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Opposing Player Spotlight: Week 17, Buffalo Bills

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In Miami’s season finale, the Dolphins will need to watch out for a big play threat that can gash teams down the sideline.

Detroit Lions v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have been eliminated from the playoffs, but the season is not over. The Dolphins must travel to Buffalo for the team’s season finale against its division rival, and despite the irrelevance of this contest in terms of postseason contention, both coaches and players still have plenty to compete for, most notably their jobs. In order to win this matchup, the Dolphins will need to stop Buffalo’s offense from creating big plays and putting quick points on the board. The Dolphins defense has struggled with preventing splash plays all season. To do so this week Miami will need to stymie Buffalo’s biggest home run threat.

Each week of the 2018 season, I’ve highlighted one player on the opposing team that Dolphins fans should be watching out for. For this final week, that player is Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Foster.

Fact Check

Position: WR

Experience: Rookie

Age: 24

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 196 lbs

College: Alabama

Stat Review

Currently, Foster has accumulated the second most receiving yards of any pass catcher on the Bills roster this season with 520, just 39 yards behind teammate Zay Jones. Astonishingly, Foster has done so with 27 fewer receptions. Foster has corralled just 23 passes to reach that yardage mark, giving him a robust 22.6 yards per reception average. A stat like that clearly shows that when Foster does damage, he does it with massive chunk gains that can drastically alter the course of a drive, and ultimately a game.

In Buffalo’s Week 10 rout of the New York Jets, Foster caught just three passes, but racked up 105 yards, with his longest gain coming in at 47 yards. When the Bills took down the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12, Foster brought in just two passes, but one of those was a 75-yard touchdown strike that gave Buffalo a two score lead. In Week 15’s victory over the Detroit Lions, Foster came down with just four receptions, but galloped for 108 total yards. In that contest, his longest reception came in at 42 yards and resulted in the go-ahead score that gave Buffalo the win. Clearly, the rookie has a way of making his catches count.

Key Matchups

Foster’s 40-yard dash time of 4.41 seconds is faster than that of any of Miami’s cornerbacks outside of Torry McTyer, whose UNLV Pro Day mark is the same. With that in mind, Matt Burke’s defense better watch out for the young speedster on the boundary. The Dolphins defense has had a propensity for giving up big plays all season, and given Bills quarterback Josh Allen’s arm strength, you can bet that Buffalo will try and use Foster to stretch the field. In fact, the Bills did just that in the teams’ Week 13 matchup with the Dolphins. In that contest, Foster was targeted four times. Multiple of those targets were down the field, but Miami managed to limit the rookie to just one reception for 27 yards.

The Dolphins are hoping the have cornerback Xavien Howard back from injury for the season finale, a development that would go a long way towards bolstering a defense that has been near the bottom of the league in multiple statistical categories. While Howard could possibly be responsible for covering Buffalo’s top pass catcher in Jones, his return would allow Burke more flexibility to blanket Foster with whichever defensive back he deemed most competent in preventing a big play, whether that be Howard, Bobby McCain, or Minkah Fitzpatrick.