The Miami Dolphins lost another game against an NFC North opponent on a last minute touchdown pass. After seeing Aaron Rodgers do it to the team in Miami earlier this season, the Dolphins saw Matthew Stafford take the Detroit Lions down the field for the game winning score Sunday, beating Miami 20-16. At the end of the day, it was a good football game and an entertaining one to watch - but it hurt to be a Dolphins fan watching the game.
Last week's stock watch featured 10 stock up ratings, giving the 37-0 win over the San Diego Chargers from that weekend. This one is back to the standard three up-three down format, with some players deserving to be recognized for their performances on Sunday, and some players needing to be found.
Stock Up: Ja'Wuan James, offensive tackle - The rookie offensive tackle is going to be moving from the right side, a position he has played his entire football life, to left tackle as the replacement for the injured Branden Albert. There will likely be some growing pains, but the fact that James has been playing well this year on the right side and that the coaches trust him to take over the left side position clearly shows how good a player James is. He was considered a reach in the Draft, but James is demonstrating why the Dolphins wanted him.
Stock Down: Brian Hartline, wide receiver - One target. That's all Hartline got against the Lions in a game in which the team needed to move the ball. The offense has changed this year, but that does not mean Hartline's role should have disappeared. Jarvis Landry was targeted 10 times, Charles Clay nine time, Mike Wallace eight times, Damien Williams three times, and Brandon Gibson and Lamar Miller twice each. There were plenty of passes to at least get two targets to Hartline, but he's just not in the plays for some reason this year. With Wallace and Landry getting their fair share of the ball, it was probably too high a goal for a third straight 1,000-yard performance from Hartline this season, but there should be a lot of landing ground between 1,000-yard receiver and non-factor.
Stock Up: Damien Williams, running back - Williams got his opportunity to be a part of the offense early in this game, and he showed up. He's still an undrafted free agent rookie, so counting on him to be your feature back is a little worrisome, but in a game where Lamar Miller was only able to carry the ball four times, due in no small part to a shoulder injury that limited him in practice for much of the week, Williams was able to pick up some of the slack. He carried the ball seven times for 34 yards, giving him a 4.9 yards-per-carry average. A Williams wearing number 34 just looks right for the Dolphins, and Damien is trying to live up to the Ricky legacy of that jersey. He's not likely to be an 1,800 yard running back, but Damien looked good on Sunday.
Stock Down: Philip Wheeler, linebacker - At this point, the Dolphins have to be considering a change at weakside linebacker, right? I mean, Wheeler is clearly the weak link at linebacker for Miami, with Jelani Jenkins breaking out on the string side and Koa Misi showing he can be a good middle linebacker, Wheeler is dragging down the corps on the weakside. I will not hold the unnecessary roughness penalty against Wheeler, because he was trying to lead with his shoulder on a receiver who was going to the ground and got called for a helmet-to-helmet hit. There was not a lot else he could have done on that play, but when Jenkins leads the team with seven tackles, Misi is one back at six, then Wheeler drops all the way down to just one tackle, there's a big hole that needs to be filled on the Miami defense.
Stock Up: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback - It was not his best day, but Tannehill stood in there and fought on Sunday. He finished the day with a 27-for-38 for 207 yards, a touchdown and a pick, with three sacks. He had an 81.8 passer rating. Tannehill's play should have been enough for Miami to win this game. Add in the near touchdown pass to Charles Clay, and the Dolphins could have been in position to at least go to overtime, if not outright win the game. (On that, Clay did not drop that ball, it was a good pass breakup. You still want him to be able to make that catch, but it's not like he just let the ball fall on his own accord.) In comparison, Matthew Stafford was 25-for-40 for 280 yards with two touchdowns and a pick with three sacks and an 89.6 passer rating. Very even day between the two passers, and, giving all the pressure allowed early in the game, including nine quarterback hits, Tannehill's performance is worthy of a bump up in his stock rating.
Stock Down: Daniel Thomas, running back - In a game in which Lamar Miller was not able to play fully, Thomas had a chance to step up and show us that 30 Daniel Thomas really is better than 33 Daniel Thomas. Instead, he finished with five carries for just 14 yards. He also lost a fumble, though it really was more of a good play by Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who punched the ball out from behind than it was Thomas being careless with the ball. Where Damien Williams increased his stock during this game, Thomas hurt his.