Contributions from Joshua Hudson, Chris Molina, Joe Zollo, & Chris Tyler
The Dolphins need everything. Well, maybe not everything. Their secondary has some talent and Kenyan Drake is so good, they keep him caged up. But that regime is gone and in comes a new one that can get the Dolphins back on track. They made some strong moves in free agency, not overpaying for anyone. Their draft was also solid. Wilkins on the defensive line is a tone setter- one they needed after letting Cameron Wake leave in free agency. Add in a couple of offensive linemen from the Big 10, and they took some strides to fix what broke. (Everything.) They could only do so much with only six picks, but part of this draft class undoubtedly includes the Cardinals 2017 first rounder, QB Josh Rosen. Because the Cardinals paid all his guaranteed money, the Dolphins have a first round QB under contract for three years at the cost of a backup QB, plus a fifth year option. Little risk, big reward. This draft class is (hopefully) the start of a fresh rebuild in Miami. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
The Dolphins suffered a ton of injuries in 2018. Even when they were all healthy, their offense was abysmal- a one trick pony that lived and died on bubble screens and YAC. Now there’s a new offensive coordinator, and those injured players should be healed up by the start of the season. The Good: Kenyan Drake. Electric with the ball in his hands. A good runner and pass catcher. The centerpiece of the offense. The Bad: Devante Parker. He was drafted to be a number one receiver for the team, and he’s failed to live up to that potential. We’re officially at peak coach-speak season where we hear all about how great Parker looks in camp and he’s about to fulfill that potential. I’m not holding my breath. And The Ugly: Does everything else count? On the serious, there’s a ton of potential here, but it’s really only that at the moment- potential. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
The Dolphins may be a dumpster fire, but they’re making the right moves to put the fire out. That said, finding talented players in Miami isn’t the problem- their offense has Fast & Furious potential. The only Dolphins player I’ll probably own is Kenyan Drake. But when it comes to upside, look no further than running mate Kalen Ballage.
Miami, with a new head coach and offensive coordinator, ran a frustrating running-back-by-committee approach that doomed the potential of star-in-the-making Kenyan Drake. That being said, Frank Gore and his 156 carries are in Buffalo. QB Ryan Tannehill and his 24 “attempts” (or scrambles, who knows) were traded to Tennessee to back up Marcus Mariota. So if the new offensive coordinator calls the same number of rushing attempts, there are 180 attempts up for grabs. Ballage was a fourth round pick in 2017 and promptly saw 36 rushes last year. Boy, that Adam Gase really knows how to maximize his draft picks, huh? Ballage is a massive human — 6’2” 237 pounds — and he can fly, running a 4.46 40 yard dash. But for a guy that size, he doesn’t break a ton of tackles. In college at Arizona State, he never broke more than 16 in any season, and last year with the Dolphins in his 45 touches (he added nine receptions), he broke… three. That’s it. (Maybe Gase was onto something.)
I can give you more reasons why I’m not a huge Ballage fan, but the fact of the matter is, he could see as many as 150 rushing attempts this year, maybe more. If he averages last year’s 5.3 yards per carry (he won’t), he could be looking at around 800 rushing yards. Even if he drops to 4 YPC, he’ll be around 600. Fantasy is all about volume. Volume helps predict upside. The Dolphins targeted their running backs 96 times last year, and Ballage has a history as a stand out pass catcher in college — 82-684-2 in four years at Arizona State — which will provide him more touches. The Dolphins offense will take influence from the Patriots who (as we’ve seen throughout the years with Kevin Faulk, James White, and others) target their backs early and often. This provides Drake owners assurance he’ll be around his 66 catches from a year ago. It also provides Ballage owners with the potential for 30 catches. Drake is currently RB26 in mocks on Sleeper, while Ballage is RB59 (in the 16th round!). Both could be around the same number of touches by season’s end. That constitutes as upside. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
When your offense ranked 31st in the league, everyone is kind of huge pile of downside. With none of their players outside of Kenyan Drake being drafted anywhere near starter level, there isn’t much to choose from in terms of current ADP. But looking at last year and how a player performed, look no further than new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Dolphins player offering the most downside.
Fitzpatrick’s career is basically a roller coaster featured at a theme park near you. He’s a backup, then he shines as a fill in starter, then he flops, gets another backup job, is a top 15 fantasy QB, flops again, and around we go. Last season in Tampa Bay, Fitzpatrick filled in for a suspended Jameis Winston and averaged over 45 fantasy points per game- more than last year’s number one QB, Patrick Mahomes. And no, that’s not a typo. He bombed in Week 4 and was replaced. Then Winston sucked and Fitzpatrick replaced him. See, roller coaster. All told, Fitzpatrick averaged 27.73 fantasy points per game, second behind Mahomes among QBs last year. This is what Fitzpatrick can do from a fantasy perspective. From an NFL perspective, he was eighth in deep passing accuracy (48.4%), seventh in completion percentage on play action passes (73.5%), and tied for the sixth lowest time to throw (2.42 seconds). He gets the ball out quickly and behind a makeshift line which saw its starting right tackle leave for Denver, he’ll need to.
But the true downside lies in Miami’s decision to trade for Arizona’s 2017 1st round pick, QB Josh Rosen. It was a low-risk move by the Dolphins as they’re expected to be, well, bad in 2018, giving them a shot at any of the top QBs in the 2020 draft. If Rosen proves to be the answer, Fitzpatrick doesn’t play much and the team can use their hoard of draft capital to improve the team around him. Maybe you take Fitzpatrick as a backup in 2-QB leagues, but relying on him even as a backup has huge risks because of the uncertainty surrounding the Dolphins. Besides, even with reports suggesting Fitzpatrick is head and shoulders above Rosen during OTAs, his history with theme parks isn’t exactly comforting. It’s actually, well, Tragic. Get it? FitzTragic? I’ll see myself out. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
It might be weird to hear Miami Dolphins in the same sentence as ‘trust fall.’ Last year, they were thirtieth in football in the amount of times they threw the ball (455; or 28 a game). Gross. The Dolphins were also twenty-fifth in football in the amount of times they ran the ball (371; or 23 a game). Gross. When an offensive season like this happens, there is nowhere to go but up. So please continue reading. There was one guy on the Dolphins last year worth starting most weeks, and he is currently being overlooked in mock drafts this season as a result. He’s in line to touch the ball at least 50 more times this year. Your trust fall on the Miami Dolphins should be Kenyan Drake.
Last year, you may or may not have noticed that Drake’s market share of running back attempts was incredibly low. Only 37.5% of the Dolphins running back carries went to Drake. He turned that into 120 carries, 535 yards, and four TDs. Drake had a decent year through the air, though. Despite the Dolphins being thirtieth in pass attempts, Drake received 73 targets, hauled in 53 receptions, for 477 yards, and five TDs. If you had to make a guess, one might guess those numbers suggested low RB2 numbers. Drake, from weeks 1-16, was RB17 in PPR leagues. He’s being drafted as the RB25 in mock drafts on Sleeper right now (ADP: 4.12). Let’s put that in perspective. Chubb was the RB14 last year from weeks 1-16. Yes, I know, he didn’t play in all 16, but that is not the point. Chubb is currently being drafted as the RB12 at the beginning of the second round. You can trust Drake to outperform where he’s being drafted.
No Frank Gore or Danny Amendola this year. Frank Gore had 49% of the team’s rushing attempts, and Amendola had 79 targets (17% of the team’s attempts; Drake had 16%). People like Kalen Ballage- he had 11% of the team’s rushing attempts. Even if Ballage got most of the vacated carries, it would likely lead to a 50/50 timeshare. And a 50/50 timeshare sees Drake get 50-70 more rushing attempts. With those extra attempts, at 4.5 YPC (his career low), Drake would score an extra 40 fantasy points (thus vaulting him into the top 10). It is reasonable to assume that the Dolphins offense will at least moderately improve- 25 more carries and 80 more targets would still have them in the lower-echelon of the NFL.
I’m not telling you to trust that Drake will be an RB1, or even the overall RB17, next year. I am saying you can trust that he will be better than his ADP. His ADP is a borderline RB2/RB3. I imagine Drake will be at least closer to a RB1 than a RB3 with the projected extra touches this year. You can do worse than that in the early 5th round (Guice is going two spots behind him). Safe floor. Plenty of upside. Cheap price. Trust Kenyan Drake from this offense. – Chris Molina
The Dolphins are in for a treat with this skilled running back from Washington. In his career at Washington, Myles Gaskin ran the ball 945 times for 5,323 yards and 57 touchdowns. Basically, he averaged 1,300 yards a season as a four-year starter. That’s impressive when you look back at some of the defenses he’s had to run through. Gaskin needs to bulk up a bit, weighing only 193lbs, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking at his production. With his quick feet and elusiveness, he’s going to improve the Dolphins backfield, adding a new dynamic to the team. Gaskin is not just a great runner, but he’s also capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. In his four years, he caught the ball 65 times for 465 yards. So even if there’s a question about who will start at quarterback, Gaskin with be ready as a safety valve in the flats. Kenyan Drake is going to be the starter, but Myles Gaskin has the capability to move into that RB2 position and explode in a dynamic way. Keep an eye on this kid cause he will surely make an impact. – Chris Tyler
It’s a tough look for the Miami Dolphins this season. Lackluster skill position players combined with a terrible defense make for a possible number one overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. In terms of sleepers, I only put Devante Parker here because of his upside. He has never had a stand out season in his four-year career, with his best season coming in 2016 where he recorded career highs in touchdowns and yardage. He took a giant step back last year due to injury, but the skill he possesses makes him a prime candidate for a sleeper. His 6’3″ 216 pound frame allows him to be active in the red zone, and his speed allows him to stretch the field for the newly acquired Josh Rosen. I am not a huge fan of Parker, but if you are in a deep league and you need a receiver in the final rounds, consider Parker due to his big upside. – Joe Zollo
There aren’t really any household names when you look at the Miami defense. They have high hopes for rookie Christian Wilkins, but he is not fantasy material just yet. The only worthy fantasy candidate is LB Kiko Alonso. Alonso consistently finds himself among the league’s best in fantasy football at the Linebacker position. He has averaged 208 points over the last three seasons, and the best thing about Kiko is his versatility. He is not just a run stuffer or a pass coverage Linebacker, he can dabble in both to help rack up points at a fast pace. He is a tiny risk if you draft him as your LB1, but he has the upside to be that guy. I would take him as a solid backup, but if you want him as your number one guy, be sure to take a solid backup who can perform if Kiko is either hurt or underperforming.
Note: Reshad Jones is not on this list due to the crowded secondary of Miami. He is normally at the top of the leaderboards when looking at DBs in fantasy football, but he took a big dip last year with the drafting of Minkah Fitzpatrick and the emergence of T.J McDonald. – Joe Zollo