What works in the Miami Dolphins playbook this year? How about everything.
Nobody has the adequate words to describe Miami's 70-20 dismantling of Denver on Sunday, but we'll try. It was poetry. It was a track meet. It was fantasy nirvana. It was fins to the left, fins to the right, and the Broncos were the only bait in town.
Miami rookie running back De'Von Achane was the surprising star of the day, rolling up 233 total yards and four touchdowns. Nominal starter Raheem Mostert wasn't far behind, with four touchdowns of his own (and 142 total yards). Achane totaled 49.3 points in default Yahoo league scoring (half-point per reception), with Mostert at 41.7 points. It's the most dynamic backfield tandem game of all time.
MVP frontrunner Tua Tagovailia played a near-perfect game, completing 23 of 26 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns in about three quarters of work. He wasn't sacked or intercepted; heck, his shirt might not need laundering. Tyreek Hill was left uncovered on an early touchdown, the springboard to a ho-hum 9-157-1 afternoon.
And to think, the Dolphins did this without Jaylen Waddle (concussion).
Tagovailoa didn’t need his secondary receivers for this laugher, which is why Hail Mary fantasy plays like Durham Smythe (1-15-0) and Braxton Berrios (2-33-0) didn’t come in. Backup QB Mike White had the punctuation mark, a 68-yard touchdown pass to Robbie Chosen in garbage time. Tagovailoa played just one snap in the fourth quarter.
A day like this takes an eraser to the record books. Miami came just two points away from the NFL record of 72, and according to Football-Reference, the 726 yards of total net offense is a new record (the 1951 Rams had 735 gross yards and 722 net yards in an opening-day romp over the New York Yanks). It's the most points the NFL has seen since 1966.
Dolphins' party won't stop here
Okay you want fantasy takeaways. It was quite the unveiling of Achane, who had just two touches in the opening two games. He was understandably started in just 2% of Yahoo leagues Sunday, but his roster tag is 40%. He'll be a signature FAB player in a couple of days. Speed thrills.
Mostert is generally a good player — and occasionally a dynamic player — when he's healthy. Right now, that's no problem. You can spin his career arc in either direction — while he's already 31 and does have a comprehensive injury history, his odometer is also fairly modest. No one knows how long the Mostert party can be expected to last, but he's a good start whenever he's active.
Jeff Wilson Jr. is expected back in October, adding depth and perhaps gridlock. But maybe offense wizard Mike McDaniel can find a way to keep everyone happy.
Tagovailoa looks like a fantasy league winner, one of the right answers, even without a rushing component to his game. McDaniel schemes guys wide open. Hill and Waddle are near-impossible to cover, and YAC-monsters, and Tagovailoa is quick to process and highly accurate. Miami's backs were electric as pass-catchers today, too. Good luck holding these guys down.
If you’re in a Superflex or especially deep league, White has to be mentioned as well. Obviously he’s not in the same talent class as Tagovailoa, but if Tua were to have another injury, White would be stepping into the captain’s chair of probably the league’s best offense. Hill, McDaniel, and friends can make a lot of players look good. In those speciality deeper formats, make sure White isn't unclaimed.
The Dolphins head to Buffalo next Sunday for an early window game. It’s a shame it won’t be played in prime time. (Would anyone complain if every Jets prime-time game were switched to Miami, effective immediately?) The Dolphins have become one of fantasy’s most exclusive tickets. And they were the ultimate easy button in Week 3.
Sam LaPorta breaking the rules
When you think of great tight ends, you think of the No. 87. Rob Gronkowski, of course. Travis Kelce, with his new friend cheering him on. If you're a generation older, you might recall Dave Casper, a Hall of Famer.
Maybe in a few years, Sam LaPorta will demand a seat at the 87 Table.
LaPorta sprung for eight catches, 84 yards and a touchdown in Detroit's victory over Atlanta, his third impactful game in a row. Sure, the Falcons didn't cover LaPorta well on the 45-yard score, but they all count — and it's encouraging that the Lions scheme up downfield shots for their new weapon.
LaPorta easily passes the eye test, a combination of power and finesse. Sometimes he’s running over defenders, sometimes he’s running away from them. He’s now carrying a juicy 18-186-1 line for the year, which comes out to 42.6 points in full PPR.
Put LaPorta's name in the record books — that's the most PPR points from any tight end over their first three games.
For years the fantasy rule of thumb has been to ignore the rookies at tight end; they need time to learn, develop, be trustworthy. Apparently, those rules don’t apply to LaPorta.
Jim Schwartz and the nasty Browns defense
Maybe it's not headline news when the Tennessee offense struggles; this is a unit with problems. But the final stats were absurd. The Titans had six first downs at Cleveland on Sunday, and just 94 yards of total offense. A total suffocation.
Jim Schwartz is one of the best defensive minds in the game, and he has plenty of pieces to work with in Cleveland. The Browns probably should be 3-0; the offense gave away the Week 2 game at Pittsburgh. On the bright side, Deshaun Watson did play better in Week 3, except for one hilarious misplay.
The Browns are interesting again, paced by a defense you don't want to mess with.
Baltimore presents an interesting challenge in Cleveland next week, and the Niners come for a Week 6 visit. The Browns take their bye in Week 5.
Note: This story will be updated with more Week 3 fantasy takeaways