The Miami Dolphins came from nowhere in 2009 to win the AFC East before succumbing to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs. The two main factors for the dramatic turnaround rest on the acquisition of quarterback Chad Pennington, who was released by the NY Jets after the team signed Brett Favre, and the rise of the Wildcat formation that turned out to take several teams. (ie New England) off guard. In terms of fantasy, though, the Dolphins don’t really have many players that fantasy owners feel comfortable starting week in and week out. Let’s break down Miami in terms of fantasy potential heading into 2009.
After building a foundation along the offensive and defensive lines in last year’s draft, the Dolphins added more skilled position players to the mix on day two of the 2009 NFL Draft. That was a good move because the Dolphins have very few playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Chad Pennington is back for another year, but Chad Henne appears to be the team’s future QB. Even Pennington in his heyday with the Jets was nothing more than a No. 2 QB or someone you can play with based on matchups.
So, needless to say, don’t be surprised if Pennington doesn’t get drafted in most 12-team leagues this summer. Obviously, Henne also has no fantasy value at this point. The only QB on Miami’s roster who might be worth taking a very late-round flyer is former WV QB Pat White whom the Dolphins drafted in the second round. I highly doubt White will play any quarterbacks this year and I’m assuming the Dolphins drafted him specifically for the Wildcat, which was so successful last year. This would be perfect for White and would be an improvement over Ronnie Brown in that capacity. White would represent the only Dolphin QB I could consider in the later rounds of my draft this summer.
Miami’s running game was pretty decent in 2009 when Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 1,575 rushes at 4.2 yards per carry. Therein lies the problem, albeit in terms of fantasy. If you read my “Draft Running Backs Early: Buyer Beware” column, this is exactly what I’m talking about. While it is advantageous to incorporate the RB by committee in the NFL, it represents a fantasy owners’ worst nightmare. Personally, I drafted 420 Ricky last year and, to be completely honest, I thought he would rush for 1,000-plus yards because I didn’t think Brown’s health would last all season, which would give Williams most of the carries. Needless to say, I was wrong mainly because Brown’s knee held up better than I thought. Don’t expect anything special from any of these guys in 2009, either. The committee will continue, and to make matters worse, at least half of Brown’s 10 rushing touchdowns have come in the Wildcat formation and, with White’s inclusion in the mix, Brown’s role in the Wildcat is expected to diminish. Treat Brown as a No. 3 RB or Flex starter and Williams as a backup worth a late-round pick in most leagues.
Miami’s receiving corps is worse than its running game in terms of fantasy potential. At this point, the only consistent receiving threat on the Dolphins falls to TE Anthony Fasano. 2008 saw Fasano catch 34 balls for 454 yards but 7 TDs. That’s an outstanding TD total for an NFL TE and Fasano clearly became the go-to guy for Pennington as the season progressed. I don’t think Fasano was a fluke and with Pennington returning for a second year, there’s no reason to think he can’t be good at 5-6 TDs this year. Consider Fasano a low-end No. 1 TE or, at worst, a great No. 2 TE.
Although, improving Ted Ginn Jr. hasn’t come close to living up to his potential. Also, Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo are nothing more than emergency middle slots and if you rely on either of them to consistently produce for you, your season is likely to end early. Miami recruited Patrick Turner from USC and Brian Hartline from The Ohio State University to help solidify the receiving corps. After the breakout campaign of 2008 and subsequent impressive Senior Bowl scouts, the Dolphins are very interested in Turner. At 6’5″, he gives the Dolphins a big target, something the team has been lacking. Look for both Turner and Hartline to make the team, but neither is guaranteed to be drafted this summer in leagues. with 12 or fewer teams.In bigger leagues, then maybe as a late-round midfielder, but not much more than that.As for Ginn and Camarillo, treat them both as late-round reserves until they start churning out points quality fantasy on a consistent basis.
Dan Carpenter converted on all 40 of his PAT attempts and went 21-25 in FG, making him a reliable fantasy option heading into 2009. Ginn makes the DST interesting, but he’s still not a unit in this point worth playing every week, especially considering they have 4 games against TO and Randy Moss. In short, with the exception of Carpenter and Fasano, I wouldn’t rush to draft too many Dolphins for your fantasy roster for next season. Next morning: The New York Jets.