Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the regular season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
Have you ever been to a kid’s first birthday party? What usually happens is mom and dad strap them into their highchair, slap a comically oversized piece of cake on the tray, maybe add in some ice cream, then sit back and watch the mayhem. For six months afterwards, Junior’s parents will find chocolate and frosting in various crevices, under the counter, on the top of the fridge, and everywhere else within 20 feet of the kid/Tasmanian Devil.
If you took this scenario, multiplied it times 20, put it in a wind tunnel, and added 300 gallons of Nickelodeon’s green slime, it wouldn’t be half as messy as the 2015 Miami Dolphins.
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After three straight seasons of statistical progression from the former college wide receiver, Miami did all they could to surround Tannehill with pass catching talent. They added a pass catching tight end (Jordan Cameron), a reliable veteran at WR (Greg Jennings), a dynamic downfield threat (Kenny Stills), a talented young RB (Jay Ajayi), and a first round wide receiver (DeVante Parker). It didn’t work.
From a pure fantasy perspective, we saw Tannehill’s production slip from 17.5 PPG in 2014 to 16.3 this year. While 1.2 points isn’t insignificant, it isn’t as bad as many would have guessed, either. Nearly the entire difference can be traced to rushing yards, as the fourth year QB tallied 176 fewer this season than last. With rushing yards from a non-rushing QB being hard to predict, I’d call the last two seasons an overall wash when it comes to productivity.
The problem is, we don’t want status quo from an up-and-coming player with a big contract and the most talented roster he’s ever seen. We want progression, and we didn’t get it.
Luckily for Tannehill’s future outlook, his lack of advancement wasn’t the only issue. Coaching was abhorrent, especially on the play calling front. Miami’s abject refusal to use perhaps their best offensive player, Lamar Miller, put undue pressure on Tannehill, who was a wide receiver in college. The lack of consistent play from the beleaguered defense didn’t help either. But there is hope on the horizon.
As we will discuss in a moment, Parker really came on strong as the year closed out. The same can be said for Ajayi. Add in competent new coach/play caller Adam Gase and there is plenty of reason for optimism.
Currently Tannehill, a wide receiver as a redshirt freshman at Arkansas, is ranked in the middle of my very messy third QB tier that encompasses QBs 11-19. If the offense comes together in 2016, as I think it can, the former college WR (people forget that) could sneak his way back into my top-15. If not, it’s probably time to write him off as a Jay Cutler type who will never reach his potential.
Moore, who is an unrestricted free agent (UFA), is a serviceable backup and nothing more. As he’s shown in previous seasons, even when given playing time, there is little fantasy relevance to be found.
Some people may try and tell you Thomas is interesting. He isn’t. The super raw 24-year-old is a project in the same vein as Humpty Dumpty had he fallen off the Empire State Building instead of a six foot wall. Even in deep 2QB leagues, there is nothing to see here.
At 14.6 PPR PPG, this was Miller’s best fantasy season. It was also bitterly disappointing. Long on talent (even if his open field vision makes you stop the tape to see if he is wearing horse blinders), the highly explosive back just can’t seem to convince his coaches he is worthy consistent touches. Never has that been more apparent than it was in a season where he logged 10 or fewer carries seven times.
We could forgive the Fins if Miller hadn’t been so productive, hanging 4.5 YPC, 10 scores, 47 receptions and .971 fantasy points per touch, second among all running backs with 200 or more touches. But he was, so we won’t, and considering they are all now on the unemployment line, we don’t have to.
Predicting 2016 is tough, as Miller is a UFA. My best guess is Miami lets him walk, using the cash to bolster their roster elsewhere, but I’m just some dude in pajamas eating Skittles. If Miller does return, we can expect to see a usage similar to what Gase did with Matt Forte last season. In the instance my guess is right, all we can do is hope Miller lands somewhere he can be the guy (Dallas sounds awesome).
With seven missed games and 187 yards on 49 carries to go with only one touchdown, it would be easy to call Ajayi’s rookie season disappointing. It would also be a mistake. When you fire up tape on the youngster, it is impossible to walk away without being impressed.
The rookie took what we saw at Boise State and translated it very well to the pros. He shows good vision and burst, with enough speed to get to the edge on sweeps and tosses. Ajayi isn’t afraid to cut it back inside and is a handful at the second level, often making an isolated linebacker or safety look silly via a spin move or quick cut. He also runs to contact when called for, showing enough power to push the pile. There really isn’t much bad to say.
BUT HIS KNEE THOUGH
Eh, whatever. The percent of running backs who maintain fantasy relevance six years into their careers is so short, I can’t be bothered to worry about his knee issue. I’m buying, full of hope that Miller walks.
Williams is an interesting guy. He has the size (5’11”, 225 lbs) and speed (4.45 40) to have an impact in the NFL, but thus far the results have been mixed. After totaling only sixteen carries for 59 yards (3.7 YPC) to go with 21 receptions for another 142 yards in his second season, it’s hard to make a case for Williams as anything more than a career backup.
The biggest hangups here are poor vision and too much dallying around in the backfield. If the second year player out of Oklahoma can overcome these issues, or lands as the primary backup to Ajayi next year (assuming Miller is gone), his physical talent makes him a worthy flier.
Landry surprised nearly everyone by finishing as the PPR WR11, posting a positively Julian Edelman-like 111 receptions for 1159 yards on the sixth most targets (167) in the league. He surprised nearly nobody by only scoring five times, one of which came on the ground.
While Landry’s talent is unfairly questioned (his work in the open field as a punt returner shows he is more explosive than most think), it is fair to question the relative lack of scoring when you look at how many passes come his way. So I did.
According to Pro Football Reference, Landry saw 22 targets inside the 20 this season, ranking him fifth among all players. He caught 11 of those, giving him a catch percentage that ranks competitively among other players with a similar number of opportunities. Where the problem starts is in looking at the percentage of those targets that resulted in a touchdown.
Among the 32 players who tallied 15 or more red zone looks, Landry ranked 31st in TD percentage (TDs divided by targets). A deeper look reveals what is undoubtedly a major part of the issue: Of the bottom five players on this list, four were catching passes from the likes of Peyton Manning/Brock Osweiler, Jay Cutler, Colin Kaepernick/Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Tannehill. Even more telling, no Dolphins receiving option with more than two targets in the red zone had a TD% of more than 25.
It took longer than the impatient among us would have liked, but the rookie first rounder came on very strong the last two months of the season. Following a nine week break due to a foot injury, Parker came back to post a 59/1187/8 pace over the season’s final six games. Sure, his efficiency wasn’t the best (22 catches on 42 targets over that span), but much of that has to do with his deployment, something his 20+ yards per reception would back up.
Does Parker still need a bit of work? That is definitely the case, especially in the route running department. It isn’t that he can’t run a good route, it is more a problem of play-to-play inconsistency. This is a very common knock on rookie receivers, with many of them working their way through it eventually. If Parker does, the sky is the limit.
The dynamic rookie is already among my top-30 WRs. If he continues to look good next fall, that ranking will rocket straight up.
Matthews had himself a mighty fine season for a player who started the year as unrosterable in even the deepest of dynasty leagues. With 43 catches, the fourth year wide receiver had a nice 11 game run going until he suffered multiple rib fractures in late November. Unfortunately, the injury opened the door for Parker to break out, likely signaling either the end of Matthews’ time in Miami (he is a UFA) or to his re-signing as the fourth WR. Even if this hadn’t happened, his time as a fantasy relevant player was short, as he is nothing more than a replacement level player who was destined to be overtook anyway.
This is one I can’t figure out. One of the most explosive and efficient players in the NFL the last two seasons in New Orleans, Stills was barely even an afterthought in the Dolphins’ offense. When he was acquired for the overpaid Dannell Ellerbe and a third round pick, I would never have imagined his role would be so marginalized, but such is life in the land of the Fins.
Seeing only 62 targets, Stills reeled in 44% of them for a total of 27 catches, 440 yards and three touchdowns. Considering his 71% career catch rate, I’d call that pretty disappointing. The downgrade from Drew Brees to Tannehill is largely responsible for the issues, but the lack of opportunity wasn’t much help either.
Stills proved in 2014 he could run more than just the nine, yet he was rarely asked to this year. Here is to hoping Gase recognizes this and better utilizes the underrated young receiver.
Brought in to give the receiving corps a steady, veteran presence, Jennings continued to show he hasn’t aged well. With a 19/208/1 line, it’s hard to imagine the former Packer and Viking back in Miami, especially when you consider the Dolphins can save $4 million against the cap by cutting him.
Whether Jennings lands elsewhere or stays in south Florida makes no real difference to us, as his dynasty days are done.
For the second consecutive year after his breakout 2014, Cameron pulled a disappearing act, finishing as the TE27 in fantasy. His season was so awful that Jacob Tamme outscored him by nearly 40 points despite playing one less game and being bad at football.
Seeing only 70 targets wasn’t a boon to Cameron’s value, but neither was him catching only 35 of those. On the bright side, he scored once for every 12 or so catches, so that’s good. I’d be less worried about the letdown if it wasn’t for a similarly disappointing final season in Cleveland. At some point you have to wonder if it was 2013 that was the exception, and not the other four years of his career.
With Landry and Parker demanding most of the attention in the pass game going forward, it’s hard to imagine Cameron as anything more than a middling TE2. At this point all he can hope for is Miami to realize they overpaid him and cut him loose (they would save $7.5 million) so maybe he can get a fresh start elsewhere.
Cheap and somewhat proficient at blocking, Sims likely has a home in Miami for 2016, but I’m not sure that matters to fantasy owners. With only 48 career catches in three seasons (18 this year), Sims is nothing more than a bit player.
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