MIAMI vs New England: Strange to say, given the relative achievement disparity between these franchises this century, but the Dolphins have fared pretty well in this series in recent years. Especially ...

... lately, having won three straight and five of the last seven meetings. That includes a 17-16 road win in Week 1 a year ago, and 33-24 at home in the final game of the season. Plenty of new faces for both teams, but no reason to think Miami can't keep the trend going. Above-average numbers, though, are less likely. For all their current flaws, Bill Belichick's Patriots still played strong defense for most of last season. Only four teams

This report is taken from today's Week 1 edition of Fantasy Index Weekly. The newsletter includes our player rankings and 18 pages of matchup previews, plus stat projections and custom rankings for the games being played this weekend.

(If you need help drafting your team, purchase the September 5 Fantasy Index Cheat Sheet Update, available through the store.)

Haven't ordered yet? BUY IT NOW! Already a subscriber? LOG IN!

allowed fewer yards, and only two allowed fewer points. ... In this make-or-break year for Tua Tagovailoa, he probably would have liked to face a softer opening defense. The Patriots ranked 2nd against the pass last season, allowing just 202 yards per game and 21 touchdown passes, and -- despite a 3-0 record -- Tagovailoa has never put up good numbers against them. He's passed for 145, 202 and 109 yards in those contests, favoring short, safe passes and throwing only 2 TDs (while also running in 3 TDs from inside the 5-yard line, at least). This isn't the same defense, particularly in the secondary (with J.C. Jackson gone), but it will probably be the usual tough, stingy group. Tagovailoa's weapons are better, with one of the league's most explosive wideouts joining the roster, but the safer bet is more of the same from Tagovailoa, at least in this matchup, and plenty of conservative throws. If he hits on a long touchdown, it will probably be with one of his dynamic receivers doing most of the work. He doesn't run much (10-11 yards per game his first two seasons), though he has carried in 3 TDs in each of those years, half of which have come against this opponent. ... When Tagovailoa throws, he'll be looking for one of the league's best receiving duos, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Waddle was dealing with some kind of soft-tissue injury in August, but Mike McDaniel says he'll be available for this game. Realistically Hill will probably be the defensive focus, and the Patriots over the years have had some success taking away their opponent's best player. But Hill (with Kansas City, of course) has won more of those battles than he's lost.

Tyreek Hill vs. N.E.
2017W, 42-2771331
2018L, 43-4071423
2018L, 37-311420
2019W, 23-166620
2020 W, 26-104641

Very different quarterback, plus the Patriots were able to limit him in a couple of those games, but best not to get cute with sitting down a talent like Hill. Waddle was also reasonably successful against this opponent last year. He caught touchdowns in both games, totaling 9 catches for 88 yards. If you drafted either of these players -- assuming Waddle is practicing fully by the end of the week -- best to just send them out there and hope they deliver good numbers. ... The No. 3 will probably be Cedrick Wilson, but unlikely he (or any other wideout the team puts on the field) makes much of an impact behind the top 2. It's a different offense, but Miami didn't put a third wideout over 250 yards all season a year ago, and Hill and Waddle should dominate targets. ... It will probably be a one-two punch at running back, with Chase Edmonds playing the most. Running out of spread formations and backs catching quick passes out of the backfield should be big components of the offense, and Edmonds is the best fit for that style of play. When the team wants to work the run or pound out some tough yardage between the tackles, Raheem Mostert will be the back of choice. He was effective as a lead back with San Francisco in 2019-2020, when McDaniel was on staff. New England ranked just 22nd in run defense a year ago, though they tend to stiffen around the goal line. They've allowed double-digit rushing touchdowns just once in the last eight years. Looks like a reasonable enough situation for both these players, though better for yardage than touchdowns. When Mike McDaniel last ran into New England (as a run-game coordinator with the 49ers) San Francisco ran the ball extremely well, with Jeff Wilson running for 112 yards and 3 TDs. And the Dolphins also have Salvon Ahmed, who ran for 122 yards against the Patriots late in 2020. ... Mike Gesicki was drafted as a starter in many fantasy leagues, understandable with him having gone over 700 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons, and catching a career-high 73 passes last year. But it doesn't seem like the team wants to use him nearly as much as he's been used the past couple of years, when he was essentially a big wide receiver in the offense. McDaniel wants more blocking out of that position, so Durham Smythe will be on the field just as often -- probably more. Unlikely Gesicki makes a big impact, and New England has pretty well shut him down anyway in three meetings the last two years (a total of 5 catches for 52 yards in those contests). ... Jason Sanders averaged just 6 kicking points a year ago, but he was a lot better in wins (7.4) than losses (4.5). Miami is a slight favorite. Sanders had 9 points in the home win a year ago (5 in the game at New England). ... The Dolphins Defense has ranked in the top 10 in both sacks and takeaways two years in a row, and it looks solid again this season. But the Patriots, to their credit, have done a nice job of keeping their quarterback out of harm's way, and they're usually better than average at avoiding turnovers. Mac Jones threw 13 interceptions while taking just 28 sacks as a rookie; just 1 and 3 total in the two games against Miami. New England's offense looked out of sync for most of the preseason, so that past history might not hold up, but generally a below-average matchup. The depth chart at the team website lists Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on punt returns and Waddle and Raheem Mostert on kickoffs, but it remains to be seen how often those players are actually back there.