Week 16 of the 2021 NFL season wraps up with Monday Night Football as the New Orleans Saints play host to the Miami Dolphins. Here is my fantasy football preview to the game, offering up my starts and sits and DFS plays for Monday night action.
Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints
Over/Under Points Scored: 38.5
QB Tua Tagovailoa – The ‘Fins opened as +3 road underdogs in one of the week’s lowest totaled games. Tua and his 3rd ranked Completion Percentage Above Expectation (CPAE), 3.1%, should bring high-floor QB2 fantasy value here but his chances of a high-ceiling outing are low.
WR Jaylen Waddle – MIA’s done a great job of developing Waddle’s route tree and pre-snap versatility this year. Through Weeks 1-4, Waddle operated with a 77.4% slot rate and an average depth of target (aDot) of just 3.8 yards. Over his last 4 games, Waddle ran routes in the slot on just 47.0% of routes and his aDot increased to 8.4. It’s worth noting that he spent last week on the COVID-19/Reserve List and many players have had a drastic reduction in production in their first week back after battling the virus. Waddle’s a low-floor/very high-ceiling WR2.
WR DeVante Parker – Parker returned from Injured Reserve (hamstring) in Week 13 and found himself in a steady perimeter role, catching 5 passes on 5 targets for 62 yards before going 4-of-8 for 68 yards and 1 touchdown post-bye in Week 15 (sans Waddle). He’s a high-floor WR3 for his Week 16 date with NOLA CBs Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo.
WR Isaiah Ford – Albert Wilson was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve List over the weekend and Ford appears to have leapfrogged Mack Hollins on the depth chart. He’s got a tough matchup and lacks talent. He’s outside of the position’s top-50 in redraft and can only be used as a contrarian DFS play. Miami is tied for the 3rd highest first-half early-down pass rate, 61% (SharpFootballStats.com), so there is a glimmer of hope for him.
TE Mike Gesicki – Gesicki is frequently getting out-snapped by blocker Durham Smythe but the team has been funneling targets to Gesicki (17 over the last 2 games) so we can expect a reasonable workload here. Unfortunately, the tight end/slot receiver will have to win against stud DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, which puts his floor firmly in jeopardy. His ceiling keeps him solidified as a fantasy TE1 though.
RBs Duke Johnson Jr. and Myles Gaskin – A grotesquely opaque situation. Gaskin was relegated to a part-time role last week, coming off of the COVID-19/Reserve List but in-season signee Johnson had himself a day; 22 carries, 107 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 1 reception, 1 target, and 20 receiving yards. The latter had totaled just 6 snaps in 2021 before that. As mentioned above, many players flop in their return from battling the coronavirus so it’s possible Gaskin is reinserted as the team’s starting but coach speak has been thoroughly ambiguous. The best guess is that Johnson retains lead ball carrying duties while Gaskin factors in as a featured receiver out of the backfield with (hopefully) five or more carries. Johnson is no slouch as a pass catcher though and has played well in pass protection for much of his career–an area Gaskin has been very hit-or-miss. Both men are ambiguous RB3s with low-floors and unknown ceilings although the absences of New Orleans’ ILBs Demario Davis (IR) and Kwon Alexander (COVID-19), as well as run-thumping safety Malcolm Jenkins (IR) could aid the Dolphin-backs.
New Orleans Saints
QB Ian Book – The rookie will make his career debut against the league’s No. 1 defense in QB pressure rate (27.7%) and No. 2 in passes defended (80) and his left tackle is dealing with a debilitating knee injury. Do not start him.
Update 12/27/21: LT Terron Armstead is inactive.
WR Marquez Callaway – Outside of the position’s top-50 in redraft but the best WR-bet to at least do something.
WR Tre’Quan Smith – Not redraft relevant with Book at the wheel.
TE Nick Vannett – Book made a habit of targeting tight ends (Michael Mayer, Cole Kmet) and big-bodied receivers (Chase Claypool, Miles Boykin) in college so Vannett could bring sneaky DFS/high-end TE2 value.
RB Alvin Kamara – Since returning from knee and hamstring injuries two weeks ago, Kamara has averaged a 67.5% snap rate with vastly different workloads. He’s integral to New Orleans’ success so expect a heavy helping of touches this week. One hopes that Book will checkdown frequently but as mentioned above, he’s chucked it to the big boys for the last few years. Kamara remains a touch-based fantasy RB1.
RB Mark Ingram – Not redraft relevant.
RB Ty Montgomery – Just a blocking back/cardio guy.