On paper, the matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the visiting Miami Dolphins didn't elicit that much excitement. Yet, there was (dare I say) a Fitzmagical quality heading into Thursday’s Week 3 game for fantasy managers. Both teams have been reaping points at every position except their defense and special teams. The opportunity to load up in fantasy was irresistible.
With both defenses leaking yards and touchdowns like a sieve, a shootout seemed an inevitable outcome. Jaguars' QB Gardner Minshew had high expectations at home in prime time with a 1-1 record against a defense that just allowed QB Josh Allen to score 34.5 fantasy the week prior. Dolphins' QB Ryan Fitzpatrick needed to prove that this Miami team is still his to lead and stave off calls for rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa.
The War of the Facial Hair
The real battle for the sunshine state wasn’t actually about football, but facial hair. It was a clash of the Minshew Mania Mustache and Fitzpatrick’s Magical Beard. The two quarterbacks even exchanged some good-humored barbs prior to the matchup. Fitzpatrick said that beards were the better look than mustaches and men who grow them probably have patchy beards. Minshew responded by deferring to his elders, especially those who were much, much elder than he.
All jokes aside, the Miami Dolphins at the Jacksonville Jaguars had enormous potential to propel your fantasy squad into a heavy lead prior to the Sunday and Monday night games.
The first half was disappointing for the home team as the Dolphins trounced all over the Jags’ defense. What promised to be a high scoring game on both sides looked lopsided in favor of the visitors. Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin exhibited why he snatched the starting role out of the hands of the incumbent running backs Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, who were ineffective between the twenties. Howard did rush in a touchdown, but it was Gaskin who propelled Miami to the goal line.
Fitzpatrick’s game was on fire. He was 100% in pass completion on his first twelve attempts, getting a variety of pass-catchers involved to move the chains. Minshew, on the other hand, couldn’t connect and generate any offense for the Jaguars. It was clear they missed WR D.J. Chark who sat out with a chest/back injury. Chris Conley dropped an easily catchable pass, which failed to convert on third down on the Jaguars’ first drive of the game, and Keelan Cole was practically invisible. Jacksonville relied heavily on their RB James Robinson to get them their lone score in the first half.
In the second half, Conley again dropped a pass on a pivotal third down attempt. The Jaguars continued to struggle in the third quarter while trailing by 14 points. An alarming trend began to take shape for Jacksonville. After Miami failed to capitalize, the Jags got the ball back, but it was Conley yet again hurting the Jags with an offensive pass interference penalty. This led to another third down attempt and an unfortunate turnover.
Miami proceeded to take the game into a runaway 28 to 7 lead to end the third quarter. Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson was disqualified after coming into contact with an official, adding insult to injury for Jacksonville.
The Jags shot themselves in the foot time and time again and this game was over after half time. Minshew was unable to see wide open players and made dangerous decisions. They were facing too many long, third down attempts with their backs firmly against the proverbial wall. Conley slowed up on a big bomb pass from Minshew that some can argue was overthrown and others can say looked catchable.
Around the 11 minute mark in the 4th quarter, Jacksonville finally put together their first successful drive of the game and Robinson scored his second touchdown. But, true to this horrific game for the Jaguars, kicker Brandon Wright missed the extra point and was later declared questionable with a groin injury. He was just added to the Jacksonville roster this week.
The rest of the 4th quarter brought no reprieve for Jacksonville. They got the ball back with just under six minutes of play, but a big sack led to a third and long, again. The Jags went for it, but an offensive holding penalty turned the ball back over to Miami. The Dolphins were unable to score a touchdown on the ensuing drive, but kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 31 to 13.
The only hope for fantasy GMs who started a Jaguar in this matchup came down to garbage time with just over three minutes left to play. After a promising start to the drive, Minshew threw an interception with 2:27 left on the clock and the game was over.
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For anyone who hopped on the Minshew Mania hype train, this game was depressing to watch. Not all of the blame falls on his shoulders, however. His pass-catchers, with the exception of Robinson, let him down at crucial moments. No matter which way you look at it, this was a brutal loss for Jacksonville and disappointing for anyone who started a Jaguars player with the exception of Robinson. He rushed 11 times for 46 yards and two touchdowns plus added six catches for 83 yards, which led the team in receptions.
This isn’t necessarily game over for Jacksonville in real football or fantasy. Thursday night matchups on a short week can be downright weird. Hopefully the Jaguars can make some key changes in their offensive strategy and get Chark back in the lineup. After this performance, however, I am gun-shy about starting anyone for Jacksonville except Robinson and Chark when he returns.
On a happier note, Fitzpatrick looked like a bearded wizard having the time of his life. He threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns in addition to running one in himself, finishing the game with 25.2 fantasy points. This is his second game in a row scoring 20 or more points. The only thing better than Fitzpatrick’s performance may have been his pineapple shirt, sweatpants, and his postgame interview.
WR Preston Williams found the endzone as did TE favorite Mike Gesicki. In a surprise twist, Miami’s DST even had a good day with four sacks and an interception. Gaskin showed throughout the game why he deserves the starting role in Miami rushing for 66 yards and catching five receptions for 35 yards. Watching Howard snipe a touchdown for his only touch for one yard was painful, but fantasy GMs should feel good about grabbing Gaskin off of waivers for the rest of the season.
Bills’ RB Zach Moss missed practice with a toe injury. … Eagles’ WR Jalen Reagor underwent UCL surgery (thumb) and will miss several weeks. … Chargers’ QB Tyrod Taylor suffered a punctured lung at the hands of the team doctor after receiving a shot for pain. He should remain out until fully healed. … Jets’ WRs Jamison Crowder is doubtful for Sunday and Breshad Perriman is still injured. … Raiders’ RB Josh Jacobs and TE Darren Waller remains sidelined and not seen at practice. WR Henry Ruggs remains limited … Saints’ WR Michael Thomas is still not practicing fully. … Falcons’ WR Julio Jones is questionable with a hamstring injury. … Chiefs’ WR Sammy Watkins is in the team’s concussion protocol. … Packers’ WR Davante Adams was on the sidelines with a hamstring injury during Thursday’s practice. … Buccaneers’ WR Chris Godwin practiced in full. … Eagles’ WR Alshon Jeffrey was spotted at practice and could see game-time in a few weeks after undergoing Lisfranc surgery. … Lions’ WR Kenny Golladay finally practiced but in a limited capacity. … Steelers’ WR JuJu Smith-Schuster missed practice again on Thursday. … Titans’ WR A.J. Brown was absent from Thursday’s practice. … Cardinals’ WR Christian Kirk remained out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. … Rams’ RB Cam Akers continues to recover slowly from a rib injury.
Carolina’s WR Curtis Samuel could see a role in the run game with Christian McCaffrey sidelined. … Giants sign RB Devonta Freeman and HC Joe Judge plans on using all three backs depending on game plan. … QB Blake Bortles signs with the Denver Broncos. … Patriots’ RB James White continues to stay away from the team dealing with a devastating family tragedy. … 49ers’ TE George Kittle has a chance to play this week. … Buccaneers’ HC Bruce Arains comments on TE Rob Gronkowski’s role as more of a blocking tight end in the offense. … Browns’ WR Odell Beckham Jr. admits he may not post big numbers in 2020.