QB Chad Henne
Henne’s fantasy stock was on the rise entering 2010 after the Dolphins traded for Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The acquisition of Marshall provided Henne with a true number one wide receiver for the first time. With another year under his belt, a solid running game, and Marshall opening up defenses, Henne seemed like a sound bet to have a productive season under center for Miami. Unfortunately for Henne’s owners, he failed to take advantage of the situation and had a disappointing season, throwing for just 3,301 yards with 15 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He enters 2011 knowing it is a pivotal year in his career. The 2008 second-round pick’s contract is up after the season and he knows this will be his last chance to solidify the starting position in Miami. While he will be motivated, we don’t like his chances of having a breakout season. Henne’s prospects of developing into a fantasy starter are slim, and he fits in as a low-end fantasy backup with little upside.
RB Daniel Thomas
With the aging duo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams having substandard seasons in 2010 and sitting on expiring contracts, the Dolphins traded up to take Kansas State’s Daniel Thomas in the second round, dealing three of their draft picks to get him. The bruising 6’0”, 230-pound runner enters a great situation in Miami and figures to have the inside track on opening the season as the starter. He was highly productive running the ball at Kansas State and he can contribute in the passing game as well. Given his opportunity, Thomas is in a virtual dead heat with the Saints’ Mark Ingram to be the top rookie running back taken in redraft formats, and he likely ranks behind only Ingram in dynasty rookie drafts. He enters the season as a low-end RB2 or high-end RB3 with upside.
WR Brandon Marshall
With his trade to the Dolphins prior to the 2010 season, Marshall brought considerable talent to the passing game in Miami. Unfortunately, he also brought a considerable amount of baggage—and he has proceeded to add to it. The Dolphins knew in advance how that equation works, but Marshall, while having a solid year by most standards, had his worst season since his breakout campaign in 2007. After totaling 307 receptions for 3,710 yards and 23 touchdowns during his final three years in Denver, his production plummeted to 86 receptions for 1,014 yards and a measly three touchdowns in Miami. The low touchdown total caused him to drop to 27th in the wide receiver rankings after finishing no worse than 11th over the previous three seasons. Worse yet, he pouted both on and off the field about his role, despite having just eight fewer targets (in one fewer game played) in 2010 than in 2009. Marshall is a big name who will be drafted as a WR1, but there are better options out there that carry far less risk (considering Marshall’s attitude and his quarterback). Buyer beware.
WR Davone Bess
He’s not that big, not that fast, and not exactly the shiftiest receiver in the league. No matter, all Bess does is get open and move the chains, earning the trust of the Dolphins coaches and, more importantly for his fantasy owners, plenty of targets. He has improved his numbers in each of his three years in the league and enjoyed a career year in 2010 with 79 receptions for 820 yards and five touchdowns, all career highs. Considering his penchant for plenty of receptions but not many big plays, Bess is a player whose ranking depends on your league’s scoring system. In redraft formats, he is clearly a WR4 or low-end starter. In point per receptions leagues, he is a solid WR3. Given his lack of star power and the dearth of big plays he provides, he should be a bargain on draft day.
WR Brian Hartline
Hartline emerged as the Dolphins’ starting wide receiver opposite Brandon Marshall last year but failed to capitalize on the opportunity. Despite having the talented Marshall opposite him and seeing his targets increase from 56 to 73, Hartline registered minimal improvements in receptions (31 to 43) and receiving yards (506 to 615) while suffering a drop in touchdowns (three to one). Although the 2009 fourth-round pick is entering his third season, a breakout seems highly unlikely given his marginal skill set. On a Dolphins team that would prefer to feature the run more than they did in 2010, Hartline is the third option in the passing game behind Marshall and slot receiver Davone Bess. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if 2011 fourth-round pick Edmond Gates emerges as the starter by midseason.
TE Anthony Fasano
Fasano enters 2011 coming off of career highs in both receptions (39) and receiving yards (528). Still, his best fantasy season came in 2007 when he padded his fantasy point total with seven touchdowns. Entering his sixth season in the league, Fasano isn’t a player who is about to emerge as a solid pass-catching tight end, nor is he likely to catch a pile of touchdowns with Brandon Marshall in the lineup. He’s a low-end TE2 with little potential. Better to take a flier on a younger tight end who has some upside.