Instead of opting for surgery after injuring his knee against
Arizona in Week 14 of the 2016 season, Tannehill decided to rest
and rehab his ailing knee. That decision proved to be costly,
as the former first-round pick out of Texas A&M blew out his
knee again in a training camp scrimmage, causing him to miss all
of 2017 and the Dolphins finished with a disappointing 6-10 record.
Prior to the initial injury against the Cardinals in 2016, Tannehill
and the Miami offense looked to be clicking in the final quarter
of the season. Tannehill completed 71% of his passes from Weeks
10 through 14, while throwing for at least two touchdowns in four
of his final five games.
With quarterback being as deep of a position as any in fantasy
football in 2018, Tannehill’s lack of top-5 upside will
likely make him a mid-range QB2 and a player that will go undrafted
in most formats. Despite this fact, he does have streaming appeal
for those opting to wait on the position, especially in home games
against the Raiders, Jets, and Bills.
Drake proved to be a productive fantasy asset in the playoff
run last season with double-digit performances from Weeks 12 through
15, including a 23-carry for 120 yards and one touchdown performance
against the Broncos Week 13. When given the opportunity to be
the bell-cow running back for head coach Adam Gase, Drake responded
well with a 4.8 yard per carry average in his final five games.
Despite his solid performance, Gase and the Dolphins front office
opted to bring in veteran Frank Gore via free agency and rookie
Kalen Ballage to compete with Drake for carries. At 6’1”, 210
pounds, Drake is on the smaller size compared to other three-down
backs, but according to PlayerProfiler.com, his breakaway run
rate, yards per touch, and juke rate all rank in the top ten among
qualified RBs from last season.
It appears reasonably clear that owners expecting Drake to be
an every-down back to start the season will be hugely disappointed,
as the Dolphins coaching staff did not bring in a veteran like
Gore to not use him, and Ballage’s talent will earn him
carries and receptions as well. But that does not mean Drake will
not have value this season on a team that could be a sneaky source
for fantasy production in 2018.
It may surprise some fantasy owners to learn that 35-year-old
Frank Gore averaged more fantasy points per game in standard scoring
that Kenyon Drake last season. With 9.1 points per game and seven
double-digit performances out of 16 games, Gore finished the year
just outside of RB2 consideration in 12-team formats. Not too
shabby for a running back with 3226 carries on his legs over ten
seasons of bruising work as an NFL tailback. One of the reasons
why Gore was successful was the fact that he received the ninth-most
carries of any player in the NFL, giving him a volume advantage
over most other backs in 2017. With Drake and rookie Kalen Ballage
in the mix, that volume advantage does not appear to be in line
for the former Miami Hurricane, making Gore a flex option at best
in most formats.
At 6’2”, 230 pounds, Kalen Ballage is a physical
freak who rushed for 20 touchdowns in his final two seasons with
the Arizona State Sun Devils. Enticed by a size and speed mixture
not often found in a 230-pound running back, the Dolphins drafted
Ballage in the fourth round of the NFL draft. While his size and
power make him an attractive sleeper to compete in a backfield
with Kenyon Drake and Frank Gore, his inconsistent play at Arizona
and the fact that he never rushed for more than 700 yards in a
season are red flags. For now, Ballage is third in the pecking
order for opportunities but does have some late-round flier appeal
in 12-team redraft leagues.
The hype machine that is the Miami Dolphins beat writer arena
of the Twitterverse created a monster last season that burned
fantasy owners that drank the kool-aide on DeVante Parker. At
6’3”, 210-pounds, the former first-round selection
from Louisville has the size and talent to be a stud wide receiver
in the NFL, and nearly everyone pegged Parker as a breakout candidate
as a third-year wide receiver last season.
Instead of breaking out, Parker delivered his worst season as
a pro, setting career lows in catch percentage, touchdowns, and
yards per reception, to go along with a putrid 5.6 FPts/G average.
As a player drafted before the seventh round in most drafts last
season, Parker didn’t live up to the hype and proved to
be a title-killing mistake for those poor souls who drafted him
in the middle rounds.
Now that Jarvis Landry signed a lucrative free-agent deal to
join the Browns, the hype train on Parker is once again starting
to build up steam. With Landry’s 161 targets from the previous
season up for grabs and the oft-injured Danny Amendola likely
to take only a fraction, Parker could be primed for that breakout
season that did not materialize in 2017. The most positive aspect
of Parker in 2018 is that investing in the former first-round
pick will not cost quite as much draft capital as last season,
making Parker worth the gamble by owners looking for an upside
pick in the ninth or tenth round of 12-team leagues.
For two consecutive seasons Kenny Stills was drafted outside
the range of No.3 WR in all formats, only to finish as a viable
No.3 WR with No.2 WR upside. As owners continued to view DeVante
Parker as the wide receiver to own opposite of Jarvis Landry,
Stills quietly scored more touchdowns than Landry, while posting
more catches and more yards than Parker.
As a somewhat boring player who lacks the flashiness that Parker
possesses, Stills once again is getting drafted outside the top
36 at his position despite the fact that Parker has been a bust
up to this point and Landry and his 161 targets moved on to Cleveland.
Most people assume that Parker, free agent veteran Danny Amendola,
and rookie tight end Mike Gesiki will be the primary beneficiary
of the open targets in the Miami passing game. While all three
players will undoubtedly benefit with more volume, even a small
increase of one extra target per game by Stills based on his 2017
stats would give him an impressive 71/1042/8 line. He’ll
more than likely be undervalued in your fantasy draft.
The Dolphins signed veteran wide receiver Danny Amendola to a
two-year, $12 million contract over the offseason to help fill
the void in the slot left by Jarvis Landry. Because Amendola managed
to play in only one full 16-game schedule in his nine-year NFL
career, the Dolphins made a bold move by offering $6 million guaranteed
to a 32-year-old veteran.
There is no doubting Amendola’s talent, as the shifty slot
receiver proved to be an excellent weapon for Tom Brady and the
Patriots over past five seasons. But from a fantasy perspective,
Amendola has never posted more than 700 yards or four touchdowns
in a season, and his injury report reads more like a college dissertation
than a player blurb.
Despite the usage, age, and injury negatives working against
Amendola, owners in deep PPR formats may want to consider using
him as a flex option. Just don’t make the mistake of counting
on him as a starter, as history has proven that 16-games is not
likely in the cards for the diminutive WR.
The Dolphins signed veteran Julius Thomas to be the athletic
pass-catching tight end that Adam Gase loves to feature in his
offense. Instead of returning to the form that made him a fantasy
stud in Denver with Peyton Manning, Thomas turned out to be out
of shape and over the hill and proved to be a disaster signing.
To fill a need at the tight end position, the Phins used the
42nd pick of the 2018 NFL draft to select Gesicki from Penn State
University. At 6’6” and 250 pounds, Gesicki has the
prototypical size and athleticism needed to succeed in the league.
He also boasts above average hands and the ability to make circus
style, leaping grabs and will give Ryan Tannehill a much needed
red zone target. He’s got an opportunity to be in the starting
lineup Week 1, making him a viable TE2 streamer.