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Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 8


The Arizona Cardinals continue to be the laughing stock of the National Football League.

The Red Sea had been outscored 101-82 heading into last Thursday night and the gap continued to grow. The Denver Broncos managed to find the end zone six times in the contest, including scores from Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, and Emmanuel Sanders, en route to a 45-10 blowout victory. Fantasy owners of former studs like David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are hoping that the departure of Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy could signal a turning point.

With such a one-sided contest likely failing to impress football fans, the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans will go head to head in Week 8's edition of Thursday Night Football. The game script in this game is largely unpredictable with both team's lacking offensive firepower, but fantasy owners should be able to find a few gems to play. Let's dive in!

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Miami Dolphins @ Houston Texans

Date and Start Time: Thursday, October 25 at 8:00 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:

 

Offensive and Defensive Rankings:

Dolphins Texans
Passing Yards 25th 16th
Rushing Yards 18th 15th
Pass Defense 23rd 12th
Rush Defense 29th 8th

 

Must Starts

Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup

Lamar Miller (RB, HOU)

I know it's hard to trust Miller given his fluctuating performances to this point in the season, but now is a good time to ride the hot hand. Miller has yet to receive less than 15 total touches in a game this season and should be able to capitalize against a Miami Dolphins squad ranking 28th in rushing points allowed and 29th in receiving points allowed. Start him as an RB2 with RB1 upside should he be able to find the end zone as he did in Week 7.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, HOU)

No one is sitting an elite wideout like Hopkins against the 23rd-ranked passing defense in the league, but keep in mind that the Miami Dolphins are currently the third-best team in points allowed per game to opposing wide receivers. Hopkins certainly has the prowess to overcome those tough matchups, but fantasy owners should temper expectations with a lower ceiling.

 

Consider Sitting

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup If Possible

Brock Osweiler (QB, MIA)

Give Osweiler credit for his solid performances against the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions where he finished as the QB-7 and QB-14 respectively. Unfortunately, the myriad of injuries to his starting wideouts and a short week to prepare means the odds are stacked against him for fantasy success. The Houston Texans have allowed just two touchdowns from outside of the red zone, tied for the fewest in the league, meaning fantasy owners will have to trust that Osweiler can effectively drive against a stingy passing defense.

Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU)

Unlike the passer on the opposing sideline, Watson hasn't looked right over the last two weeks with sub-200 passing yard games and very little in the way of rushing yardage. Houston has also struggled in putting touchdowns on the board, having scored two or fewer touchdowns in every game but one this season. If you can afford to sit Watson to give him a chance to prove his health and ability to put up fantasy points on the ground, I would strongly encourage doing so.

Frank Gore (RB, MIA)

Gore has handled the majority of the rush attempts for the Miami Dolphins offense, but should struggle against the Houston Texans eighth-best run defense which limits opposing backs to 3.3 yards per carry. The game script could easily fall into backfield mate Kenyan Drake's favor in this one.

 

Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option: Kenyan Drake (RB, MIA)

While veteran running back Frank Gore continues to out-touch him for some unknown reason, Drake continues to produce with 175 rushing yards on just 25 carries over the past three games. Given that he also averages 18-percent of the team's passing targets per game and has 8.3 targets per game over the Miami Dolphins last three weeks, the lack of available wide receivers could work in Drake's favor to push for more work and give fantasy owners a decent return.

Solid Option: Will Fuller (WR, HOU)

The absence of fellow wide receiver Keke Coutee and Deandre Hopkins drawing the focus of Miami Dolphins defensive back Xavien Howard should be more than enough to open up the door for Fuller to have an above average game for fantasy owners. Fuller hauled in six catches for 68 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars' stellar passing defense one week ago and Miami is certainly not in that same tier.

Sleeper: Danny Amendola (WR, MIA)

The Miami Dolphins wide receiver core is hurting right now with injuries to both Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, with Wilson in particular already confirmed to be sitting after being placed on injured reserve. Amendola has a team-leading 18 targets and 14 receptions across the last two weeks and will ultimately be the most reliable target for quarterback Brock Osweiler. Fantasy owners in PPR formats should take note.

Other Notable Sleepers: Jakeem Grant and Devante Parker (WRs, MIA)

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