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Dynasty Capsule: Miami Dolphins

As part of the premium content package, we’re unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL all spring and summer. This year, we also have a precursor to every team capsule, with more detail on one of our favorite pieces – the dynasty sleeper. We continue our alphabetical journey through the NFL with the Miami Dolphins.

Quarterbacks

David Garrard

The Dolphins’ quarterback situation post-Dan Marino has been nothing short of a mess.  A hodgepodge of mediocrity with their offense being run by the likes of Chad Pennington, AJ Feeley, and Jay Fiedler. As a short-term stopgap solution while their 2012 first round pick and future franchise quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, learns the NFL game, the Dolphins added Garrard to their mediocre quarterback list.

Garrard will compete with Matt Moore for the 2012 starting job. While the battle will continue through training camp, all indications from OTAs are that Garrard has taken the lead. It appears that Garrard should begin the year as starter unless he botches it in the preseason.

At the age of 33, Garrard is coming off of back surgery from late 2011. Prior to the surgery and before week one of the 2011 season, he was released by the Jaguars due to major preseason struggles.

Garrard is, at-best, a one-year starter who’s aging, average, and an injury risk. Not only that, but he would also assume a starting position with limited weapons at receiver with guys like Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Chad Ochocinco, and a handful of rookies in the mix – that’s not exactly the making of a stellar fantasy quarterback. Garrard is not worth a pickup in the short-term unless you foresee a need for a bye week filler in 2012. He’ll be lucky to make it through the season as a full time starter with Moore and potentially Tannehill in the mix.

Matt Moore

As noted, Moore will battle Garrard for the 2012 starting position. Like Garrard, he will hold little value should he win the starting job. Quietly in 2011, Moore finished the year with over 2,500 yards passing and 16 touchdowns in 13 games – that was good enough to be the QB21 in fantasy rankings. Interestingly enough, his quarterback rating was also 87%, which ranked twelfth in the league.

If Moore unexpectedly wins the starting spot in 2012, he’ll be a decent second fantasy quarterback and bye week filler. However, he’s a 2013 free agent and will only be 28 at the start of the season, so if he wins the Dolphins job and plays well in 2012, it’s possible he sticks somewhere next year as a starter and possesses dynasty value going forward.

Right now, neither Garrard nor Moore is worth a pickup, but the situation should be monitored in deeper leagues. If Moore wins the job, he may hold some short and long-term value given his previous fantasy success.

Ryan Tannehill

After a decade plus of quarterback disasters, the Dolphins finally drafted a franchise quarterback as they chose Tannehill with the eighth pick in the 2012 NFL draft. With that pick comes enormous pressure as the first quarterback the Dolphins have drafted in the first round since Marino.

Tannehill is clearly the long-term answer in Miami. However, current reports suggest that he will be groomed as a backup in 2012 since he only played 20 games at quarterback with Texas A&M. He’s a smart guy with a strong arm, but he’s inexperienced with that limited time at the position in college.

As a dynasty owner, patience will be key with Tannehill as he’s unlikely to see the field much in 2012. That may be a good thing considering the ever-present Marino pressure. Tannehill is a solid second or third quarterback in dynasty leagues and should be targeted in the mid-second round of rookie drafts.

Running Backs

Reggie Bush

Finally!

After much ado, Reggie Bush put up the type of season we were all waiting for. In his sixth NFL campaign, he finished the year with over 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career. After posting 1,086 yards rushing along with 43 receptions for 296 yards and seven total touchdowns in 2011, he ranked as the RB13 in PPR leagues. From week eight on, he was the sixth best running back in PPR leagues behind players who rank in the top ten among dynasty running backs such as Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, and, Ray Rice.

Most impressively, in all four of his final games in 2011, Bush eclipsed the 100-yard mark and carried the ball 20 plus times in three of the four games – that four game stretch was also the first time he hit 20 carries all season.

The big question heading in to 2012 is if former head coach Tony Sparano’s departure will have any impact on Reggie’s production and role in the offense. Not only that, but Bush just turned 27 years old in March and is approaching the dreadful running back age of 30 where production declines. He isn’t exactly the durable running back poster child either, which is always cause for concern with him. That, along with the uncertainty of how Daniel Thomas and the addition of Lamar Miller impacts Bush’s role casts a question mark over his short and long-term fantasy value.

Ultimately, Bush is a capable second running back for dynasty purposes as the most experienced back on the 2012 Dolphins’ roster. Just be wary of his injury history; 2011 was his first season he started more than ten games in a year.

Daniel Thomas

After being drafted in as a top eight pick in most 2011 rookie drafts, Thomas struggled through injuries in his rookie season and posted a paltry 3.5 yards per carry on his way to 581 yards rushing and 12 receptions for 72 yards – that’s not exactly the rookie year most were predicting for Thomas when he stepped into a perfect situation after being taken in the second round of last year’s NFL draft.

Thomas blames his knee and hamstring injuries for the disappointing year. He claims the injuries impacted his confidence. He’s since added seven pounds this off season in hopes of remedying that. However, the Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin recently noted that Thomas needs to improve his pass protection – that does not bode well for increased opportunities in 2012 and needs to be monitored through training camp and the preseason.

After a disappointing rookie season, Thomas is often ranked and drafted around the 40th running back. That makes him a decent target, especially if you believe injuries contributed to his lackluster rookie season. You could do worse with your fourth running back. He’s a guy to keep an eye on or hold and see.

Lamar Miller

Many expected the Dolphins’ 2012 fourth round pick to be selected in the second round of the NFL draft. However, Miller’s draft stock fell due to medical red flags related to his surgically repaired shoulders and knees. Despite the medical concerns, the Dolphins traded up in the fourth round of the draft in April to select him due to his explosiveness. After all, he was the fastest timed running back at the combine in 2012.

Reggie Bush is slated to be a free agent after the 2012 season, so it may take a year before Miller gets a shot. He is an interesting case since the medical history is a concern, but many had him pegged as a top six rookie pick in dynasty leagues pre-draft. The fourth round selection now has him being selected in rookie drafts anywhere from the late first to the mid-second round.

Reports out of OTAs note that Miller “showed explosive change-of-direction ability.” His blend of speed and power also have many comparing him to Clinton Portis. Given Reggie Bush’s injury history, it’s good bet that Miller will see more snaps that initially expected at some point in 2012. As a result and like Thomas, Miller makes a solid fourth or fifth running back given the long-term potential and opportunity.

Jerome Messam

The Dolphins signed the 27 year-old 6’3”, 245-pound running back out of the Canadian Football League in February. He recently had surgery to repair a torn meniscus, which will set him back and make a 2012 roster spot a challenge. It’s the second surgery on the same knee within six months. The big bruiser is coming off of a 1,000 yard plus season in the CFL. He’s not worth a pick-up at this juncture.

Jonas Gray

The undrafted free agent from Notre Dame is coming off of a senior season where he missed the final two games due to a torn ACL. He still needs to rehab physically from the injury to get back to one hundred percent, which makes him a perfect candidate for the Dolphins practice squad.

Wide Receivers

Brian Hartline

Hartline has not played a season where he received more than 70 targets, but it looks like he’ll enter 2012 as the de facto number one receiver. Hartline hasn’t been terribly relevant in recent years, but his best statistical year was 2010 where he had 43 receptions for 615 yards in 12 games (started 11). Given the number started games, 2010 is probably the best indication of what we can expect for Hartline in the short-term and through a full season.

Our very own Jarrett Behar recently took an in-depth look at Hartline and argued that he can be a solid contributor as a third wide receiver or bye week filler – that appears to be Hartline’s ceiling.

Davone Bess

Many expected Bess to be the second coming of Wes Welker after two seasons of 75 plus catches and over 750 yards receiving in 2009 and 2010. In each of those two seasons, he was also targeted over 100 times. While many thought the addition of Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins in 2011 would help him get there and open up the underneath routes for Bess, things didn’t work out that way. He finished 2011 with 51 receptions for 537 yards in what was considered a disappointment by many.  With the departure of Marshall this off season, Bess is likely return to the starting lineup in 2012.

Bess is a reliable receiver on third downs who keeps the chains moving and, as a result, has the potential to be a very valuable PPR commodity. With no dominant target on the Dolphins, 2012 has the potential to be very similar to his 2010 and 2009 seasons. With an average draft position of WR67 in dynasty start up drafts, he was almost the Dolphins’ sleeper selection as a value target. He has WR3 upside.

 

Chad Ochocinco

If only it were 2007, the Dolphins would have a legitimate number one receiver.

Unfortunately, at the age of 34, Ochocinco is well past his prime and struggling to be relevant. After a disaster of a season in New England in 2011 where he played a meager 29% of the teams snaps tallying 276 yards receiving, Chad may be ready to take his personality related career full-time. You have to wonder if the signing was a PR stunt by the Dolphins for Hard Knocks. He certainly has the personality for the cameras, but he is undisciplined on the field. He’s worth a flier, but to expect a career rebound is a mistake.

Roberto Wallace

David Garrard is a fan of the 26 year-old undrafted free agent. Following OTAs, he said that the 6’4” 225 pound receiver is “going to be a pretty good receiver in this league.” With no other big receiver standing out, Wallace stood out in off season activities in 2012. He is worth monitoring through training camp, as a result, and is worth a preemptive pick up in deeper leagues.

Legedu Naanee

Naanee has always had the size at 6’2” and 220 pounds, but he hasn’t put together an NFL or fantasy relevant season in his five year career. He spent four years in San Diego and one year in Carolina. His 2011 season in Carolina was a career year with 44 receptions for 467 yards. Despite the career year, he has yet to prove himself after five years in the NFL. Naanee is unlikely to have relevant fantasy impact in 2012 or the future.

Clyde Gates

When he was drafted out of Abilene Christian in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft, many believed Gates would ultimately be competing for a starting receiver spot ahead of Hartline and Bess. Unfortunately, reports are that Gates is struggling to pick up Coach Joe Philbin’s new offense and his roster spot is in question.

BJ Cunningham

Cunningham was drafted by the Dolphins in the sixth round of the 2012 draft out of Michigan State. He is a big receiver who runs solid routes and was productive as a Spartan, posting 79 receptions for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns. He slipped in April’s draft due to a slow forty time (4.59) at the NFL Combine.

Reports out of OTAs were that he struggled initially, but finished playing at a high level. With little settled in the Dolphins receiving corps, he has an opportunity to emerge with a strong training camp.

Tight Ends

Anthony Fasano

Fasano is a great blocking tight-end, but reports are that he may be the odd man out in Coach Philbin’s new offense. Philbin’s offense is focused on yards after the catch and Fasano doesn’t excel in that area. Specifically, in 2011 Fasano amassed 99 yards after the catch which ranked him as the TE37.

Ultimately, Fasano is not worth wasting a roster spot given the offensive scheme change, the Dolphins’ selection of Michael Egnew in the 2012 draft, and the buzz building around Charles Clay. The 2012 fantasy outlook for Fasano is murky.

Charles Clay

We focused on Clay in our sleeper spotlight.

Michael Egnew

Egnew is the antithesis of Fasano. He’s a fantastic pass catcher with after the catch ability, but he can’t block a lick.

The Dolphins selected Egnew out of Missouri in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft. If he doesn’t already, Coach Philbin will love his natural pass catching ability and the match-up problems he’ll create. Egnew also has experience splitting out wide from his time at Missouri and if Philbin’s time in Green Bay is any indication, the Dolphins’ tight end is going to be split out wide quite frequently.

Egnew is worth a stash in deeper leagues as a long-term play as it does not appear likely that he will see meaningful playing time in 2012.

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