Faceoff: Brandon Marshall
Jeff Tefertiller: There are not many flaws in Brandon Marshall's game. He is a big, physical receiver and able to make plays after the catch. Many are worried about his trade to the Miami Dolphins. But, the new Denver Bronco offense was limiting Marshall's upside so the change in scenery could be a great thing. His yards per reception average dropped by more than one full yard in Josh McDaniels' scheme ... and Kyle Orton under center. In Miami, Marshall will get a big upgrade in quarterback with the up-and-coming Chad Henne.
Marshall has three straight 100-catch seasons. The streak may be in jeopardy in Miami, but the yardage and touchdown numbers should translate. Marshall has plenty of upside. He has topped 1,300 in a season and scored double-digit touchdowns once while in Denver. In Miami, he has a chance to do both in the same year as the focal point of the Dolphin passing game.
Marshall has an ADP of WR8, player 21 overall. He makes a great fantasy WR1 for the owners who selected a stud running back in the first round. Most of the top fantasy pass catchers have negative changes in situation while Marshall's improves. Many assume that Denver is a passing team while Miami is a running club. But, this is simply not true. The two teams threw the ball almost the same number of times. The Broncos attempted 558 passes last year while the Dolphins' quarterbacks threw 538 passes. We are talking about an average of just one pass attempt per game difference. Miami wants a better passing attack and they now have it with Henne and Marshall.
The move to South Beach could improve his numbers with the strong running game to take the focus off the big play-making wide receiver. Henne's big arm will be a good match for Marshall. He is consistent, with only one game fewer than three receptions over the past three seasons. That is saying a lot. Marshall is able to make plays almost every game. This should be the same in Miami as the only play-making receiver on the club. Henne will force the ball to his big pass catcher.
The Broncos had plenty of options for Orton to target last season. The Dolphins will only have Marshall. He will continue to see a large number of targets. But, this time he has a strong-armed quarterback. The run attack of Miami will set up plenty of play-action opportunities for the Henne-to-Marshall connection. The ex-Bronco should be able to pick up where he left off in Denver.
Andy Hicks: Brandon Marshall has a current 2010 draft slot of WR8 and 21st overall. This is difficult to justify. How will he handle the move to Miami? How will he deal with an inexperienced QB in Chad Henne, especially considering Marshalls hip injury? How will he handle the domination of the run? How about his relationships with head coaches?
Despite all his troubles Marshall has registered 100 plus catches in each of the last 3 seasons and at times looked unstoppable. Even then his best fantasy ranking was 9th and now he is not only expected to match those performances, but exceed them? People have to be realistic here. He was no longer wanted in Denver and Miami have to adjust their offense accordingly to deal with his talents. That will not occur quickly and perhaps not at all this season. Very few new acquisitions, especially at receiver perform at their previous level straight away.
Sure Chad Henne has the potential to be a very good quarterback, but his interceptions exceeded touchdowns last season and with less than 1 touchdown a game he has to be considered a work in progress. It was therefore crucial that he develop an immediate relationship with Marshall to have an impact this season. Unfortunately Marshall's hip surgery and subsequent recovery has delayed any significant work between the two and they will start their working relationship far too close to the start of the season.
Another concern when analyzing the prospects of Brandon Marshall this year is the tendency of Miami to run the ball. Only 51% of their plays went through the passing game last season, whereas in Denver Marshall they threw the ball 56% of the time last year and 61% of the time in 2008. With Miami languishing 27th in passing TD's last year for Marshall to be any value that will have to improve rapidly this season. Do the Dolphins have a receiver capable of taking some attention off Marshall? With 6 touchdowns between the wide receivers last season and the most prolific receiver Davone Bess registering less than 10 yards a catch they have to do better. Brian Hartline looks to be the favorite to start opposite Marshall, but he is raw and will face competition for targets from Bess and Greg Camarillo.
Worst of all when considering drafting Brandon Marshall is his tendency to butt heads with head coaches and the potential of further suspensions from the NFL for off field incidents. Domestic disputes, DUI's, other motoring offenses and violent incidents have marred his NFL career to date. Marshall needs to keep his act together to avoid further suspension. With both Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels having to discipline Marshall during their relationships and the threats to trade Marshall finally occurring this off season it will be interesting to see how Marshall handles Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells in Miami. Until he proves he can play to the level of his ADP and have productive relationships with his coaching staff, he is best avoided.