Despite having the same 5-6 record, the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have had very different seasons. The Dolphins started 3-0 before a four-game losing streak brought them to 3-4, with a point differential of -16. The Jets, meanwhile, alternated wins and losses until losing their second straight game in Week 12, but their point differential of -101 would seem to indicate a far inferior team. The Dolphins are roughly the same team home and away (3-3 home, 2-3 away), while the Jets have had a serious home-field advantage this season (4-1 vs. 1-5). Sunday, the two teams face off in a 1 p.m. ET game hosted by the Jets, with a handful of fantasy-relevant players in the mix:
Start in every league: Defense/special teams
Start if you're desperate: Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace, Charles Clay, Caleb Sturgis
Bench: Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Marcus Thigpen, Brian Hartline, Rishard Matthews
Few units have been more average on the season than the Dolphins' defense, which is the No. 16 unit in fantasy points this season, with three games in double digits and four of three or fewer points. The flip side of that, of course, is that Miami faces a Jets team that has allowed double-digit points to opposing defenses in five of six games, with 10 interceptions in that time. You always want a defense facing the Jets.
Speaking of the epitome of average, Tannehill has averaged 13.4 fantasy points a game this season without ever having a huge game (high score: 17) or a blowup (low score: 9). If you need a quarterback to single-handedly win a matchup, stay away, but if all you need is a reliable producer who won't kill you, you could do way worse. ... The biggest fantasy question coming out of Miami's game a week ago was whether Wallace's big game (127 yards and a touchdown) was a return to relevance for the disappointing receiver, or a dead-cat bounce before sliding back to his subpar performance. Against a Jets team that is more generous against the pass than the run, Wallace could have a repeat Sunday. ... After a strong early season, Clay has scored three or fewer fantasy points in four of his last five games, but the Jets have been generous to tight ends this season, so he has potential. ... Neither of these teams is much of an offensive juggernaut, which could lead to big things from the likes of Sturgis, who, despite ranking only 17th among fantasy kickers, has scored at least eight points in four straight games.
All the Dolphins' running backs need to be lumped together here. Thomas is likely done for the season, so he's obviously a sit, but the typical reaction to that would be to upgrade Miller and the likely new No. 2, Thigpen, and that might be true in the long run, but the Miami O-line hasn't gotten any better, the Jets are the second-best team in the NFL against running backs, and it's not like Miller has done much else this season. ... Hartline's last big game came in Week 3, while Matthews only has that one Week 10 performance on his resume; you need more from either one to consider using him.
Start in every league: Bilal Powell, Nick Folk
Start if you're desperate: Defense/special teams
Bench: Geno Smith, Chris Ivory, Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, David Nelson, Kellen Winslow, Jeff Cumberland
With starting running back Ivory likely either shelved or severely limited in Week 13 with a banged-up ankle, Powell stands to be the biggest beneficiary, as the Dolphins tend to be more generous to running backs than receivers. ... Folk's production has fallen off the last two weeks as the Jets have struggled and weather has been a problem, but he's still a top-10 fantasy kicker overall.
The Jets' defense has been a much better real-life unit than a fantasy one, with only two double-digit performances and negative score in two of the last four weeks, but the Dolphins are a team that lets defenses score, so New York could do okay.
A few weeks ago, it looked like Smith could at least be a matchup play, with a decent performance every other week at worst. But his best performance since Week 7 is 11 fantasy points, and he has a composite zero score in the other three games in that time. The wheels have come off. ... Even if Ivory plays Sunday -- which is looking increasingly unlikely -- he's almost certainly going to be limited. ... It's not like the Jets' pass-catchers -- Holmes, Kerley, Hill, Nelson, Winslow, Cumberland -- are any kind of elite group to begin with, but Smith's increased struggles have robbed them of any value they might have had.