Fins Fantasy: Breaking Down the Fantasy Value for Key Dolphins Players in 2016
So, it has recently been brought to my attention by my most adamant fans* that fantasy football season is nearly upon us. Tired of all the in depth analysis and film study I’ve done over the offseason, these fans have clamored for me to resume the award-winning** work that put The Deep End Miami on the map. Being a man of the people, I have complied. So, with all of our fantasy football drafts fast approaching, there’s no better time to kick off The Deep End Miami’s fantasy football column. For our first article, I’m going to outline the potential fantasy output and draft viability of several Miami Dolphins. Because, after all, who wants to root for another team’s players anyway?
**Our articles did not actually win any awards
Ryan Tannehill (QB):
After posting an impressive fantasy stat line in 2014, 4,045 passing yards and 27 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions, Lauren Tannehill’s husband failed to improve in what was a very disappointing 2015. Though his numbers remained virtually the same (4,208 yards, 24 touchdowns to 12 interceptions), he was not nearly as viable as a fantasy quarterback. His rushing numbers were halved, and a fourth of his touchdowns occurred during the two game height of the Dan “Warhammer” Campbell era.
Believe it or not, I anticipate an improvement in Ryan Tannehill’s viability as a fantasy quarterback in 2016. First, the offensive line could not get any worse than it was last year, so naturally I expect some improvement in that area. Second, the wide receiver corps is vastly better than it was last season with DeVante Parker healthy and Kenny Stills not in the doghouse. Third, and most importantly, Tannehill should improve under Adam Gase’s tutelage. For God’s sake, the man made Jay Cutler into a decent fantasy QB last year. I’m not going to argue whether or not Ryan Tannehill is a franchise quarterback. In addition to being a trivial argument that pokes the proverbial bear, fantasy football is strictly a numbers game. Considering the statistics the former wide receiver has posted in the past, I’m confident he’ll be a fine QB2. Just don’t draft him as your QB1 and you’ll be solid with the man of Steel as your backup option.
Jay Ajayi (RB):
Initially, I loved this pickle juice connoisseur’s chances to produce big numbers this season. However, watching the starting offensive line struggle in the first preseason game has tempered my expectations (looking at you, Dallas Thomas). Hopefully Laremy Tunsil will be the guard starting in place of Dallas Thomas by the start of the season. Even though I’m worried about pass protection regardless of who starts at left guard, I still feel that the run blocking will be adequate. Ajayi’s diverse skill set as both a hard-nosed bruiser and a shifty receiver give him a high ceiling. Unfortunately, his documented injury issues and the stable of talented backs around him make him a pretty risky pick. The dearth of solid running back talent in the NFL will likely lead to a high draft position (probably around the 3rd-4th round) but I would not feel comfortable with taking him that early. The safer option would be to play the field and try to steal him in the late 4th-5th round as a decent RB2 with upside.
Arian Foster and Kenyan Drake (RBs):
Though Foster and Drake have very different roles and skill sets, I’m going to rope the two backup RBs for the sake of convenience. Both of these guys are backup running backs with a lot of talent. They’re also immense injury risks. Drake, a 3rd round rookie, has already suffered a hamstring injury and has not seen the field yet. Foster, a former Pro Bowler, was just activated off the PUP list and will have his first meaningful football action since tearing his Achilles last season. Needless to say, I’m not confident in either of these two to produce fantasy numbers consistently so long as Ajayi remains healthy, and even then their own injury issues are a cause for concern. Both do have high upside, especially Foster, and I think it’s reasonable to draft either of them once your starting lineup is filled. A 10th round pick or later would be good value for Foster, and a 14th/15th round flier on Drake would be appropriate.
Jarvis Landry (WR):
With Juice, you know volume is never going to be an issue. Ryan Tannehill’s safety blanket in the slot actually has the most receptions in a receiver’s first two years in NFL history. Though 100-yard games have been hard for him to come by, his steady stream of targets/receptions makes him an extremely consistent option regardless of matchup. His low YPC average of 10.5 in 2015 wasn’t even an issue considering he caught 110 of those dink and dunk type passes. He’s never going to be an Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham, and that doesn’t matter. So long as he continues what he has been doing, he’ll be a solid WR2/Flex option in standard leagues and he’ll be an incredible WR2 option in PPR formats. If you can manage to get him in the 4th round or later, you’re in good shape. Though, I would not be opposed to drafting him in the early 3rd round in PPR leagues.
DeVante Parker (WR):
DeVante Parker did not explode onto the scene until the last few weeks of the season last year due to his foot injury. But boy, was it worth waiting. DeVante Parker is the prototypical outside receiver the Dolphins had been looking for since trading Brandon Marshall in 2012. His athletic ability is among the best in the league, and his hands and route running are exemplary in their own right. Even better, from a fantasy standpoint, the numbers support that notion. In the last 6 games of the season, when he finally received playing time, he produced 445 yards and 3 TDs. If he puts up numbers of that caliber over the course of a full 2016 season, he could have 1,200 yards and 8+ TDs. Numbers like that make him an excellent WR2 and even a lower end WR1. Considering Parker’s injury history and small sample size, I encourage you to remain cautious if you intend on drafting the sophomore wide receiver. The rest of the general population has not watched Parker as closely as you or I have, instead they view him as a WR3/Flex with upside. Though he’s potentially worth a 3rd or 4th round pick, you should be able to wait until the 5th or even the 6th round.
Kenny Stills and Leonte Carroo (WRs):
As the presumed 3rd and 4th wide receivers on the Dolphins’ depth chart, these two talented wide receivers have some value in regard to fantasy football. Carroo looked good in his debut in the preseason, and Stills is only a year removed from being the New Orleans Saints leading wide receiver. While Stills has more value at this point in time, it’s worth noting that neither will be worth more than a late round flier in your fantasy draft. Though coaches have raved about Stills and Carroo is a 3rd round pick, there simply are not enough targets to go around to feed 3+ wide receivers consistently. If you feel highly about either of these two, a 13th-15th round flier pick could be worth it for you. Personally, I prefer Stills to Carroo, and if you want to help form your opinion on Stills in particular you can read The Deep End Miami’s in depth analysis on him here.
Jordan Cameron (TE):
Jordan Cameron was once a Pro Bowl tight end. The numbers have shown that those days are behind him. Injuries have seemed to take their toll, which led to a very disappointing 2015 (386 yards and 3TDs). I can’t totally rule out a turnaround based on the Adam Gase effect, but wait for some evidence on the field before drafting him. A 15th round flier pick is probably his best-case scenario as far as value is concerned.
Miami Dolphins (DEF/ST):
Defenses in fantasy football, even good ones, tend to be rather inconsistent. Production really is determined by the offense that’s being played against. Last year, I picked up the only exception to that rule, the Denver Broncos defense, before Week 1 and rolled with them every week. But typically, I tend to pick up a new defense every week based on the matchup. The Dolphins’ aggressive play-style under Vance Joseph is going to be inconsistent, but expect them to feast on inferior competition. The addition of Jakeem Grant as a returner adds to that narrative. Your best bet is to draft the best defense available, and just scour the waiver wire every week to find the best matchups until your inevitable Super Bowl victory.