This season’s penultimate installment of Monday Night Football features the New Orleans Saints playing host to the Miami Dolphins. Both the Saints and Dolphins are in the thick of the playoff race. Each needs a win to keep its hopes alive. The Dolphins are laying the key number 3 at both FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook. Meanwhile, the total is an NFL season low. FanDuel is dealing 37, and ‘under’ bettors can find an extra half-point with DraftKings’ 37.5 marker.
Anytime Touchdown Scorers
Alvin Kamara +105 (FanDuel)
Kamara hasn’t been as prolific in the paint this season. His scoring rate — one touchdown per 27.75 touches — is lower than his career mark (18.48) and dwarfed by last season’s figure (12.86). Running backs fade fast in the NFL — even those as good as Kamara. We’re not writing him off, only acknowledging he may not be the same slam dunk he’s been over the past several seasons. Even with that said, we should expect Kamara to see a lot of touches in this contest. Rookie Ian Book is making his first start under center, so offense for the Saints may be scarce. The bulk of production they muster will likely flow through Kamara.
Jaylen Waddle +130 (DraftKings), DeVante Parker +270 (FD)
Scoring will come at a premium, even for the Dolphins as road favorites. They’ve scored 19 touchdowns through the air and 11 on the ground as a team. Waddle has emerged as the top pass-catching option for the ‘Fins. He has also demonstrated versatility with a rushing touchdown. Parker hasn’t been as prolific in the scoring department (two). However, he’s played well in recent weeks, drawing 24 targets over his last three games. With Waddle, tight end Mike Gesicki, and Parker all active, the Dolphins should be able to stress a stingy Saints defense enough to put both receivers in position to score.
Mike Gesicki +320 (FD)
Gesicki has only two touchdowns this season and has generally left much to be desired in that category as a pro. However, at +320, there is some temptation to bet on his involvement in the red zone. His 98 targets represent 19.1 percent of the total pie, and unlike last season, Gesicki isn’t missing out on touchdowns to other tight ends. There is a reason the odds for him scoring are so long, but there are factors worth considering for those on the hunt for a plus-money bet.
Myles Gaskin +310 (DK), Duke Johnson +260 (DK)
Gaskin leads the Dolphins with seven touchdowns, four of which came as receptions. Meanwhile, Johnson made his first start in Week 15 and turned 23 touches into two scores (both rushing). Gaskin and Johnson are both dual-threat backs capable of scoring on the ground or through the air. The Saints boast the game’s top rush defense, per advanced efficiency metric DVOA, so running lanes will be difficult to come by for both backs. We don’t expect too much scoring, and we respect the stingy nature of New Orleans’ run defense. However, what does draw us to these backs is their versatility. Both Gaskin and Johnson are solid weapons on whom the team will lean their efforts to build, sustain, and cap drives.
QB Player Props
Tua Tagovailoa O/U 1.5 TD +105 (DK)
Tagovailoa has tossed two-plus touchdowns in five of his eight starts, including three of his last four. On one hand, there is reason to be pessimistic on the volume of scoring in this contest overall. The Dolphins, however, will deploy a quality set of weapons for Tagovailoa. With Waddle, Parker, and Gesicki, he’ll have three solid-to-good pass catchers. With Gaskin and Johnson, he’ll have a pair of dual-threat backs who can make plays as receivers out of the backfield. He also has wide receivers Mack Hollins and Isaiah Ford — both with multiple touchdowns this season — for good measure.
Tua Tagovailoa O/U 33.5 Pass Attempts -108 (FD)
Tagovailoa has won his last four starts. In those games, he finished with 33 or fewer pass attempts three times. The Saints’ stout rush defense can often discourage teams from trying to move the ball on the ground. However, they’re stingy against the pass as well. The Dolphins are 3-point favorites, but it’s likely going to be a slough whether they try to move the ball on the ground or through the air. With rookie Book starting for the Saints, this is likely a scenario in which the Dolphins can employ a conservative, ball-control attack.
Ian Book Interception – YES -235, NO +172 (FD)
Conventional wisdom suggests an interception from Book is likely. He’s a rookie making his first career NFL start against a defense that has played well in recent weeks. The Dolphins held four opponents to 10 points or fewer since Week 9 and have picked off eight passes over that span. With the myriad of ways through which a team can generate an interception, it’s easy to lean toward ‘Yes’ in this case. Head coach Sean Payton has the reputation for being an offensive guru and groomer of quarterbacks, and it will require a masterpiece from him to keep his rookie signal-caller from throwing the ball to the other team. However, the -235 price tag may give pause.
Rushing And Receiving Player Props
Alvin Kamara O/U 56.5 Rushing Yards -110 (FD), O/U 26.5 Receiving Yards -115 (DK)
It’s reasonable to expect Kamara to be leaned upon heavily with Book under center. His rushing yardage seems to be set at a modest number — in a vacuum at least. He’s hit 56 rushing yards in six of 10 games, including in Week 14 when he tallied 120. Those looking at his recent performances may be scared off by last week’s 18 yards on 11 carries. However, it’s worth considering that the Buccaneers have had success keeping Kamara bottled up over his career. Miami isn’t as stout in their run defense, but they may not feel the need to respect the arm of Book.
Those with their sights set on making a Kamara wager or two may want to take a long look at the 26.5 receiving yards DraftKings is offering. He’s only hit 27 receiving yards on four occasions this season, but he’s just as dynamic as a receiver as he is a runner, and will likely serve as one of Book’s primary targets throughout the game.
Jaylen Waddle O/U 64.5 rec yards -110 (FD)
Waddle has emerged as the Dolphins’ primary pass-catcher, leading the offense with a 22.2 percent target share. While his season-long average of 9.9 yards per catch is less than impressive, he’s averaging 11.1 yards per grab since Week 8. He reached double-digit targets in four of those six games. Opportunities shouldn’t be a problem for Waddle on Monday, and there are enough weapons available to keep the Saints honest.
Also read: Dolphins vs. Saints betting preview