Thursday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Dolphins vs. Ravens

Thursday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Dolphins vs. Ravens

This article is part of our Showdown/Single Game DFS Breakdown series.

The 6-2 Ravens travel to Miami to face the 2-7 Dolphins on Thursday night. Both teams are coming off wins as Baltimore needed a second-half comeback and overtime to beat the Vikings 34-31 while Miami held off Houston 17-9. Thursday's matchup has the Ravens as 7.5-point road favorites in a game that features 46.5-point total. The Dolphins have yet to make a decision on the status of Tua Tagovailoa (finger) after he didn't start on Sunday due to a broken finger on his throwing hand. Jacoby Brissett would be in line for another start if Tagovailoa can't go. From a DFS perspective, the Ravens seem a bit overpriced and there is value to be had on the Dolphins side. Because of this, I'll plan for a competitive game and build lineups with plenty of Miami exposure. Too many DFS managers stack the favorite in these spots. As always in these single-game contests, plan for a specific scenario and build lineups to fit that game script.

QUARTERBACKS

Lamar Jackson ($13,800 DK, $17,500 FD) is coming off another great performance Sunday when he threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a season-high 120 yards as he led the Ravens to a comeback win. It was the third time in eight games that he's put up at least 35 fantasy points. His salary for Thursday is the highest this season for a single-game contest, but I would hardly expect it to temper his popularity. It does make it harder to roster him in the captain spot on DraftKings, though. Expect him to be exceeding popular as the MVP on FanDuel, however, and rightly so as he's likely to be the slate's highest-scoring player. There are game-theory reasons to consider fading as it offers a big leverage opportunity, but I'll likely roster him in every lineup I make. 

Tua Tagovailoa ($10,200 DK, $15,000 FD) was active on Sunday, but only as the emergency backup as he recovers from a fractured finger on his throwing hand. The Dolphins indicated they will use him in that role again if he isn't ready to start on Thursday. He'd been impressive prior to his finger injury, topping 25 fantasy points in two of three starts since returning Week 6 from a rib injury that kept him out for a month at the start of the season. Jacoby Brissett ($9,800 DK, $14,00 FD) will start again if Tagovailoa isn't ready. He was underwhelming Sunday against the Texans when he completed 26 of 43 for 266 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. In five starts this season, he's reached 20 fantasy points only once and it was a rushing TD that helped him get there. He's only topped 250 passing yards once in that span as well. I'd have more interest in rostering a banged up Tua than a healthy Brissett. It's difficult to roster both QBs in the same lineup due to Lamar's high salary, but there are some cheap Dolphins pass-catchers that make it easier. In general, I prefer the high-priced skill players over either Dolphins QB as they're cheaper and offer similar upside. 

WIDE RECEIVERS + TIGHT ENDS

Marquise Brown ($11,000 DK, $13,500 FD) drew double-digit targets for the third time in four games Sunday when he caught nine balls for 116 yards. He's put up at least 19 DK points in six of eight games this season as he's clearly established himself as Lamar Jackson's favorite target. The $11,000 salary might seem a bit high, but it's actually pretty reasonable when you consider that he's averaging 20 DK points per game this season. He could go somewhat overlooked as the second-most expensive player on the slate. Rashod Bateman ($5,800 DK, $8,500 FD) has seen at least six targets in all three of his starts since returning from a groin injury that kept him out the first five weeks. He caught a season-high five passes last week and it feels like only a matter of time before the talented first-rounder scores his first career touchdown. It's worth noting that Sammy Watkins ($5,600 DK, $7,500 FD) has been inactive every game that Bateman has played. Watkins has been out since Week 6 due to a thigh injury but has a chance to return Thursday. If he plays, expect a few less targets for the likes of Brown and Bateman. Devin Duvernay ($4,800 DK, $6,500 FD) caught his second touchdown of the season Sunday but still finished with less than 10 fantasy points. He's yet to top 11 DK points in game this season and his salary seems a bit expensive when you consider that fact. I'd have limited interest if Watkins is out again but otherwise it looks like a good spot to fade. I'd much rather find the $1,000 and roster Bateman or Watkins. 

Jaylen Waddle ($8,200 DK, $12,000 FD) has been one of few bright spots this season for Miami. The sixth overall draft pick has drawn at least 10 targets in three of the last four games and should be heavily involved again Thursday as the Dolphins remain without DeVante Parker and Will Fuller. Waddle does the majority of his work on short and intermediate routes, so his viability doesn't really change based on whether Tagovailoa or Brissett starts. Waddle is the top option for me on the Dolphins side when you consider that he's cheaper than both QBs and Myles Gaskin. Mack Hollins ($4,200 DK, $6,500 FD) operated as the No. 2 WR on Sunday, playing 60 snaps and catching three of six targets for 22 yards and a touchdown. Albert Wilson ($400 DK, $5,500 FD) drew two targets while playing 17 snaps. Kirk Merritt ($200 DK, $5,000 FD) drew three targets while playing 11 snaps. Preston Williams ($200 DK, $7,000 FD) was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game, but coach Brian Flores said that he will be available Thursday. Injuries and disciplinary issues have plagued Williams, but he's more talented than Hollins, Wilson and Merritt. For just $200, it makes sense to take some chances on him, and that's what I'll do. Hollins is quite affordable if he plays 60 snaps again. He and Williams are my preferred options after Waddle.

Moving to tight end, Mark Andrews ($8,800 DK, $13,000 FD) has failed to reach 10 fantasy points in consecutive games. It's rather surprising to see that he's scored more than 12 DK points only three times in eight games. Similar to Jackson and Brown, Andrews is priced at a premium. From purely a raw points perspective, I prefer Waddle for cheaper. Nick Boyle ($200 DK, $5,000 FD) was activated from injured reserve on Monday and could see his first action of the season. He's  questionable after recovering from a knee injury. He caught two TDs in each of the last two seasons and could be considered for the minimum salary. 

Mike Gesicki ($7,400 DK, $12,500 FD) has drawn at least eight targets in three of the last four games and the time that he didn't was mostly due to DeVante Parker seeing 11. With Parker and Fuller out, Gesicki and Waddle are all the Dolphins have left when it comes to top receiving options. Durham Smythe ($1,800 DK, $6,000 FD) played 45 snaps on Sunday as Miami went heavy with two TE sets. He's caught at least two passes in five of the last six games and the cheap salary makes him a worthy gamble. 

RUNNING BACKS

Latavius Murray ($7,000 DK, $10,000 FD) has missed consecutive games with an ankle injury and it doubtful for Thursday. Devonta Freeman ($6,600 DK, $10,500 FD) played 58% of the snaps and had 15 touches against the Vikings on Sunday. Le'Veon Bell ($5,400 DK, $9,500 FD) played just 23% of the snaps but had 11 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown. With the salaries so similar, I'd prefer taking a chance on Freeman considering he's more involved in the passing game. He's averaging three targets per game over the last four and has eight catches in that span. Bell has caught one pass in four games this season. 

Myles Gaskin ($9,400 DK, $11,000 FD) played 72% of the snaps last week and had 26 touches. He wasn't very effective, totaling 57 yards from scrimmage, but the volume is encouraging. So is the fact that he caught six passes. He's been more involved in the passing game with Brissett at quarterback. I'd have more interest in Gaskin if that's the case again for Thursday. Overall, his salary seems a bit expensive for a tough matchup against the Ravens. If Tua starts, I'd have more interest in targeting the passing game over Gaskin. The likely game script sees the Dolphins trailing and needing to throw. Salvon Ahmed ($800 DK, $6,000 FD) has at least eight touches in three of the last four games. If anything, he makes sense as a cheap punt in blowout scenarios. 

KICKERS

Kickers are always viable options, and that's especially true for Thursday. Look at the players priced directly above  Justin Tucker ($4,000 DK, $9,000 FD) and Jason Sanders ($3,400 DK, $8,000 FD). Bell, Duvernay, Ravens D/ST and Hollins are priced above and it isn't hard to imagine that none of them put up double-digit fantasy points. Tucker has scored 10+ fantasy points in five of eight games this season. Sometimes it only takes two field goals for a kicker to end up in the optimal lineup. 

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

In general I don't have much interest in defense/special teams. They're usually too expensive and too popular considering how infrequently they're optimal. The Ravens ($4,400) haven't been great this season but Brissett has three INTs and three fumbles lost in his last three starts. The Dolphins ($2,800) are coming off their best performance of the season after they had five sacks and forced four turnovers against the Texans. If anything, I prefer taking a chance on the cheaper, underdog defense who is likely to be less popular. It usually takes a touchdown for one to be optimal and D/ST touchdowns are mostly random anyway. 

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Belongia
Ryan has a background in accounting, finance and poker. He's been playing DFS full-time since 2018. A multiple-time King of the Pitch finalist, Ryan's been ranked inside the Top 5 on the RG Soccer Leaderboard for three years running. Originally from Wisconsin, he moved to London in 2019 for the futbol.
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