Fins Fantasy: Why the Dolphins’ Defense Could Be Fantasy Football’s Best in 2015
Now I’m going to say what you all must be thinking: “This exceptionally good-looking, smart, and absolutely HILARIOUS fantasy football writer wants me to read an article about a defense? No way, fat chance, HELL NO! Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Allow me to address your theoretical concern. It’s still the offseason in my book, and having a good defense could potentially be the difference between winning the championship, and missing the playoffs. Ok, not really, but it can help your team. And this is the year of the Dolphins’ Defense.
In 2014 the Dolphins’ Defense racked up 39 sacks, 25 total turnovers (14 INTs, 11 forced fumbles), 3 Safeties, and 3 TDs. It also allowed 373 points scored against, and ranked tied for 15th among defenses in fantasy points.
Player Skill/Systematic Fit:
I’ve decided to combine the player skill and systematic fit categories as they are essentially the same thing when talking about a fantasy defense. If you’re upset at this please address all concerns to our twitter page that I totally have access too. Or tweet that I deserve a raise, this is America after all. Now on to whatever category this is.
There are four reasons why I think Miami will have a top 5 (top 10 at worst) defense this year:
- I’m paid (in undying love and affection) to be positive when it comes to the Dolphins.
- Ndamukong Suh.
- It’s good to know you’re penciled in for two games with 20+ fantasy points against the Jets.
- Ndamukong Suh.
In all seriousness, the Dolphins were a league average defense last year in fantasy football, and that was reflected accurately in their rankings. They weren’t exceptional in any way, as they were 12th worst in points allowed and ranked a below-average 18th in quarterback takedowns. Their total turnovers and touchdowns were also fairly pedestrian. The only aspect of the game they excelled at was getting safeties where they ranked #1 with a grand total of 3. Safeties are cool and all, but they have more comedic value (the referee hand signal for a safeties is, in fact, funny) than they have for your fantasy team. Even so, adding a legitimate game changer like Ndamukong Suh can only make a defense better. All of a sudden the Dolphins’ have a 307lb nightmare that makes offensive coordinators, quarterbacks, and offensive lineman alike wet their beds at night. Except Tom Brady… he already does that. (Can you tell I’m an admittedly salty Colts’ fan?)
Ndamukong Suh’s presence in the middle lightens up the load on everybody, as he disrupts the QB, and reduces the amount of time in the pocket, thus forcing the QB to make more mental errors. His impact in the run game is similarly significant, as his combination of strength and agility are unparalleled amongst defensive tackles, as well as his overall technique and block shedding. Additionally, he’ll always absorb double teams, allowing the ageless wonder formerly known as Cameron Wake to feast on lesser offensive tackles. Essentially, Suh will mask defensive deficiencies, and give Miami’s other playmakers (namely Cameron Wake and Brent Grimes) more opportunities to do their jobs. His presence in Miami will make an already good Dolphins’ defense into something special. Oh yeah, Special Teams is a thing too. Miami definitely needs to improve its return game, as 0 return TDs is unacceptable. As good as Ndamukong Suh is, I don’t think he has the power to improve Special Teams. Unless of course he starts returning kicks. And the league thought Antonio Brown could do damage.
Defenses in fantasy football, even good ones, tend to be rather inconsistent. Production really is determined by the offense that’s being played against. A defense playing the Broncos’ offense for instance, isn’t going to put up as many points as a defense playing the Jets. The Dolphins defense was about as consistent as it should have been, usually scoring well against below-average offenses, and generally scoring poorly against good offenses.
Injury history is going to be less important with a defense/ST simply because an entire defense can’t get injured (unless you’re the Giants). However, key pieces can get injured and thus can affect the value that a defense has. There are only 3 players that I’d consider key pieces on the Dolphins’ defense: Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, and Brent Grimes. That’s not to say that other injuries can’t affect fantasy production. The trio of Suh, Wake, and Grimes would just have a more significant impact than if other players went down with an injury. Ndamukong Suh, the most important new addition, has a squeaky clean record… in regard to injury history. Cameron Wake had a recurring knee issue in 2013 that forced him to miss two weeks, and affected his play on the field for much of the year. He still finished with 8.5 sacks, but his age (33) coupled with fairly recent injury history leads me to believe that he represents a moderate injury risk. Brent Grimes tore his Achilles tendon in 2012, but hasn’t missed any games since missing that season. While he is 32 years old and had that one serious injury, I wouldn’t consider him a major injury risk.
I think that the Dolphins’ Defense/Special Teams will be one of the best in the league both in terms of fantasy and in actual performance (but who really cares about reality). Ndamukong Suh’s arrival can only mean good things, as offensive coordinators will need to plan around him and figure out ways to slow him down, as stopping him isn’t even an option. Typically I prefer to play defenses based on matchup, picking up a new unit almost every week. But many fantasy owners prefer not having to worry about starting 2nd tier defenses, which is understandable. Either way, I think the Dolphins’ will have a top 5-fantasy defense and thus will be worth drafting whenever you prefer to draft defenses in the later rounds. I have them increasing their sack total to about 45, increasing total turnovers to about 28, reducing points scored against to just under 300, and adding at least an additional touchdown. And all of this because of one man, nay, one stone-cold legend, Ndamukong Suh.