Fantasy Depth Chart Review – Miami
Jeff Ratcliffe takes a look at the Dolphins projected depth chart and tells you what to expect for fantasy football purposes.
Fantasy Depth Chart Review – Miami
Miami was active in the offseason, revamping their wide receiver corps while also adding skill position players in the draft. The Dolphins also landed arguably the top free agent in this year’s class.
Today we’ll continue our look at the PFF projected depth charts with a look at the fantasy implications of the projected Dolphins depth chart. For links to all the other fantasy team previews CLICK HERE.
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The quarterback position is fairly straightforward with the ascending Ryan Tannehill locked in as the starter.The Dolphins also have Matt Moore and Josh Freeman on the roster, but Tannehill has been durable so far in his career and hasn’t missed a game.
Tannehill is gaining a lot of attention in fantasy circles following a 2014 season where he topped 4,000 yards passing and his accuracy jumped from 60.4 percent to 66.4 percent. On aimed passes not including batted balls, spikes, throwaways, or hits, Tannehill actually completed 71 percent. While he’s not Cam Newton, Tannehill has decent wheels and chipped in 311 yards on the ground. All told, his performance was good enough for the No. 8 spot among fantasy quarterbacks.
But the question many have is whether Tannehill will continue to improve. His PFF grades would suggest he’s on the right path. Tannehill graded out as our No. 5 quarterback in 2013 and posted the 11th highest grade last season (he was one of just 18 quarterbacks to grade out positively).
His aDOT of 8.2 was among the lowest in the league, but this was in part a product Bill Lazor’s offense, not to mention his limited compliment of receivers last season. The Dolphins certainly improved in that department this season, but more about that in a bit.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Tannehill’s deep ball accuracy. While his lack of chemistry with Mike Wallace was much discussed, Tannehill actually finished mid-pack in deep ball accuracy, completing 37.7 percent of throws traveling over 20 yards in the air. That said, Tannehill’s 53 deep ball attempts ranked 20th out of 25 qualifiers.
One area where the Dolphins need to improve is in protecting Tannehill. He was one of the most frequently pressured quarterbacks last season, seeing a pressure on 38.4 percent of his dropbacks. Only five quarterbacks saw pressure more frequently, and only Colin Kaepernick and Blake Bortlers took more sacks than Tannehill’s 46.
Mike Pouncy’s return at center will help, as Samson Satele was an abomination last season. Likewise, having Branden Albert back will help improve PFF’s No. 31 pass blocking unit last season. That said, the Dolphins will need second-year man and former first-rounder Ju’Wuan James to take a step forward. James was the fifth worst pass blocking defensive tackle last season.
While questions linger, Tannehill has already shown he can put up QB1 numbers. His reasonably high ceiling in addition to the Dolphins offseason upgrades make Tannehill a very intriguing fantasy option if you’re the type who prefers to wait at quarterback.
Miami overhauled their receiver corps this offseason acquiring Kenny Stills in a trade with the Saints, signing Greg Jennings, and drafting DeVante Parker in the first round. This trio joins incumbent second-year man Jarvis Landry. Currently, we’re projecting Stills and Jennings to start on the outside with Landry manning the slot. That leaves Parker as the odd man out, though I suspect this could change as we get into the preseason.
Parker is the Dolphins’ biggest receiver by three inches (6’3”), and he possesses great speed (4.4 at the Combine). But he’s not a one-trick pony. At the college level he proved excellent after the catch, forcing 15 missed tackles on just 43 receptions. From a talent standpoint, Parker is arguably the best receiver on the Dolphins, and it’s only a matter of time before the cream rises to the top.
In fantasy drafts, my preference has been to prioritize Parker over Landry, though present ADP has Landry going at pick 6.09 while Parker is coming off the board at 10.05.
Note: After this was published, news broke that Parker had surgery to replace a screw in his foot. He’s likely to miss the remainder of the offseason, but the Dolphins are hopefully he’s ready for Week 1. Expect Parker’s ADP to plummet. That said, I’d still be willing to take a late-round flier on him in redraft leagues with the hopes that he gets back to full speed by October in similar fashion to what we saw out of Odell Beckham Jr. last season.
While Landry’s 84-catch rookie season was impressive, a closer look is necessary. He finished 30th in PPR scoring, but just 49th in standard leagues. With 758 yards and an aDOT of just 5.5 (second lowest among all wide receivers), Landry just wasn’t a big play threat. This is unlikely to change with Landry remaining in the slot.
It’s debatable whether Parker opens the season as a starter, but there’s no denying that he offers a higher fantasy ceiling than Landry. Better yet, you can get him at a huge discount nearly four rounds after Landry is likely to come off the board.
Jennings is on the downslope of his career and doesn’t figure to be a factor in fantasy leagues, but Stills offers some intriguing potential. Despite the Saints’ floundering offense last season, Stills managed a solid 931 yards and three scores on 63 catches. That ranked him 36th in standard scoring leagues.
While often labeled as a big-play threat, Stills aDOT of 12.8 sat near the middle of the pack. That said he does give the Dolphins more explosion on the outside. At the same time, Stills is coming off the board at roughly the same ADP as Parker. To quote my friend from Oklahoma, “That just ain’t right.” Stills is more of a later-round flier who projects as a WR5 type.
Of course, the Dolphins also added a receiving tight end in Jordan Cameron. While we’ve seen flashes of elite fantasy ability out of Cameron, the 26-year-old has missed 17 games over his first four seasons. It’s not fair to put Cameron among this year’s top fantasy tight ends, but his ceiling is high enough to warrant consideration in that massive tier of tight ends after the top 5.
At running back, we saw Lamar Miller emerge in his third season, topping 1,000 yards for the first time and finishing as a top 10 fantasy option. While he only saw 254 touches, Miller excelled against base defense, averaging a league-high 5.8 yards per carry. Though it should be noted that he only had 70 carries against base due to the Dolphins’ frequent use of 11-personnel.
Miller is certainly an intriguing fantasy option following a season where he produced the ninth most fantasy points per opportunity (0.37) in standard leagues. However, the Dolphins threw a wrench in the works with the third-day selection of Jay Ajayi out of Boise State. Touted by some as the third best running back in this year’s rookie class, concerns of a bone-on-bone condition in his right knee caused Ajayi to fall to the fifth round.
In Ajayi, the Dolphins have a capable runner who excels as a pass catcher. Last season, he ran the most routes among draft-eligible RBs and averaged a strong 1.55 yards per route run. Ajayi also gained 1165 yards after contact (No. 2 among draft-eligible RBs) and forced 51 missed tackles.
The Dolphins believe Ajayi has the potential to be a three-down back. His presence on the roster should again put a cap on Miller’s touches. It doesn’t appear to be a full-blown RBBC situation, but it’s a big stretch to expect another top 10 performance out of Miller. While Ajayi’s knee is concerning, I wouldn’t hesitate to scoop him up in dynasty formats.
Switching to defense, Miami made a huge splash in free agency, signing DT Ndamukong Suh. One of the league’s elite players, Suh has been a dominant interior player averaging 7.2 sacks per season over his career. He’s also taken steps forward as a run defender, and graded out second against the run among defensive tackles last season. Suh remains a viable fantasy option, especially in DT-required leagues.
However, Suh’s presence also has a ripple effect on all the players around him. While I doubt Suh leads to more sacks for Cameron Wake, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Our top-graded 4-3 defensive end last season, Wake remains one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. In 2014, Wake recorded a QB pressure on 15.5 percent of his pass rush snaps. Only J.J. Watt posted a higher rate.
Wake’s sack potential is enormous, but with just 37 and 36 total tackles in the last two seasons, his low tackle floor means an inconsistent fantasy profile. It’s tough to trust him as more than a DL2.
It’s fair to argue that Wake’s stable mate Olivier Vernon offers a higher fantasy ceiling. Vernon’s numbers regressed last season after his breakout performance in 2013, but he’s still young (turns 25 this season) and should benefit from Suh. Vernon should improve on his QB pressure rate of 10.6 percent and is a viable threat for double-digit sacks. He’s also shown the ability to post 50-plus tackles, which makes him an upside DL2.
At linebacker, the Dolphins are projected to start Koa Misi in the middle with Jelani Jenkins on the weak side and Chris McClain on the strong side. For fantasy purposes, Jenkins is the name to know. Thrust into an every-down role last season, Jenkins struggled at times but managed to post 110 total tackles (83 solo) and 3.5 sacks. That was good enough for 19th among linebackers in balanced fantasy scoring.
Jenkins managed a strong tPOP recording a tackle on 15.0 percent of his opportunities, which bodes positively for continued IDP production in 2015. He’s an high upside LB2.
Those in deeper leagues will also want to keep Misi in mind. Injuries slowed his 2014 campaign, but he looked at home in the middle, and he saw his share of subpackage snaps. His tPOP of 11.4 percent means we’re not likely to see a much tackle volume out of Misi, but the fact that he’s likely to stay on the field for all three downs gives him IDP appeal. Consider him a high floor/low ceiling depth option.
That brings us to safety, where Reshad Jones posted the most fantasy points among defensive backs from Week 6 on last season (he was suspended for the first four games). In 12 games, Jones racked up 80 total tackles (70 solo), three picks, and a sack.
Jones’ tPOP of 13.7 percent was elite-level, as only five defensive backs recorded a tackle more frequently. He also made a play on a jaw dropping 28.0 percent of balls thrown into his coverage. Putting that all together, it’s hard to not position Jones as the No. 1 fantasy defensive back this season.
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor and resident IDP maven and DFS junkie of PFF Fantasy.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is one of the most accurate rankers in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.