NFL Team Preview: Dolphins are better in reality than for fantasy

·6-min read

We’re previewing every NFL team to get you ready for the 2021 season. Our analysts will tackle pressing fantasy questions and team win totals, in order from the squad with the least amount of fantasy relevancy all the way to the most talented team. Next up, the 27th-ranked Miami Dolphins.

1. The Dolphins ignored RB until late in the draft. Is this going to be a backfield by committee or are you drafting Myles Gaskin as a workhorse this season?

Liz: The Phins made seven selections (five in the first three rounds) and waited until their very last pick (No. 244) to draft a running back. The Doaks pick was a flyer… a concept fantasy managers are endlessly familiar with. Clearly, the current regime prioritized other needs.

From an fantasy POV that’s not a bad thing, as the coaching staff has additionally demonstrated a willingness to lean on a single RB backfield. In 2020, Gaskins averaged over 18 total touches per contest. Before spraining his MCL in Week 8, he recorded over 14 carries and 4 catches per contest. When he was absent, his former college teammate Salvon Ahmed subbed in, averaging nearly 16 carries per contest (and in one of those games — Week 11 — he suffered a shoulder sprain).

That doesn’t mean Gaskins is going to be effective all 17 games, but it does mean he’s likely to be deployed until he’s no longer effective. He’s a low-end RB2 with limited upside... but a clear path to top-of-the-season work.

Dalton: The coaching staff treated Gaskin as a workhorse when he was healthy last season, and I’m going to assume a mostly similar role moving forward. With ostensibly little competition on the depth chart and with Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle added during Year 2 of Tua starting, the Dolphins’ offense has upside. I’m treating Gaskin as a top-20 fantasy back.

Matt: The Dolphins continued to turn back to Myles Gaskin as their clear-cut RB1 in 2020 even though they don’t have much invested in him and other players performed well in his absence. But when he came back, he sent all of them right back to the bench. When he came back from IR in Week 13, he touched the ball 23 times. When he returned from the COVID list in Week 16, he logged a team-high 19 touches.

With the Dolphins making no major moves at running back, Gaskin is theoretically in line for that treatment once more. Still, we all agree that if the Broncos didn’t trade right in front of them in Round 2, they were taking Javonte Williams, right? So the hard and fast commitment to Gaskin still isn’t fully there. He’s appropriately slotted in drafts because some risk that the team will move away from him must be baked in.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 24: Myles Gaskin #37 of the Miami Dolphins runs for yardage during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on September 24, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Miami not addressing the backfield this offseason has boosted Myles Gaskin's fantasy value for 2021. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

2. New additions Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle join intriguing pass-catchers DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. Who has the best upside at their ADP? 

Matt: It is without question Will Fuller. He’s the best player of the three. Wins in all the most valuable areas of the field. And is an underrated threat in the quick-separation game that is perfect for the style of Tua Tagovailoa. If anyone is going to present a weekly starting value out of this trio, it will be Fuller. The smart bet is that none of the three bring that this year, unless the young quarterback takes a massive step forward.

Dalton: Fuller has the most upside, even accounting for his ADP. He remains one of the game’s biggest injury risks, but Fuller was the No. 6 fantasy wide receiver in points per game (0.5 PPR) last season, so his ceiling far outweighs an injury-prone Parker, a tight end and a rookie WR (who will move Gesicki out of the slot).

Liz: There’s upside in the unknown. Except Waddle isn’t unknown to his QB. Noting Tua’s struggles to deliver into tight windows (and thus connect with a contested catch specialist like Parker) as well as Fuller’s inability to stay on the field (active for 29 games over his last three seasons) Waddle is, certainly, the most intriguing fantasy option.

An explosive deep threat who uses speed and elusiveness to put consistent space between himself and defenders, Waddle WILL (not may) post highlight worthy plays and win DFS enthusiasts serious coin. When and how often remains to be seen. I’ve been regularly targeting him in the early double-digit rounds of Best Ball drafts.

3. With the talent around Tua Tagovailoa, what tier of fantasy QBs does he belong in — fringe QB1, solid option in SuperFlex/2 QB leagues or just a streamer at this point?

Dalton: The Dolphins clearly have intriguing skill position players, and Tua could easily improve another year removed from serious hip surgery, but he’s around my QB25, so that makes him more of a streamer. Tua got just 6.3 YPA as a rookie and doesn’t add a ton as a runner, so he’d need to make a major leap as a passer to move ahead of an otherwise loaded QB position. I mean, Matt Ryan is getting QB-friendly Arthur Smith to go along with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts and no running game, and he's barely a top-15 fantasy QB according to expert consensus.

Liz: The opportunity for Tua is certainly there. But the position is loaded with already proven talent. He’s in that fourth tier of signal-callers (QB15 - 25), somewhere between Daniel Jones and, ironically, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Adding Fuller and Waddle certainly increases his ceiling, and I’m happy to lean into that upside in SuperFlex leagues, but he’s no more than a streamer in single-QB redraft.

Matt: I’d say he’s a solid option in SuperFlex leagues and a possible streamer in 1QB formats. Tua is still largely an unknown at this point. We all like the moves the team made to beef up the skill position spots. The wide receiver room went from a clear weakness to a possible strength in just a few months. I think Tagovailoa also gets too much flack for a middling rookie season where he was playing fresh off a devastating injury. Still, we don’t know if this offense is going to be too pass-heavy and he doesn’t present monster rushing upside. Again, he’s a wild card only right now.

Miami Dolphins projected 2021 fantasy contributors

QB: Tua Tagovailoa

RB: Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, Malcolm Brown

WR: Will Fuller, DeVante Parker, Jaylen Waddle, Preston Williams

TE: Mike Gesicki

Miami Dolphins O/U on 9 team win total from BetMGM

Dalton: Miami added four rookies in the first 42 picks of the draft and Will Fuller through free agency, so it’s easy to get excited entering Tua's second season coming off a 10-6 campaign. The Dolphins project to have a favorable schedule, but there’s also little doubt their division improved greatly during the offseason. Given the huge question mark at the most important position on the field, a new OC and play caller, an extremely injury-prone WR group, a shaky offensive line and a defense that ranked bottom-10 in yards per play allowed last season, give me the UNDER, especially with the +125 juice.

Follow Dalton: @daltondeldon

Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF

Follow Matt: @MattHarmon_BYB

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