttling of Buffalo. Closer inspection reveals that Bush remains the primary back until games get out of hand. Bush received eight of the backfield's first nine touches, including three in the red zone. He executed off left tackle for a five-yard score on the third. Thomas didn't see significant playing time until the Fins had built a 14-0 lead, and seven of the rookie's carries occurred in second-half blowout mode with Miami up by four touchdowns. Thomas was also buried for a fourth-quarter safety on a simple dive play up the middle. It feels uncomfortable defending Bush because I'm not a long-term believer, but he is a better fantasy option than Thomas for the time being. Keep in mind that Dallas has a top-11 run defense. With ILB Sean Lee (wrist) playing full time again, the Cowboys held Redskins tailbacks to 46 scoreless yards on 19 carries (2.42 YPC) in Week 11.
Score Prediction: Cowboys 24, Dolphins 13