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Week 8 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis

Unfortunately, it is back to another terrible Monday night game. Not only do we need to deal with Booger McFarland and his commentary, but we need to do so while watching the Dolphins.

Coming off a bye week, the Steelers should come out refreshed at home. James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster should be ready to finally beat up on a team. All be it, one who is actively trying to be the worst. This game, while not looking like it based on records, is likely to be a struggle for the Dolphins. A division game like the one in Buffalo takes far greater importance than a non-divisional game. This means that while they were up for the game last week, this week looks to be a clear opportunity for a severe letdown. Therefore, don’t expect this one to be close on the scoreboard.

As for fantasy? Well, I am required to write about this game, so I am begrudgingly doing so. However, it is not looking pretty in this one, as there are very few if any true must-starts and even the sleepers are almost worth sitting.

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Miami Dolphins vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Game Time: Monday October 28, 2019 @ 8:15pm/ET
Game Line: Pittsburgh Steelers -14.5 O/U 43.5
Miami Dolphins Record: 0-6
Pittsburgh Steelers Record: 2-4


Must Starts

James Conner, RB - Pittsburgh Steelers

After a slow start to the season, all it took was playing the Chargers in a de facto home game to get Conner going. Coming off the bye week, Conner is hopefully healthy and able to carry the load. Against a Dolphins team who ranks in the bottom two in the NFL against the run, this is a smash spot for James Conner.

The Dolphins have given up 200 yards rushing to the Patriots and over 100 yards to an aging Adrian Peterson behind a bad offensive line in Washington. With the talent James Conner has and the confidence he should feel after getting two touchdowns against the Chargers, expect this one to be beautiful for him on Monday Night Football. He could easily gain over 200 yards of total offense and have at least one touchdown. Even if these numbers are not quite matched, he should finish as an RB1 on the week. Therefore, make sure you are starting him on your fantasy team.

Devante Parker, WR - Miami Dolphins

So far, Parker has had 50 yards or a touchdown in every game this season. While this may not sound like much, we are talking about a player on the Dolphins here. It is hard to find any value on this team right now and Parker is your best bet. The offense is trash and the defense is even worse. Finding a diamond in a pile of trash is hard to do. We know Ryan Fitzpatrick is a gunslinger. He will throw the ball with reckless abandon. We also know he likes to concentrate on one main guy. In the case of Miami, this player has become Mr. Parker himself. The disappointing first-round draft pick from Louisville, Parker is finally starting to show a bit, why he was picked so high. If there is any value to be found on the Dolphins, it starts and ends with Devante Parker.

Juju Smith-Schuster, WR - Pittsburgh Steelers

What may have been in 2019?! If Big Ben had not gotten hurt early in the season, Juju might have had the season some expected from him in the absence of Antonio Brown. Maybe this would have happened, maybe not. But what we do know is without Ben Roethlisberger, he is pretty much at best a WR2 on his good days. This is a far cry from the top five hopes many had for him. However, it is still better than a lot of other receivers you may be starting, and he is going up against the Dolphins secondary, which we always have to remember for this game.

In the Steelers' final game before the bye, Smith-Schuster caught a touchdown from the third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges. In this game, Mason Rudolph should be back behind center and Smith-Schuster also caught a touchdown from him in the 49ers game. This means he is in no better or worse shape than he was before. He is also far more talented than anyone Miami will cover him with as the Dolphins best defensive player now plays for the Steelers and the other, Xavien Howard, is ailing and may miss the game.

This sets up great for Smith-Shuster to have a good game and hopefully finally, give his owners a boost into the win column for fantasy.


Consider Sitting

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB - Miami Dolphins

Yes, he is a gunslinger. And yes, the Dolphins are going to have to throw the ball. But this is where the good signs end. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not going to lead Miami to a win. The team is not good enough and more importantly, they don’t want him to. Just look at the missed two-point conversion against the Redskins, they are blatantly trying to lose games. This means even if Fitzpatrick does ball out, he may get replaced by Rosen to “see what he has”.

This is a situation to stay far away from. We know Fitzpatrick plays hard. Even at his age and experience, he was giving up his body last week to score a rushing touchdown against his former team. But he cannot do it alone. With Kenyon Drake being on the Cardinals as of Monday the team already preparing for next season, there are many other quarterbacks who should get a start. Whether it be Rosen or Fitzpatrick, neither needs to be rostered or streamed this season.

Mason Rudolph, QB - Pittsburgh Steelers

While it is good to see Rudolph come back from the massive hit levied upon him by Earl Thomas, this is not a game where he will be needed to do a whole lot. He may get you 200 yards and two touchdowns. If that is what you are looking for then, by all means, start him. But his upside in this game is limited.

It is limited due to the fact James Conner should be the main guy against an awful run defense in Miami. When Conner gets a break, Benny Snell will get some work. The Steelers are going to use the run game to ground and pound the Dolphins until the end. While this will get Pittsburgh the win, it is not helpful for fantasy, especially at the quarterback position.

Albert Wilson, WR - Miami Dolphins

Coming into the season, a lot of people thought he would be the wide receiver to own in Miami. After six games, this clearly is not the case. Dealing with injury and bad quarterback play, Wilson has only played in three games for the Dolphins. In those games, the 5’9 and 195-pound receiver has only compiled eight receptions for 50 yards. Not exactly the numbers you want to count on, especially in a low volume offense where his ceiling is capped.

There is really not a whole lot positive to say about the Dolphins offense. This extends to Albert Wilson as he is the third or even fourth option on a bad pass offense. Sit him, or better yet, drop him.

Mike Gesicki, TE - Miami Dolphins

Mike Gesicki had 4 receptions for 41 yards against the Bills last week. That is not impressive. However, this is what we can expect from a low-level tight end on an even lower level offense.

There is not much to say about Gesicki which hasn’t been said already. He was an athletic monster coming out of Penn State last season. It got him drafted in the second round, but into a bad situation with the Dolphins and now, here we are. He provides no real upside or potential, be it in this matchup or for the remainder of the season. I would honestly be shocked if you even have him rostered in anything but the deepest of leagues or two-tight end leagues. Even then, he would be one of the last tight ends who should be used in a two-tight end league.

Vance McDonald, TE - Pittsburgh Steelers

As we said numerous times, there is not much to love about this game. Vance McDonald, the constantly hurt tight end, fits this mold. With Miami being so bad against the run, it will be a heavy dose of James Conner. Therefore, the only target you want to consider other than him is the number one pass catcher. This means Smith-Schuster and not McDonald who cannot seem to even stay on the field long enough to do anything.


Potential Sleepers

Diontae Johnson, WR - Pittsburgh Steelers

We have seen a connection between Johnson and Rudolph in previous games played by the pair. This is the only reason Diontae Johnson is even listed as a sleeper. If the Dolphins are somehow able to shut down Smith-Schuster, Johnson would be the receiver that Rudolph would likely target in the offense. This means he could provide another touchdown on a long grab, the way he did in the 49ers game.

If this happens, even if it turns out to be his only catch, it could make him a flex play. A big game, receptions or yardage wise is not to be expected. However, if you are needing a miracle, and a boom play could win it for you, then Johnson might be an ok flier. But if you need consistent production or a high floor, it would be best to not take a chance on him as he could easily give you zero points if things fall differently.

Preston Williams, WR - Miami Dolphins

With 23 receptions for 314 yards, the rookie season for Preston Williams is going surprisingly well, The 6’5 218-pound receiver from Colorado St. is one of the only things working in Miami. After falling in the draft due to concerns about maturity, Williams has looked to put those concerns behind him and produce on a bad team. At almost four receptions a game and more than 50 yards per game, he is doing just that.

He is not having a rookie season like Terry McLaurin for sure, but not many receivers do. He is still a big target on a bad offense, and someone Ryan Fitzpatrick can find when scrambling for his life. Much like Johnson, I would not want to start him as anything more than a flex play. However, he does have potential to have a few receptions for the Dolphins. So, if you absolutely need someone, I guess he could be in the discussion for a play this week. But, if unlike me you are not blind, make sure to cover your eyes when you click submit. Because it is better you don’t actually see yourself putting him in your lineup.

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