As per last year, I’ll be sharing projections for every team in the NFL. I use past production in specific roles for each team’s scheme to work out realistic production profiles. You can see how accurate I was in 2018 in my IDP Projection Marking series.
The Dolphins decided to fire Adam Gase after another year of nothing much in 2018 and hired Brian Flores away from the Patriots. Flores was only the defensive coordinator for a single season and he certainly could take the Dolphins’ D in a different direction but it’s sensible to assume a similar scheme for now – at least until we see more.
It seems like the Dolphins have a lot to do to become competitive and although Flores brings hope, the problem seems to be the front office and not really the coaches.
The biggest single acquisition on the defensive side was drafting Christian Wilkins early in the first round. He’s a premier talent and should instantly become the best player on this front. He’s a versatile tackle which fits with the Patriots’ scheme. Expect him to rack up solid tackle numbers as well as being a contributor as a pass rusher.
Behind him, there’s an array of fairly average players. Davon Godchaux has flashed but is not a reliable IDP. Akeem Spence failed to capitalise on a good opportunity in 2018 and Vincent Taylor has never quite got it together. A nod also to Kendrick Norton who suffered a nasty injury in a car accident that ended his football career.
Ugh. This is really ugly. With these players on the roster, it seems very likely that the Dolphins will struggle to create much pressure at all this year. Charles Harris has been extremely underwhelming in his career so far after being a first-round draft pick whilst the others would be bottom-of-the-roster options for most the teams. Harris is top of the options more through a process of elimination than any belief in him. You don’t want to be relying on any of these options.
The Dolphins do actually have some talent here but there are flaws. Raekwon McMillan needs to show he can play effectively in coverage. Kiko Alonso needs to prove he’s not a rank bad player (who albeit records high tackle numbers). And Jerome Baker needs to prove he can step into more than a part-time, specialist role.
One of those three (at least) is not going to be a full-time player and at this stage, it could be any of them.
Positional uncertainty is a factor here. Minkah Fitzpatrick has been reclassified as a safety on MyFantasyLeague – even though he’s likely to play in the slot again as his primary position and he played as many games at outside corner as he did safety in 2018. He’s an impact player but his role doesn’t really offer him much possibility of being an IDP hero.
Aside from him, Xavien Howard is the top corner (given his enormous new contract) and his tendency towards hit or miss play makes him an intriguing option.
Bobby McCain allegedly has actually been playing safety through OTAs but will likely play almost exclusively deep, meaning he’s a poor investment for your roster.
If McCain does play safety there’s an opening for an outside corner to play but there’s not much route to IDP relevance for whoever wins that job.
Reshad Jones has had a tumultuous off-season, to say the least, as the Dolphins have been trying to trade him and his huge contract away with no takers. Even with McCain playing safety, he should still be one of the starters. But expecting production like he managed in his glory days is not very realistic.
TJ McDonald is also a useful player in deep leagues but not likely to start in most normal-sized leagues.
Stud – Christian Wilkins
Wilkins looks to be a top talent and has a chance to be an excellent IDP. You do need to be smart though. If your league rewards tackles who are pure pass rushers, Wilkins probably isn’t your guy. If scoring is broader, he could be really good.
Disappointment – Minkah Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick is a really good talent. It’s just that it’s hard to be an impact IDP from the slot. It can happen (Tyrann Mathieu, Budda Baker, Desmond King) but Minkah did not show many signs of being a high-tackle-volume payer as a rookie. Hopefully anyone reading this is too smart to have invested relatively early in him in rookie drafts a year ago but if you do own a share or two, exploring the market would be a good idea.
Darkhorse – Jerome Baker
As we know, for LBs, coverage snaps are more important than run snaps. And Baker is the best Dolphins LB in the passing game already. He’s by no means guaranteed a full-time role but if he does win one, he could become very productive.
It would be nice in a year’s time to be writing a glowing Dolphins preview full of optimism and excitement. Unfortunately, it’s just not really feasible to do that right now as the defensive roster looks uneven at best. And the lack of pass-rush talent is extremely worrying.
Thanks for reading.
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