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2019 Team Report: Miami Dolphins

Offensive Philosophy

The offense Miami is likely to install favors fast, streamlined playcalls with route combinations each designed to attack a different type of coverage. The scheme is favored because it is so flexible, but relies heavily on its quarterback's ability to recognize coverages pre-snap so he quickly knows where to go with the football after the snap.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Backup(s): Josh Rosen, Jake Rudock

Starting QB: The Dolphins finally tossed in the towel on Ryan Tannehill, finally trading him to the Tennessee Titans for a pair of picks. Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick, a guy who is always just good enough to convince you he's worth the money before imploding. Fresh off yet another uninspiring stint, this time over in Tampa Bay, Fitzpatrick walks into a situation where he has a few good weapons, and a decent offensive line. The Dolphins may draft a quarterback this year or they may be looking to do badly enough to get a shot at a top prospect in 2020. Fitzpatrick is a gunslinger, which can yield big results or disaster-if Miami is willing to ride the roller-coaster that is as much Fitztragic as Fitzmagic, he should get them through the 2019 season.

Backup QB: The Dolphins didn't have much behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, so they made the move to acquire Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals. Rosen had a rough rookie season, but he had no help from his team. Clearly the Dolphins see the upside and it's pretty high, with little downside given Rosen's cheap contract. Head coach Brian Flores said Rosen has to earn the job but he has a strong shot at the starting job. Jake Rudock lost the backup job in Detroit to Matt Cassell, which should tell you almost everything you need to know about him and his below-average strength arm.

Running Backs

Starter: Kenyan Drake
Backup(s): Kalen Ballage, Kenneth Farrow, Mark Walton, Myles Gaskin [R]
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: Kenyan Drake has shown flashes in the past, but didn't get the carries everyone expected last season and often found himself in a running back committee approach. Drake ran the ball more then ten times just five times last year, severely limiting his ability to get into a rhythm. With Adam Gase gone, the expectation is that new head coach Brian Flores will finally allow Drake to be the primary. He'll see some competition from Kalen Ballage in camp, but if Drake can regain the form he had in 2017 once Jay Ajayi was gone, his speed and ability should flourish. One other problem which might rear its ugly head again is an occasionally shaky offensive line and, more importantly, a defense which gave up enough points to force Miami to throw, keeping Drake sidelined.

Backup RBs: Kalen Ballage told the Miami Herald he is gunning for the lead back job, saying to columnist Barry Jackson, "It doesn't really matter who had the most playing time in the past. I'm ready to do my thing." Ballage has a nice size/speed combination, but has yet to stand out over the course of limited carries. Kenneth Farrow has had a cup of coffee with several NFL teams but most recently saw the field for the San Antonio Commanders of the now-defunct AAF.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, DeVante Parker
Backups: Jakeem Grant, Brice Butler, Isaiah Ford, Ricardo Louis (inj), Reece Horn, Preston Williams [R]

Starting WRs: With Jarvis Landry in Cleveland last season, the Miami passing offense took a major step backwards. Ryan Tannehill was part of that, and you can argue Landry was never quite consistent enough for the Dolphins, but every single person the team depended on at the position was either hurt or bad. Kenny Stills was coming off a nice 2017 season where he caught 58 passes for 847 yards, catching just 37 passes for 553 yards. He did find the end zone six times, but overall he didn't look good. Albert Wilson had a few flashes before ending up on Injured Reserve with a hip injury and remains sidelined during Miami's offseason program. And Devante Parker was convinced he was going to be cut before getting a two-year contract in March. These three have to step up this season. Wilson and Parker have to stay healthy, while Still has to find a way to be more consistent than he was in 2018. None of them are top-shelf receivers, and this is going to be a limited passing offense, but if it's going to even have a little success, this trio has to perform consistently.

Backup WRs: Jakeem Grant nearly ruptured his Achilles last season but ended up needing surgery anyway and lost the rest of the season. He will not be ready for camp, but will be ready for the season. With a new coaching staff in town, that is a big disadvantage though, and leaves an opening for the guys behind him. Brice Butler had injury issues early last season, had a few games for Dallas and then was cut, landing in Miami in time for Week 12's game against Indianapolis. Butler was relatively quiet but has some height and could be a decent target for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Isaiah Ford missed most of his rookie season while recovering from surgery to repair meniscus damage in August. A productive receiver at Virginia Tech, Ford didn't do much in camp before his injury, and his slim build is a worry, but he is a former basketball player with range to go up and get the ball. Ricardo Louis had a quiet two years for the Cleveland Browns before missing all of 2018 with a neck injury. He is not quite ready to play and needs some work when he can get back on the field, but has some special teams potential. All that will have to wait until 2020, as Louis suffered a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve. Reece horn signed as a street free agent for Tennessee in 2016 and has floated around since. He's likely to be a warm body for OTAs and early camp until the multiple banged up Dolphins receivers can return. Preston Williams had a tremendous 2018 at Colorado State, but there are some work ethic questions, and between transferring from Tennessee, numerous failed drug tests and getting disinvited from the Combine for a 2017 domestic violence arrest, he's got very little room for mistakes.

Tight Ends

Starters: Mike Gesicki
Backups: Dwayne Allen, Durham Smythe, Clive Walford, Nick OLeary

Mike Gesicki was expected to make a splash last season, but barely made a ripple. He's bulked up this year after having been manhandled too often by defenders, which was one of the reasons he saw just 32 targets. Another reason was that he struggled in pass protection. Gesicki has the athleticism and size to be a solid move-tight end, and the team expects him to take a step forward. If not, former Colts and Patriots tight end Dwayne Allen can help pick up the slack, though the team views Allen as more of an in-line tight end who will mostly block. The same for Durham Smythe, who was mostly a blocking sled at Notre Dame and retained that job last season for Miami. Smythe will compete with Clive Walford and Nick O'Leary for the final tight end spot. Walford had some solid moments in Oakland but didn't last with the Jets last season, while O'Leary previously played in Buffalo for three years before landing in Miami last season. Neither has really stood out at previous destinations.

Place Kicker

Jason Sanders: Sanders point total was anemic after the seventh-round pick won the team kicker battle as a rookie, but he still made 90 percent of his field goal attempts and did not miss from under 40 yards. He also had one of the best touchback percentages in the league. The Dolphins offense isn't going to take a big step forward this year, so expect Sanders to remain one of the least exciting kickers to start in fantasy leagues even though Miami should be excited that they found a cheap answer at kicker for the next three years.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Jakeem Grant, Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage

One of just six players with 50 kickoff returns and 50 punt returns over the last three seasons, Jakeem Grant is as dependable as they come on special teams. The Dolphins have traditionally liked to mix in several other players to keep him fresh, but Grant has handled the majority of the team's returns.

Punt Returners: Jakeem Grant, Kenny Stills, Kalen Ballage

One of just six players with 50 kickoff returns and 50 punt returns over the last three seasons, Jakeem Grant is as dependable as they come on special teams. The Dolphins have traditionally liked to mix in several other players to keep him fresh, but Grant has handled the majority of the team's returns.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Laremy Tunsil, Michael Deiter [R], Daniel Kilgore, Jesse Davis, Jordan Mills
Key Backups: Zach Sterup, Isaiah Prince [R], Kyle Fuller, Chris Reed

Left tackle Laremy Tunsil is an excellent young player and has the rare physical talent to man the blind side for years to come. Left guard will be manned by third round rookie Michael Deiter from Wisconsin. Center Daniel Kilgore ended last season on the injured reserve and his return lends some sense of consistency to this rebuilding group. Right guard Chris Reed is a versatile player arriving from Jacksonville, who also has experience at center. Jesse Davis can be an impact player in the run game at guard. The team lost their starter Ju'Wuan James to free agency and Zach Sterup was playing with the first team in minicamp. They signed Jordan Mills after the draft, who will compete to start but will be only adequate and durable in a best case scenario. The team added Isaiah Prince in the sixth round from Ohio State but he might need a year (or more) to develop. Overall, this is a low-tier group due to changes in the lineup, but their grade can rise with more production from the left guard and right tackle position.

Team Defense

The Dolphins defense was reasonably consistent and productive in fantasy leagues last year. They were a net contribution to lineups in more than half of the games with a mix of timely takeaways, sack binges, and multiple scores by both the defense and return games. The team's game scripts make a repeat of that performance a difficult proposition in a season that will likely end up with the Dolphins picking in the top five of the 2020 draft. The team does have some young talent in the back seven and added cornerstone Christian Wilkins at defensive tackle with their first round pick, but we should only be open to using them later in the season in plum matchups against backup quarterbacks at home.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Charles Harris, DT Christian Wilkins [R], DT Davon Godchaux, DE Jonathan Woodard
Backups: DE Tank Carradine, DT Vincent Taylor, DT Akeem Spence, DE Nate Orchard

Starting DL: This is a year of transition for Miami as they will be without Cameron Wake for the first time since 2009. With Robert Quinn and Andre Branch also gone, Charles Harris will be thrust into a key role. While his production thus far has been underwhelming, he is a former 1st round pick who should see a huge increase in playing time. Christian Wilkins was drafted with the 13th overall pick and should become a key building block here. He played on a stacked defensive line in college and has the potential to be an above-average three-technique tackle who can get to the quarterback. Davon Godchaux is not a prototypical nose tackle so it's likely he'll fit better as another penetrating tackle who can shoot gaps and try to disrupt plays on occasion. The other defensive end is likely to be filled by Jonathan Woodard as the only other option who returns from 2018. The former 7th round pick is listed at 6'6" so he has the height to clog passing lanes but he's almost completely unproven as a pass rusher.

Backup DL: There is very little depth throughout nearly the entire defense, but particularly up front. Tank Carradine has some starting experience with the 49ers but failed to make an impact with the Raiders last year. Vincent Taylor and Akeem Spence were both parts of the defensive tackle rotation last year but neither player is much of a difference maker.

Linebackers

Starters: WLB Kiko Alonso, MLB Raekwon McMillan, SLB Jerome Baker
Backups: ILB Mike Hull, OLB Chase Allen, OLB Jayrone Elliott

Starting LBs: Kiko Alonso is coming off the most productive year since his rookie season and should be safe in his role as a 3-down linebacker here. As a 29-year old linebacker on a rebuilding team, however, there has to be some concern that he may not be in the team's long term plans. Raekwon McMillan was expected to upgrade the middle of the defense but failed to impress due to his limitations in coverage. If he's limited to a 2-down role, his fantasy value will remain very limited. Jerome Baker was a nice find in the 3rd round last year and is exactly the type of linebacker that seems to be successful in the modern NFL. He has the speed, cover skills, and playmaking ability to stick on the field in all situations and could be the eventual replacement for Alonso.

Backup LBs: Mike Hull has been a backup for several years but has yet to really show much when given a chance to play more than special teams. Chase Allen also remains unproven but figures to serve as the top backup outside. Jayrone Elliott led the now-defunct AAF with 7.5 sacks in 8 games and adds depth as a pass rusher, but he also hasn't played in the NFL since 2016.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Xavien Howard, SS Reshad Jones, FS Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB Eric Rowe
Backups: S T.J. McDonald, S Walt Aikens, CB Cordrea Tankersley, CB Torry McTyer

Starting DBs: Xavien Howard emerged as a potential star last year with 7 interceptions. He's a capable shutdown corner who can handle himself against top matchups but his fantasy value is limited by his low tackle production. Reshad Jones saw a huge drop in his tackle numbers last year and now has to adapt to a new defense and coaching staff. While he has been an elite fantasy safety for most of the decade, he could be slowing down now that he's on the wrong side of 30. Minkah Fitzpatrick was taken 11th overall last year and should continue to develop into an excellent cover safety. He does a lot of things well and will likely serve as the team's primary nickel cornerback. Eric Rowe comes over with Brian Flores from the Patriots but will likely find things more difficult in Miami given the huge dropoff in surrounding talent.

Backup DBs: T.J. McDonald can be considered a 5th starter as the Dolphins will likely use three safeties the majority of the time. Walt Aikens is most valuable due to his special teams contributions. Cordrea Tankersley should compete with Eric Rowe for the starting job opposite Howard but he's mostly been a disappointment in his 2-year career thus far. Torry McTyer adds some additional depth but is little more than a replacement-level player.

Last modified: 2019-05-24 15:25:45