2016 fantasy football depth charts: Miami Dolphins
(Editor’s note: As we lead up to the season, Director of PFF Fantasy Jeff Ratcliffe is breaking down each team’s depth chart from a fantasy perspective. Catch up on the work so far here.)
Update: The Dolphins signed veteran RB Arian Foster on July 18. Entering his age-30 season, Foster is coming off a torn Achilles and has missed 17 games over the last three years. Ajayi is still the favorite to start in Week 1, but there will almost certainly be a training camp battle for lead back duties. We’ll continue to update this situation throughout the preseason.
There’s a new dawn in Miami, as the Dolphins scored the highly coveted Adam Gase to replace the failed Joe Philbin regime. After successful stops as the offensive coordinator in Denver and Chicago, Gase brings a potent playbook that incorporates elements of the West Coast offense and classic Air Coryell vertical concepts.
Entering his fifth year, QB Ryan Tannehill hasn’t quite taken the next step in his development as a player. However, Gase has pushed Tannehill throughout offseason practices. He’ll also have more freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage, which was something Tannehill wasn’t allowed to do under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Tannehill has topped 4,000 yards passing in each of the last two seasons, and he’s a good bet to do so again under Gase. However, inconsistencies and a tendency to take too many sacks keeps Tannehill in the QB2 conversation.
The Dolphins have one of the league’s better young wide receiver groups, with Jarvis Landry locked in as the top target. Landry is coming off a 110-catch season where he finished 10th among wide receivers in PPR scoring. While he ranked sixth among wide receivers with 155 targets, Landry’s 7.4-yard average target depth was 116th at the position. Not being targeted heavily downfield limits Landry’s fantasy upside, as does his ability to find the end zone. He’s scored just nine touchdowns on 194 career catches. That being said, he’s still a WR2 based on volume alone.
Miami Dolphins projected 2016 offense with 2015 grades:
There’s also a strong possibility Landry’s target numbers could dip this season. We currently have him projected to see 128 targets, with some of those extra throws going DeVante Parker’s direction. A first-rounder in 2015, Parker got off to a slow start, but he scored three times over the Dolphins’ final five games. Unlike Landry, Parker posted a healthy 16.6-yard average target depth as a down-field threat. With a prototype No. 1 wide receiver build (6’3, 210), Parker is a strong breakout candidate in Gase’s fantasy-friendly offense.
Kenny Stills will enter training camp with the No. 3 job, but he’s likely to get pushed by rookie Leonte Carroo. Extremely productive in college, Carroo ranked second in yards per route run last year with a gaudy 808 yards and 10 scores on just 35 catches. Carroo was reportedly Miami’s second receiver on their draft board, and he’s already turning heads. Fantasy owners would be wise not to sleep on Carroo this season.
It’s an annual tradition to predict a breakout year for Jordan Cameron, but the veteran tight end has managed just one top-10 fantasy season – back in 2013 when he was with the Browns – in five years as a pro. However, we have seen strong performances out of tight ends in Gase’s offense. Julius Thomas had back-to-back top-10 finishes in 2013 and 2014, and “the other” Zach Miller came out of nowhere last year to finish 16th among tight ends in scoring despite really only taking over as the Bears’ receiving tight end over the second half of the season. Despite floundering last year, Cameron has TE1 upside. He’s certainly risky, but you can get him at a nice discount as a late-round option.
With Lamar Miller now in Houston, the Dolphins are turning the keys to the backfield over to second-year man Jay Ajayi. We didn’t see much of the former Boise State running back last season, as he carried the ball just 49 times and had seven catches. But Gase pointed to Ajayi as the clear lead back and has him working on his route running. In a three-down role, Ajayi has the potential to return strong fantasy value. He’s also in an ideal situation with really no threat on the Dolphins’ depth chart. At the same time, he’s an unproven player who comes with a lot of risk. Ajayi is best viewed as a boom-or-bust RB2.
[Is it worth throwing a pick on Ajayi with a question mark surrounding his full role? What kind of pick will Landry cost you in PPR versus standard? Check out our PFF Draft Master tool and try a mock draft, complete with offensive line grades, full projections and all the PFF data.]
Miami drafted Kenyan Drake out of Alabama, who figures to play a complementary role to Ajayi as a passing-down specialist. Drake is a strong receiver who finished second among running backs in yards per route run last year. He forced 37 combined missed tackles on just 108 touches. Interestingly, our team compared him to Ty Montgomery. With good size (6’1, 210) and speed – he ran a 4.45 40 – Drake will help the Dolphins out, but his limited role won’t do much for fantasy purposes.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins replaced the departed Olivier Vernon with veteran and former No. 1 overall pick, Mario Williams. Williams and Cameron Wake have some potential upside in sack-heavy scoring leagues, but neither player offers any more than limited tackle production. Kiko Alonso is penciled in as the middle linebacker, with Jelani Jenkins on the weak side. Both players figure to have a role in the subpackages, but fantasy owners should be cautious when choosing either Miami linebacker in IDP leagues. Jenkins is coming off an up and down 2015 campaign where he battled injury. Likewise, Alonso dealt with injury last year and hasn’t looked sharp since his rookie season. IDP owners will point to that year and Alonso’s 159 tackles as reason for hope, but keep in mind that the tackle-happy Buffalo home crew likely inflated those numbers. Both players should be considered risky LB3 options. The cream of the IDP crop in Miami is SS Reshad Jones. Last year’s top scorer among defensive backs, Jones ranked fifth in tackles per opportunity and made a play on an impressive 16.0 percent of balls thrown into his coverage. He’s an elite fantasy option.