Connect with us

Miami Dolphins

Fantasy Football: Which Dolphins Players Could Lead You To Victory?

Chris Kowalewski

Published

on

In a matter of weeks, mandatory mini-camp will be over and NFL fans will be entering the darkest days of the football calendar as an uneasy silence reigns over the league from mid-June until the start of training camps in late July.

The stillness is occasionally broken with the news of player injury or arrest and fans eagerly wait through the heights of summer for camp to arrive.

While it may not be the time for on-field action, the virtual world of Fantasy Football begins to bloom during these months and web-traffic fills up with mock fantasy drafts and lists of player rankings for the season ahead.

Year after year the rankings remain remarkably similar with the same handful of players finding themselves among the top of their position on an annual basis, seemingly immovable from their perches of NFL stardom. Those players have such notoriety, reliability and resilience as the kings of fantasy football that, if you listen really closely, you can actually hear Sam Elliott narrating their résumés.

But anyone who has experienced even a single season of fantasy football – whether it was the gruelling lows or the thrilling highs – will be aware that there always seem to be a handful of players who surface from the depths of the mock drafts and countless rankings to save a season. 

It is those players who can find themselves evolving from a late round panic-grab or waiver wire trophy into a key weapon in the battle for the playoffs and a league championship trophy.

Whatever the stakes may be in your fantasy league, the thrill of landing one of those potential players is an exciting prospect. Rather than hedging all your bets on scouring the waiver wire each week, we’re going to have a look at a selection of Miami Dolphins players ay key positions who may be able to help your team this year whether as a hidden gem, or as a clear cut starter each week (Note: There aren’t many of those).

The Miami Dolphins’ roster is widely considered by national commentators to be among the thinnest and least talented in the NFL heading into 2019. It seems like the Dolphins’ injury-riddled 2018 season carried a higher body count than the fiery destruction of King’s Landing and the lacklustre results which followed did nothing to contradict this impression as to the quality of the team’s roster.

But sifting through the broken bones, torn tendons and jammed-up joints of last year is a number of Dolphins players, both veterans and newcomers, who could be the ones to come to the rescue and salvage your fantasy season. Others, you may wish to pick up but would be wiser to leave well alone. 

Either way, let’s dig through the roster and have a look at who those players might be; whether or not you should pick them up; whether they might be able to help and; where you might aim to pick them up when your fantasy draft rolls around.

We’ll assume you’re part of a common 10-team league and, to keep things standardised, use end-of-season stats and rankings using NFL.com’s scoring system.

QUARTERBACKS

We’ll start off short and sweet here. A Dolphins quarterback is likely to be a ‘no-no’ when it comes to your fantasy team. 

Ryan Fitzpatrick may have come out of the gates flying in 2018 throwing for 1,230 yards and 11 TDs and 97.4 fantasy points in the first 3 weeks (!!!) but the FitzMagic soon Fitzzled out (terrible pun, but I’m not sorry) and he quickly came crashing back down to earth in week 4 when he was benched and replaced by the returning Jameis Winston. Fitzpatrick subsequently ended the season as the 28th ranked QB in the league and his history of erratic play is what both prolongs his career and sees him move quickly on, now on his 8th team in 14 years. In addition, he’ll be competing for the job against Josh Rosen which means his position as a starter is uncertain. 

What Should I Do? Leave him alone, but keep an eye on him on the waiver wire if (1) the Dolphins roll with him as the starter, (2) your starter goes down and (3) you want to gamble on Fitzpatrick hitting a hot streak. However, Fitzpatrick should come with a warning sticker and only be used as a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency QB.

Josh Rosen comes to Miami after having been plucked from the rubble in Arizona, where he had been temporarily anointed as the saviour of the Cardinals. Rosen started 13 games on a team devoid of talent at almost every position (Larry Fitzgerald being the clear exception) and looked every part of a rookie in the headlights. With 11 TD and 14 INTs for 2278 passing yards Rosen ranked as the league’s 34th best passer in 2018. He’s likely to grab the staring spot in Miami based on their inevitable need to assess him as part of the franchise’s future, but the unknowns surrounding his talent and ability at the NFL level heavily outweighs any consideration of drafting him in all but 12 team/2 QB leagues.

What Should I Do? Follow the example of the Dolphins front office and spend the season watching how Rosen develops, but leave him off your fantasy team on draft night.

RUNNING BACKS

This is where it gets interesting for Dolphins players and their fantasy-relevance. 

A clear rift had developed during 2018 between Kenyan Drake and former Head Coach, Adam Gase, before his departure. Fans clamoured from the stands about the lack of touches being given to the Dolphins’ most electrifying running back during the season, even as future HOF’er Frank Gore continued on his quest to defy Father Time.However, despite a limited workload, Drake quietly finished the year as the 14th ranked RB with 1,012 all purpose yards and 9 TDs for 206.20 points.

Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea had front row seats to witness the ‘Miracle in Miami’ and reportedly want to establish an offensive scheme which places a heavy focus on their running backs in both passing and ground game. James White (who Coach Flores has specifically asked Drake to study) amassed only 425 rushing yards as part of a busy Patriots backfield but also caught 87 passes for 751 yards and a combined 12 TDs which was good enough to place him as the 7th ranked fantasy RB in 2018.

Although Miami will unlikely field the same caliber of QB, the overall offensive plan will have clear similarities and Drake can expect a highly important role in O’Shea’s creative offense. Reports suggest that the Dolphins will eventually want to move towards a ‘ground and pound’ rushing attack but the O-Line issues, which have been problematic in Miami for far too long, could still provide some obstacles to this. Scheme and planning will therefore be the keys to a successful ground game and in taking some pressure off of the QB.

Dan Orlovsky, former QB and sky-rocketing as a talented football analyst was a guest on the Move The Sticks Podcast with Daniel Jeremiah on Monday this week. He made a valid point regarding Chad O’Shea’s experience at creating schemes to mask the deficiencies in offensive talent and it is certainly not just Dolphins homerism to expect him to find a way to get the most out of Kenyan Drake.

Entering his contract year as the clear starter, Drake will be keen to produce on the field to help in his search for an upcoming payday, whether in Miami or elsewhere.

What Should I Do? Drake is absolutely a target in the draft and one who might find himself sliding down draft boards considering the overall general perception of Miami’s ability to score. Using this to your advantage, you may expect to be able to pick up Drake as low as Round 4 as the 15th to 20th RB off the board, even though his actual value may warrant a significantly higher pick. With any luck you can find phenomenal value here with have filling an RB2 or even RB3 spot and sit back to watch him bring in those elusive points.

Kalen Ballage is the main threat to Drake’s fantasy value on Miami’s roster and he showed his speed against the Vikings with a blistering 75 yard touchdown run in Week 15. Possessing many of the same traits as Kenyan Drake, he’s unlikely to perform much of a power grab in goal-line situations, but in Year 2 his workload is expected to increase which should see him jump from the 87th ranked RB into the early-mid 30’s.

What Should I Do? As the Dolphins move towards heavy utilisation of their RBs, Kalen Ballage is certainly draft-worthy. Although he figures to sit behind Drake on the depth chart in Miami, Ballage should be drafted in the later rounds as a backup in case Drake or your fantasy starters go down with injury. He could end up being a steal as the 4th or 5th RB on your roster may be someone who brings you those much needed points later in the season.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Returning from a hip injury sustained last year, Albert Wilson is likely to be the most exciting WR prospect on the Dolphins from a fantasy POV. Although the severity of the injury is not without its concerns, Wilson’s potential is undeniable.

Taking what were essentially hand-offs to the house against the Raiders and showing his speed and elusiveness in the win over the Bears, Wilson was on pace for a stand-out season when healthy, hauling in 90.18 points in his 6 full games. Extrapolated over a full season, this would have been good for 240.48 points, which would have placed him as the 14th highest scoring WR in the league even with an injured Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler at the helm.

What Should I Do? Wilson’s recovery from a fracture and labrum tear will be something to pay close attention to, but there is some promising potential for Wilson to come in as a WR3 where he could bring some fiery depth to your fantasy roster when injury strikes. Even if fully healthy, Wilson may even come off the board as low as the 40-50th WR and you could find yourself a great value investment which brings in some fruitful returns.

Kenny Stills developed a productive rapport with Ryan Tannehill during the 2016 campaign and demonstrated a talent for hauling in deep passes. Having only recently turned 27, his best football may still be ahead of him and he possesses dangerous speed as a downfield threat. Stills is absolutely due for a bounce-back year, though given the uncertain nature of the Dolphins’ ability to pass-protect, a dink-n’-dunk/ball control style of passing attack may be what we see on game days which would require a slight shift in Still’s game.

What Should I Do? Stills was reportedly taking reps as the slot receiver in OTAs this week – perhaps this is just a sign of WR versatility within the offense, but either way Kenny Stills figures to be a big part of the game plan and will likely find himself as the first Dolphins WR off the board. He will look to improve upon his 59th ranked WR position in 2018 (149.62 points) and would ideally be suited to a WR3 or WR4 spot on your own roster. 

Jakeem Grant is back on the field after suffering a calf/achilles injury in 2018 which unfortunately ended his season early. Jakeem’s speed prior to injury was unreal and only time will tell whether he is able to regain his full quickness, explosiveness and acceleration. Revealed on Tuesday’s OTA is that Grant is lining up at almost every WR position in practice and is expected to feature prominently in the game plan. 

What Should I Do? If the Dolphins are to have any success on offense in 2019, they are likely going to have to get creative and Jakeem Grant will be someone who may be able to help. There may well be weeks where Grant sees significant playing time in creative circumstances and is a playmaker just waiting for his chance. From a fantasy point of view, consistency as to the number of weekly targets may be a concern and unless you have a deep bench on your roster, Jakeem may just be someone you need to watch over on the waive wire.

If you’re a fan of the Dolphins, you’ve probably already learned the hard way that DeVante Parker hasn’t helped your fantasy team to any great degree. OTAs mean it is time for Parker to show the promise which landed him as the 14th overall pick in 2015 but as seemingly happens each year, the hype amounts to little production. Too many stories surround Parker with regards to his immaturity and lack of commitment off the field, perhaps some of which has contributed to a carousel of injuries which keep him on the sidelines for large stretches. Ranked as the 105th WR in 2018 with 60.9 points, Parker’s arrow only really points up but the question of whether he chooses to follow it’s direction remains.

What Should I Do? Parker regularly wins the title of practice MVP. His freakish athleticism and natural talent is obvious but it remains to be seen whether the new coaching regime can help him with the fundamentals necessary for sustained success. If so, Parker could turn into be a point-machine but just don’t hold your breath. DeVante is likely be picked up earlier than he should be based on name value alone – if so, be happy that the pick means someone else may fall to you when you’re on the clock. Stashing him on your bench for depth is fine if you’re one of his remaining believers, but history suggests you are unlikely to get much by way of return if you have to rely on him on a weekly basis.

The dark horse of the receiver group is potentially Preston Willliams. He arrives in Miami as a UDFA from Colorado State where he had 96 catches for 1,345 yards and 14 TDs last season. His boatload of talent, size and physicality could even eventually land him the WR1 role if (and this is a BIG ‘if’) he stays out of trouble and is committed to following a professional training plan to the letter. Miami has been on the search for a true WR1 for years and Williams has a great opportunity in front of him to develop into it. 

What Should I Do? Unless he flourishes during training camp into an obvious starter for the Dolphins, Williams may initially find himself on the practice squad or sitting behind several veterans in a crowded and competitive receiver room. The talent is undoubtedly present, but it is still very early days for Williams’ career – keep an eye on his roster position (especially if injuries begin to mount up) and development for the future, particularly in deep dynasty leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

To say that Mike Gesicki had an underwhelming rookie year would be kind. He was routinely physically outmatched in blocking assignments and the receiving skills which he showed at Penn State were not put to good use in his debut season. From a fantasy perspective, Gesicki finished the season as the 50th ranked TE with 22 catches for 202 yards and 40.2 points. However, TE is notoriously one of the most difficult positions to learn in football and there is still valid and reasonable hope that Gesicki can take one of his giant, bounding steps forward in his second year.

The Dolphins currently have an array of TEs on their roster, including Durham Smythe, Dwayne Allen, Nick O’Leary, Clive Walford and Chris Myarick, making it all the more difficult to recommend drafting any as viable fantasy prospects. Mike Gesicki figures to place himself as the main passing target out of the group and certainly has the talent to do so. A full offseason of professional development and time in the weight room should benefit him greatly. 

What Should I Do? Gesicki will likely go undrafted in most 10 team leagues other than those with extensive bench space, especially considering the Dolphins crowded current TE room. However, he still poses as Miami’s most draft-worthy TE on the roster. His freakish pre-draft combine alone proved that there is a lot of athleticism to take advantage of, and he may make a good backup TE once the season starts if you have space to stash him on your bench. Otherwise keep an eye on his numbers if you tend to stream TEs or need a stand-in when your starter is on his bye week.

DEFENSE / IDP

Despite Brian Flores’ defensive masterpiece displayed in Super Bowl 53, the Dolphins defense/special teams is expected to rank near the bottom of the league after ranking 13th in 2018 with a total of 116 points. They are still young and inexperienced, especially entering their first year of a new scheme and are far from being a complete group. Whilst turnovers will come due to talents in Miami’s secondary, gaining sacks and giving up points is expected to be an issue. Steer clear of picking them to be your staring group as there will almost certainly be better fantasy value available elsewhere.

Having said that, for IDP leagues, there are still some bright, shiny and sparkly pieces on this Dolphins team which may help you increase your point totals on a weekly basis. You’ll likely only carry one of each of these in all but the deepest of leagues, but below are a few players you may want to grab before a run on defensive players begins.

At the top of that list is safety, Reshad Jones, despite an increasing age and a history of shoulder injuries which have cut his season short in previous years. There may be something still to keep an eye on with regards to Jones’ attendance when mandatory mini-camp rolls around but Flores has confirmed he expects Reshad to be there in early June. Reshad’s instagram videos of his boxing workouts should alleviate most concerns about his shoulders and it seems that his previous disagreements lay primarily with the team’s former coaching staff – Jones was publicly unhappy with Matt Burke’s scheme last year, pulling himself out of the game vs the Jets in Week 9. However, if Jones returns to the Dolphins as a happy man, he has potential to revert to his Pro Bowl form on the field and as a vital point machine as a DB on your fantasy team. Always good to rack up a mountain of tackles, a handful of picks, a sprinkle of sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and the odd TD, Reshad Jones is a top-tier DB in fantasy football when healthy and offers the potential of those elusive extra points needed to give you the winning edge.

Xavien Howard will get his picks on the season, but unless your league counts broken-up passes, swatted balls and quarterbacks generally avoiding throwing his way when at all possible, Reshad Jones should still be the best fantasy option among Dolphins defensive backs.

The blatantly obvious other name to keep an eye on amongst defensive players is Minkah Fitzpatrick, especially when it comes to dynasty leagues. This versatile football junkie is a playmaker and studies opposing offences hard. Rumours circling in Miami that he will be used all over the field and he will certainly get his opportunities to make tackles and interceptions when presented with them. While Minkah has every potential, talent and drive to develop into one of the NFL’s top-tier defenders, his varied positioning could also result in a lack of consistency from a fantasy perspective, meaning he could still fall behind other DBs around the league when it comes to points.

Gone are the days when, as a Dolphins fan, you could select Cameron Wake as your DL option and watch him haul in fantasy numbers. Trying to focus on pass rushers who are still on Miami’s roster leaves everything looking a little blurry. Rookie DT, Christian Wilkins is the best bet for Dolphins ‘homers’ who insist on being able to cheer for their team both on the TV and on the fantasy battlefield, racking up 192 tackles, (including 40.5 for a loss) 21 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in his college career. Whilst unlikely to be a pure pass rusher in Patrick Graham’s defense, he may still show himself to a better option than Charles Harris who is entering his 3rd year with a lot to prove. Overall though, it’s best to look outside of Miami for your DL options.

KICKER

If you haven’t seen the videos online of Jason Sanders booting 70 yard field goals with ease, it might be worth tracking them down on YouTube just to see how impossible a field goal at that distance seems. Hand-picked by the Dolphins former special teams guru, Darren Rizzi, Sanders’s leg defies science and he could be primed for a big (in relative terms) fantasy season on a team which could find themselves settling for a lot of field goals. Making those kicks under pressure is another thing, but Sanders has proven he has the leg to make the long distance and could show himself to be a safe option in fantasy in the final round of your draft.

Physically located across the pond, but mentally always in Miami. A qualified lawyer, NFL sponge, aspiring writer and self-proclaimed IKEA furniture construction expert, he’s looking ahead to a brighter future for the Dolphins after decades of wading in the depths of mediocrity. Always on the search for any excuse to talk all-things Dolphins.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scouting Reports

Face of the Franchise Series: Tua Tagovailoa

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Two decades removed from his retirement, the Miami Dolphins are still in-search of Dan Marino’s replacement

Foreword:

7,091 days, 308 games. That arduous, ceaseless waiting period spans the time from Dan Marino’s last buckle of the chin strap, to present day. The Packers and Colts were fortunate enough to hand the ball from one legend to another without skipping a beat. For Dolphins fans, Marino’s retirement coincides not only with the turn of the century, but with the downturn of the once winningest franchise in professional sports.

Chad Pennington’s 2008 MVP runner-up season sits a mere blip on the radar of futility. Ryan Tannehill teased fans for five years before an injury brought all hope to a fiery end. Daunte Culpepper was the worst consolation prize ever contrived and John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White each qualify as second-round busts.

The misery feels perpetual yet, somehow, not defeating. At least the Dolphins got the bat off the shoulder this offseason by taking a crack at Josh Rosen, but his rookie tape leaves plenty to be desired. A first-round signal-caller is the odds-on-favorite for Miami in next April’s draft; a class brimming with quarterback talent.

If patience truly is a virtue, then Dolphins fans have waited long enough. The collective has earned the right to unanimously appoint the next hero of professional football in South Florida. No more arguments, no more debates; just an unequivocal beast of a quarterback capable of willing the aqua and orange to victory on any given Sunday.

The same way #13 did for so many years.

Over the summer we will look at the top quarterback prospects entering the 2019 college football season.

We start with the consensus number-one player, as we sit 10 months out from draft night, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.

Tua Tagovailoa 2018 Film Study

Searching for a third consecutive appearance in college football’s championship game, Tua Tagovailoa enters his junior campaign as the most decorated quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012.

“He does a lot of things you can’t coach — [he] sees the field, throws accurately, [he’s] athletic. He’s got a really unique package.” An anonymous NFL scout told AL.com. “He anticipates throws. He can really visualize a throw. Guys don’t have to be open, he sees openings before they happen.”

Jim Nagy, the Director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, made his proclamation that Tagovailoa would’ve been the first pick this April were he draft eligible. He was not. And so he returns to Tuscaloosa to pilot yet another loaded Crimson Tide team under the watchful eye of both Nick Saban and the entire NFL community.

What Sets Tagovailoa Apart:

Accuracy and Natural Throwing Motion –

After just a couple of throws, it’s easy to decipher whether a passer is natural or conditioned. Whether on traditional drops and, or setting up on the move, Tagovailoa’s arm shows natural elasticity. This trait makes him a threat on structured set-ups, moving left or right, and when attacking the line-of-scrimmage.

The ability to drop the arm angle without sacrificing accuracy is what sets great quarterbacks apart from the good ones — especially in the modern NFL. Regardless of the circumstance, Tagovailoa finds his way back to proper mechanics, using his base to drive the football.

Everything is hard-wired across Tagovailoa’s mechanics. From his feet to his eyes, and his hips to his shoulders, his proper alignment creates impressive torque and spin on a variety of different throw-types (touch, drive, deep). Tagovailoa is the best deep ball thrower on the planet not named Russell Wilson.

Light Feet, Escapability, Poise Under Duress –

A lot of quarterbacks excel at the professional level without seamless weight-transfer. Legends like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger make up for heavy feet with anticipation of the rush, landmark identification of the rusher, but also the poise to pick up the route progression under pressure.

Tagovailoa has that inherent poise trait, but he couples it with effortless capabilities to freely glide in crowded areas. His sound, initial lower-half mechanics put him in a position to drive off his plant foot. This puts him in a position to climb, or throw drive-leg out and flea the pocket laterally.

This marriage of exceptional traits makes Tagovailoa a difficult passer to sack, a legitimate big-play scramble threat, and most importantly, a dangerous off-script play maker.

Processing and Cerebral Aptitude within the Structure of the Offense –

Alabama’s offense is loaded across the board. Opposing defenses often have to send pressure packages to rattle Tagovailoa, but his skill set usually renders those attempts futile. The Bama offense is chocked full of NFL concepts with three-man combinations and full-field reads.

Tagovailoa not only identifies and understands most pre-snap coverages and post-snap rotations, he knows which route combinations are designed to attack those particular coverages. His photographic-like memory allows him to blindly read the backside of a play and rip through his progressions in a flash.

Designed-Run Package –

There aren’t many superlatives needed for this bullet point; Tagovailoa can scoot.

Focused Areas of Improvement:

Short Memory –

Tagovailoa’s shortcomings feel like nitpicking — he’s exceptional. One universal knock on his game is the back-to-back underwhelming showings in the two championship games this past season. Tagovailoa showed a minor penchant to let bad play cavalcade and attempted to press his way through some struggles.

This wasn’t frequent enough of an occurrence to call it a habit, and that’s to be expected from a 21-year-old, but it’s something to watch this upcoming postseason when Bama is inevitably in the hunt once again.

Drive Throws –

Tagovailoa’s arm isn’t on the level of Matthew Stafford, but it’s more than adequate for the professional level. His anticipation prowess helps mask the lack of velocity on field-side drive throws, but the difficulty of those throws increases at the next level (elite athletes all over the field will do that).

Again, this is nitpicking. A good coordinator can work around something like this, but it’s a common throw in the NFL that could potentially prove problematic for Tagovailoa.

Getting Healthy –

The biggest gripe I found with Tagovailoa’s poor performances (poor relative to his early-season magic act) was the limitations of nagging knee and ankle injuries. Tagovailoa hurt the knee mid-season, and the ankle injury in the SEC Championship Game required surgery. The lingering effects were apparent in the National Title Game against a ferocious Clemson defense.

Two injuries in one season is the beginning of a red flag. Another season of nicks and bruises could give scouts pause regarding Tagovailoa’s long-term durability.

Potential Fit with the Miami Dolphins:

Tagovailoa’s anticipation, processing, and recognition of leverage and soft spots in coverage makes him a fit in any scheme. Miami’s offense, under former Patriots Assistant Chad O’Shea, figures to feature a lot of variety devised to attack that particular week’s opponent.

The Patriots controlled, short passing game is indefensible at its peak, and that’s Tagovailoa’s true ceiling. His pre-snap prowess would help Miami attack vulnerable matchups and keep the offense on-schedule. Tagovailoa’s deep ball could finally unlock the true potential of Kenny Stills and Jakeem Grant.

In New England, the Pats built shot plays into the structure of the regular offense. Tagovailoa’s attention to detail and general feel for the flow of the game can give the play caller (O’Shea) a set of eyes on the field to relay tendencies and weaknesses.

Conclusion:

Tagovailoa is the apple of every scout’s eye this college football season. His first colligate action — as a true freshman — was a heroic, championship rescuing performance on the game’s biggest stage. Since that game, Tagovailoa’s ascension has continued on the track of a generational prospect.

Tagovailoa is going to be the first player to hear his name called next April, should he declare (he’s eligible to return to Alabama for 2020). The Dolphins will likely have to obtain the first pick to get a crack at the Heisman hopeful.

If they do, the fortunes of this Miami Dolphins organization will change for the foreseeable future.

@WingfieldNFL

Up Next: Georgia Junior, Jake Fromm

Additional Videos

Anticipation and recognition of three-man route combination

Perfect back-shoulder ball

Footwork to help mitigate immediate pressure

Off-script dynamics

Poor ball placement costs Bama a TD

Rare occurrence where Tua doesn’t account for backside robber coverage

Finds a passing lane, resets and throws a strike

Rare mental mistake

High-level anticipation

Aerial assault on display

One of Tagovailoa’s six interceptions

Push up, avoid pressure, throw an accurate ball

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

How did the Miami Dolphins shape up in Lindy’s NFL Preview?

Shawn Digity

Published

on

Miami Dolphins Xavien Howard USA Today Sports
Star cornerback Xavien Howard. Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Lindy’s has released its annual NFL Preview. It not only covers each individual team but ranks all the best players at each position. There were some surprises, good and bad, but overall, the Miami Dolphins did not get a lot of recognition.

Lindy’s NFL Preview made its rounds on the Twittersphere on Wednesday, and with it came plenty of disagreement. The preview breaks down all the NFL rosters and ranks all the position groups of each team. So, did the Miami Dolphins fare very well with any of the position rankings? Let’s dive in and find out.

Let’s start with the quarterback. The list has three categories: Pocket Passers, All-Purpose, and Best of the Depth. I’ll give you second to think about which category might have a Dolphins QB.

Did you guess Josh Rosen in the Pocket Passer category? I hope not, because that’d be dead wrong. The winning answer is Ryan Fitzpatrick in the penultimate slot in Best of the Depth. In this case, he’s ranked fourth out of five in that category. He falls in between Jacoby Brissett and Blake Bortles.

Now, let’s move on to the pass catchers. The first ranked wide receiver on the list is Kenny Stills and he comes in at 15th on the rankings for the Deep Threat category. He’s tied with Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins, but at least Stills made the first tier (The Ones). The next tier (The Twos) starts at 16 with Oakland’s Tyrell Williams.

DeVante Parker is the next name to make it on the list. He’s listed at sixth in The Twos. Parker and Stills were the only two Fins WRs to make the cut, which shouldn’t come across as a major plot twist since the Miami Dolphins receiving corps isn’t full of world beaters.

The next position on the list was tight ends. You might already know which direction this is headed since the Dolphins currently have a dearth of tight ends that is made up of B-list veterans and untapped-potential second-year players on the depth chart. Neither Mike Gesicki or Durham Smythe were mentioned, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

Nick O’Leary didn’t make the list, either, but Dwayne Allen did. Allen landed on the list at third on the Best of the Depth portion of the list. Allen falls between Virgil Green at two and Cameron Brate at four. The upper echelon rankings featured 16 other tight ends, which leaves an overall ranking of 19 for Dwayne Allen.

Don’t get bent out of shape from the first three categories, the best is yet to come. But not for the running backs. There was no mention of a single Miami running back in any of the three groups: The Ones, All-Purpose, Ground-Based, and Best of the Depth. That doesn’t speak well of the Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage duo.

On to the offensive line, the rankings were separated into five categories: center, left and right guard, and left and right tackles. The Dolphins had two total representatives in those five categories. And one of them wasn’t even on the team a month ago.

Laremy Tunsil is the obvious one and he made it to number 13 on the left tackle list. That seems criminally low to me. Tunsil was behind the likes of Carolina’s Taylor Moton, Atlanta’s Jake Matthews, and New Orleans’ Terron Armstead.

The only other entrant on these rankings was Jordan Mills, who was signed earlier this year after the Buffalo Bills let him hit free agency.

Lindy’s Preview also ranks the top five passing games, running games, and offensive lines for both the AFC and the NFC. I’ll just rip this bandaid off right now; the Dolphins weren’t in any of them.

Let’s move on to the defense; that ought to lighten the mood, somewhat. There’s not anything to mention in the 3-4 Ends/Tackles, Nose Tackles, 4-3 Ends, 4-3 Tackles, 3-4 Inside Linebackers, 3-4 Outside Linebackers, 4-3 Middle Linebackers, or 4-3 MIKE Linebackers

Let’s just skip ahead to the WILL Linebacker rankings to get our next Miami Dolphins plug. And in this case, we’ve got two names: Kiko Alonso at five and Jerome Baker at nine. That’s an encouraging thing to see after going nine categories without seeing any Dolphins. I’m also surprised that I didn’t see any mention of Raekwon McMillan, but I’ll take what I can get at this point.

Another surprise was that there was no Miami safety named, either. Neither Reshad Jones nor Minkah Fitzpatrick made the cut, but I expect the latter to make his presence felt in the near future.

The biggest, and essentially only, bright spot in the Lindy rankings was Xavien Howard coming in at number one for all the corners. You read that right. While it’s certainly up for a lot of debate whether Howard is truly the best corner in the game right now, I’m not going to argue with it. I’m just going to rest on my laurels on X being recognized as the best by someone and be on my merry way.

Another smaller and less-expected surprise was the Dolphins being ranked in the AFC Best Linebackers. They came in at fourth in the conference and nine overall. That speaks volumes of the potential of the position group, namely Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan.

 

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

Ranking Miami Dolphins Starting Quarterbacks (since Dan Marino) #10-1

Jason Hrina

Published

on

Image Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

With Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen both likely to start for the Miami Dolphins this year, we’re about to scream “blackjack!” when it comes to how many starting quarterbacks the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino retired.

No, this doesn’t win you any kind of jackpot, nor does it pay out 3-2 odds if you’re ever-so-lucky. This just means that the Dolphins have yet to solve the elusive quarterback riddle since they used to be the best quarterback-centric team of the 20th-century.

As we depicted in our #19-11 starting quarterbacks list, below is a basic chart of every starting quarterback Miami has had since that fateful 1999 season.

Note: Games Started, Starting Record and Winning % only depict regular season #s (not like there are too many playoff numbers to add). Passing TDs, INTs, Passing yards and Completion % take into account every regular season throw by that quarterback, whether they were a starter or if they came in as a backup.

A couple things to keep in mind with this list:

  • Rankings are based on a multitude of aspects:
    • What did the player cost?
    • What was their lasting impact with the team?
    • Their overall statistical performance and starting record with the team

Check out who cracked the list of top-10 “best” starting quarterback since Marino retired. Take note of the fact that it’s pretty freakin’ easy to accomplish, all you needed was a winning record (in just 40% of the cases, that is) and a positive TD/INT ratio to do so. Yeah, it’s been that bad, Dolphins fans:

~~~

Whether it’s losing records, terrible completion %, pathetic TD/INT ratios or overall incompetence, these quarterbacks are the reasons we have so many nightmares when we think of the starting quarterback position as a whole. It’s thanks to them that we believe less-than-stellar quarterbacks are the best “solutions” we’ve had this 21st-century.

~~~

10) Chad Henne

Chad Henne doesn’t crack the top-10 because he was good. In fact, the only positive highlight I can remember is him throwing a perfect touch pass to Ted Ginn Jr. over three New York Jets defenders.

Outside of that one touchdown pass, as well as the “duel” he had with Tom Brady to open the 2011 season – when Brady (517 yards) and Henne (416) broke the NFL record for most combined passing yards between two starting QBs in a game with 933 (ironically enough, they broke the record previously held by Dan Mario and Ken O’Brien – 927 passing yards) – Henne was a lost cause in Miami.

Essentially destined to be a backup, Henne never amounted to much. Rumor has it, the Dolphins wanted to grab Joe Flacco in the 2008 draft, but ended up getting outsmarted by Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens. Leaving Miami with the next-best option (and apparently, an option they didn’t really want).

As a “waste” of a 2nd-round pick, Henne finds himself below most of these journeymen, even if he accumulated more starts and starting numbers than the rest.

9) Jay Cutler

Smoking Jay Cutler.

He was entertaining for the rest of America, but in the eyes of every Dolphins fan, he was a waste of $10m. It’s one thing if the team “had” to spend the money, but Miami could have carried over that $10m and set themselves up for a better 2018 season. Instead, Adam Gase thought he could salvage the season by luring Cutler out of retirement.

What a mistake.

Cutler was just as good as he was with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos. That is, he was completely underwhelming. Outside of outdueling Tom Brady in Week 14 of the 2017 season, Cutler is best known for not giving a single ***k during his Dolphins tenure. And why would he? Why risk injury when you can ride off into the sunset with an easy 8-figure paycheck?

You could have given me $10m and I would have been just as successful as Jay Cutler was. In fact, I would have won 0 games for the Dolphins, and that would have actually been more productive than Cutler’s 6-8 starting record.

The world thanks you for existing, Jay Cutler. Miami Dolphins fans do not.

8) Joey Harrington

At the expense of a 5th-round draft pick, the Miami Dolphins acquired one of the biggest draft busts of all time.

As if his 18-37 starting record with the Detroit Lions wasn’t enough to deter the Dolphins, it seemed like Miami really wanted to overpay for mediocre starting quarterbacks in the mid-2000s. What started with A.J. Feeley eventually took them down the path of Joey Harrington and Trent Green.

There’s a reason why these quarterbacks were available, and it’s not because their trade partners had someone like Philip Rivers waiting in the wings.

Harrington could land anywhere on this list and you wouldn’t be wrong with your placement. Accumulating a 5-6 record during his time as a starting quarterback with the Dolphins, Harrington threw 12 touchdowns to go along with 15 interceptions and a 57.5% completion percentage. He wasn’t as bad as he was in Detroit, but he was just as worthless to this organization as he was to the Lions.

That is, he was a complete waste of time.

Harrington was actually one of the most controversial placements for me. I could have placed him somewhere in the bottom-10 and it would have been justified. My main reason for including him this high has to do with the overall number of games he started. If any of the quarterbacks below him had started 11 games, I feel like their statistics would be even worse than they already were (a big assumption to make, I know).

Jay Cutler and Chad Henne get lower ranks due to their cost, not their overall numbers.

7) Brock Osweiler

Here’s a man who nearly saved a Dolphins season after Ryan Tannehill injured himself (yet again).

Though his play was erratic, and each throw was an adventure in-and-of-itself, Brock Osweiler was (almost) what you wanted in a backup quarterback. A guy who wouldn’t sink your season if he had to spot-start a few games, and costing just $880k against the cap, his value is what propels him above most of these other starting quarterbacks on the list.

His stats don’t tell the entire story of how his starts went, but the only negative here is his 2-3 record. Everything else? Like I said, just what you want out of your backup.

Due to the Houston Texans vastly overpaying him, Osweiler has turned into a league-wide joke, but that shouldn’t nullify his admirably average performance with the Dolphins in 2018.

Any excuse I get to include this video in a post, I will take advantage of it every. single. time:

6) Damon Huard

Like Jay Fiedler, Damon Huard is a product of having a phenomenal team around him.

That 5-1 record is a sick joke when you look at the potential those Dolphins’ teams had. And when it comes down to it, it was pretty evident that the Miami Dolphins didn’t have much potential to work with at the starting quarterback position.

Huard infamously replaced Dan Marino in that fateful 62-7 playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars – Marino’s last game in a Dolphins uniform. Ironically, Jay Fiedler replaced Mark Brunell during that game and had a better statline than Marino and Huard combined (click here at your own risk).

Huard was essentially a holdover until the Dolphins found a new franchise quarterback (which they still haven’t found). It’s not that Huard did anything wrong (which is why he’s #6 on our list), it’s more the fact that he didn’t do much right.

Place Huard on the same teams Ryan Tannehill had, and you’re looking at a much lower ranking.

5) Matt Moore

The golden boy for much of the Dolphins fanbase, Matt Moore was never anything more than an overhyped backup quarterback.

Clamoring for Moore to start is all the evidence you need to notice how far this franchise has fallen since Dan Marino retired. It was more-than-evident that Moore wasn’t the answer at quarterback, but the backup quarterback is always the most popular player on your football team.

Moore didn’t offer us much hope, but he did solidify the Miami Dolphins playoff berth during the 2016 season. Taking over for an injured Ryan Tannehill after the former 1st-round pick led the team to a 8-6 record, Moore was tasked with keeping the Dolphins afloat for the final 3 games of the season.

And by George, he did just that. Winning 2 of the final 3 games of the season, Moore helped the Dolphins earn their first playoff berth since the 2008 season.

The thing is, Miami most likely would have made the playoffs if Ryan Tannehill remained under center, bringing forth the question whether or not Moore was worthy this entire time or if he was just in the right place at the right time.

Retrospect tells us, he was definitely in the right place at the right time.

4) Gus Frerotte

Gus Frerotte is probably the most-boring quarterback on this list.

Not speaking personality wise (RoboHenne was a thing for awhile), but Frerotte was just a generic starter for this team. Accumulating a 9-6 record as a starter the one year he was with the Dolphins, Frerotte was just another journeyman quarterback making a pit-stop in Miami.

Throwing for 2,996 yards, 18 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, a 52% completion percentage and a 71.9 quarterback rating, there’s really isn’t much to say about Frerotte. He wasn’t horrible, and his starting record reflects the last remnant of those stellar Dolphins teams from the early-2000s.

3) Jay Fiedler

The main reason Dave Wannstedt and his Ron Jeremy mustache failed as the Dolphins head coach.

How do you establish one of the greatest defenses since the Chicago Bears’ 1985 Monster’s of the Midway team and not advance to the AFC Championship game at least once? Answer: Jay Fiedler is your quarterback.

Forever underwhelming Dolphins fans and eternally wasting the early-2000s Dolphins teams, Fiedler was a “competent” quarterback that prevented Miami from reaching their well-deserved apex as an organization.

A 66/63 TD/INT ratio says virtually all you need to know about Fiedler’s potential. Every time you thought the team would take a step forward, you’d come to realize that they were just stuck in neutral.

Fiedler has the honor of being the last Dolphins quarterback to win a playoff game, but was it really Fiedler that earned that honor, or was it the phenomenal teams he was playing with? (rhetorical question, we all know it was the teams he played for).

And the most disappoint part is, when all is said and done, he’s the 3rd-best starting quarterback this team has had in the 21st-century. Ouch.

2) Ryan Tannehill

We all want to bury Ryan Tannehill as a starting quarterback for this team, but is it because he was such a terrible player? Or is it because we are dealing with 20 years of futility and he was just another failed “answer” at the position?

Tannehill cost this team a 1st-round pick, but drafting him really wasn’t the wrong decision. Yes, Miami should have went with their gut and drafted Russell Wilson, but we can’t fault the team for trying to solve the most important position on the gridiron. Since Marino, Tannehill was the first (and only) quarterback the Dolphins have drafted in the 1st-round. If you’re going to be cheap with the most-vital position on the team, you deserve all the failures that come with it.

Tannehill is easily the second-best quarterback the Dolphins have run out there since Marino retired, and it’s not even that close. If Tannehill played with the same teams Jay Fielder had, he would be staring at a better starting record and a much better statline than he currently has. Truth is, Tannehill is the unfortunate byproduct of a franchise that has been inept for so long.

We have rightfully concluded that you can’t bring back a quarterback who has “failed” for 7 years, but is it entirely his fault? Yes and no.

Yes, Tannehill wasn’t “good enough” to lead the Dolphins to the promise land that is productive postseason football, but he wasn’t all that detrimental to the franchise either. The most detrimental thing you can say regarding RT17 is that the team took too long to move on from him. Not his fault.

A b******t tackle during the 2016 season meant Tannehill was unable to “lead” the team to the 2016 playoff berth. Allowing him to reaggravate the knee injury in 2017 was both the fault of the team’s medical staff and his own doing for insisting he avoid surgery and heal his knee naturally (this is the same medical staff that convinced Nick Saban that Daunte Culpepper was a better option than Drew Brees; exactly how much trust do you have in them?).

If it weren’t for the fact that Tannehill’s Dolphins’ career was simply average, he would be the number one quarterback on this list. And that says all you need to know about the team’s anemic answer(s) at the position.

Tannehill threw for 20,434 yards, 123 touchdowns and just 75 interceptions – all while accumulating a 62.8% completion percentage – better than every quarterback on this list except for Chad Pennington‘s 67.6% completion percentage (known for his ability to be a game-manager, and his ineptitude to throw a deep ball) and Brock Osweiler’s minimal playing time (63.5% completion percentage). Thank you bubble screens.

1) Chad Pennington

Here you have it, Dolphins fans. The only glimmer of hope we’ve experienced over a two-decade stretch. Unless you count Jay Fiedler failing to bring Hall of Fame talent far into the playoffs during the early-2000s, we all clamor to that one season Chad Pennington had.

We easily forget that Pennington was on the Dolphins’ roster for 3 years of his career, mainly because his deteriorating shoulder prevented him from playing meaningful football throughout that time.

Instead, the best quarterback the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino retired gave us one magical season. ONE!

Don’t get me wrong, going from 1-15 to 11-5 is one of the most impressive story lines any team experienced in the 21st-century, but it wasn’t enough to solidify the quarterback position for this team. It wasn’t even enough to earn the Dolphins a playoff win – losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wildcard game that 2008 season.

The runner-up MVP – and one of the most-accurate passers in NFL history – threw 4 interceptions that Wildcard game, giving the Dolphins virtually no chance at succeeding. That playoff game epitomizes the Dolphins 21st-century. Just when you think we’ve taken the next step, we get smacked in the face and put back in our place.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

LATEST

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending