As training camp inches closer and closer, teams begin to turn their attention to the upcoming NFL season. Though we keep a watchful eye on their progress throughout the summer months, many fans begin to turn their attention towards fantasy football.
Here are the five Miami Dolphins, most likely to make a fantasy impact in 2016.
Note: All projections are nothing more than guesstimates and should NOT be taken seriously.
The Dolphins felt Ryan Tannehill was worth a contract extension back in 2015, confirming that owner Stephen Ross and VP Mike Tannenbaum believe Tannehill is there guy. In fact, the Dolphins brought in offense wizard Adam Gase, to help the young quarterback take the next step in his NFL career. Miami’s front office believes in their fifth-year quarterback, as they should. Under Gase, Tannehill will have the ability to run the offense in its entirety. Gone are the days where he would be handcuffed at the line of scrimmage, unable to make changes as needed. Alongside coach Gase, Tannehill should continue to improve, becoming closer to the "elite" quarterback we so desperately need.
In 2015, Ryan Tannehill threw for 4,208 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Not quite the leap coaches and fans had hoped for after an impressive 2014 season, but he continued to improve on his previous numbers. All this, despite everything that went wrong with the team last season. Miami spent much of the 2016 offseason improving the pieces around Tannehill. The offensive line has been improved, and playmakers have been added all around. Tannehill’s supporting cast is enough to make any offensive coordinator salivate and should help improve a lackluster Dolphins’ offense.
Tannehill has always been more effective as a short to intermediate passer, but in 2015 we saw a significant improvement with his deep ball. However, Tannehill must continue to see the field better and allow routes to develop more efficiently. Way too often, Tannehill will check down before routes ever develop. Some of this can be credited to his poor offensive line play, which has allowed him to be sacked a total of 184 times throughout his four-year career. We should see a great deal of improvement in Tannehill this season.
It is safe to say, 2016 is the most important season of Ryan Tannehill’s career.
Projection: 4,465 yards, 33 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
In most fantasy leagues, players covet running backs more than any other position. And with training camp on the horizon, there is still time for another running back to emerge as the Dolphins starter. However, as of now, all signs point to Jay Ajayi being the workhorse in Adam Gase’s offense. Though it is worth noting that Gase plans to use all three running backs throughout the course of a game. This will make things more difficult for fantasy owners that covet one of the Dolphins three-headed monster.
Ajayi missed the first half of the 2015 season, after suffering a rib injury against the Buccaneers in the final week of preseason. Once activated, Ajayi looked the part of an NFL playmaker. He looked quick, and showed a willingness to fight for additional yardage, rarely being stopped by the first defender. On 49 carries, Ajayi rushed for 187 yards and a touchdown. Though these are not jaw-dropping numbers, he showed enough to warrant trust from the new coaching staff.
History has shown Gase likes to run the football, in ways former coaches did not. He also managed to get the most out of his players. During his time with Denver, Knowshon Moreno had his best season under Adam Gase. He rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013, carrying the ball a total of 241 times. Last year with the Bears, Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford combined for 366 carries. For comparison sake, Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi rushed for 243 carries together, 123 less attempts than the Bears’ duo. Coach Gase is committed to running the football, and Jay Ajayi should flourish with an expanded role.
Projection: 1,078 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns
Earlier this week, the Dolphins signed Arian Foster to a team friendly 1 year, $1.5 million-dollar deal. The former Pro Bowl running back was once one of the NFL’s best, prior to suffering several season-ending injuries. Adding a veteran presence to a group of young, inexperienced running backs is a good thing for the team. When healthy, Foster can do it all and has proved this in the past. However, he has only finished a full 16-game season twice in his seven-year career.
At this point in his career, Foster is better suited as a third-down running back, though it is rare for Gase to sub his running backs mid drive. And although it seems that Jay Ajayi is the likely starter heading into camp, Foster will be given every opportunity to compete. He holds a clear advantage in regards to pass blocking and receiving, all of which are key attributes Gase looks for in a starting running back.
It is anyone’s guess as to how Foster may recover from his Achilles injury. If healthy, Miami will be thankful they took a chance on the veteran running back. So will fantasy owners who choose to do the same.
Projection: 643 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns
Over the last several weeks, Jarvis Landry has been a hot topic throughout twitter and other media outlets. Some overrate the third-year wide receiver, referring to him as one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers. Others underrate Landry, calling him an "average" or "below average" wide receiver. For me, Landry ranks somewhere between No. 25-35, making him a very good wide receiver, regardless of what the "experts" say. His skill-set is better suited as an inside receiver, something he has been unable to do, considering he’s been the Dolphins’ No.1 wide receiver. With a healthy DeVante Parker and rookie wide receiver Leonte Carroo earning snaps, Landry can become the elite slot receiver many believe he can be.
In 2015, Landry caught 110 passes for 1,157 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was Ryan Tannehill’s most desired target. He was also Miami’s most dependable receiver, converting a vast majority of the Dolphins third-down conversions. Landry uses his deceptive 4.7 speed to shake off defenders, while running crisp, precise routes. This deems Jarvis Landry a perfect fit for Adam Gase’s style of offense.
Despite adding several new weapons on offense, I don’t foresee a significant drop in Landry’s fantasy value. Given the chemistry he and Ryan Tannehill share, Landry is sure to be the Dolphins #1 target in 2016.
Projection: 1,239 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
Throughout the first nine weeks of his rookie season, Parker had a minimal impact after suffering a foot injury that would stymie the wide receiver’s NFL debut. The former Louisville standout was drafted to give Tannehill another option opposite of Jarvis Landry, and although it was a small sample size, Parker looked the part of a true No.1 wide receiver.
Though he only started four games in 2015, Parker played a significant role when given the opportunity. Parker utilized his rare skill-set, possessing elite height (6-3) and speed (4.45). He must continue to get better at route running, but should have an expanded role in an offense that will feature the young receiver’s talents. When healthy, Parker can hang against some of the league’s best wide receivers.
2016 should be a breakout year for the second-year wide receiver, and he should see plenty of opportunities in Gase’s offense. Parker has the skill-set and the physical makeup to be a No.1 wide receiver in the NFL. I expect Parker to be used in a similar way as Bronco’s wide receiver, Demaryius Thomas. The sky is the limit for DVP in 2016.
Projection: 789 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns
There is no doubt Kenyan Drake will have a role in Miami’s high-octane offense, the question remains how big will that role be. In my opinion, Drake is a younger, less polished version of Arian Foster. He has a similar build and makeup as the newly acquired running back, and should learn a lot from the veteran. With that said, Drake might be the most explosive running back on the roster and should get opportunities early and often. Don’t sleep on Kenyan Drake.
Projection: 375 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns
Quite possibly my favorite 2016 draft pick, Leonte Carroo is going to be a very good wide receiver in the NFL. Carroo scored 29 touchdowns in 30 games at Rutgers and the Dolphins hope that success can translate to the NFL. Heading into camp, Carroo is fourth on the depth chart, but things could change fast if he impresses during the summer months. He can do it all, and proved that time and time again in college. Though it is uncertain where he will start the season on the team’s depth chart, Leonte Carroo is going to be a playmaker in the NFL for years to come.
Projection: 567 yards, 3 touchdowns
Last season, I expected Jordan Cameron to have a significant impact in the Dolphins offense. Unfortunately, I was wrong. In 2015, Miami asked him to block more, in hopes of keeping Tannehill upright. Fortunately for Cameron, new head coach Adam Gase utilizes his tight ends differently and should have a big role in the offense moving forward. Cameron has proven in the past he can be a legit seam threat, and do all the little things when needed. I expect a breakout year from the tight end in Gase’s offense.
Projection: 638 yards, 6 touchdowns