QB Ryan Tannehill – With no games played in 2017, I’ll take a look back at Ryan’s previous season. The stats for Tannehill had minimal playable value in 2016. His best two games throwing the ball came in Week 2 (387/2) and Week 3 (319/3), but he did toss four interceptions. Over his first three starts, he averaged 37.7 pass attempts. The Dolphins switched to a rushing attack from that point on leading to him attempting only 27.6 passes per game over his next ten starts. Ryan had fewer than 200 yards in five of those games. Over his last seven games of the season, he had 13 TDs and five Ints. His completion rate (67.1) was the best of his career plus he made a nice step forward in yards per pass attempt (7.7 – career high). Over the last two seasons, Tannehill has been last active as a runner (32/141/1 and 39/164/1). His season ended in Week 14 due to partially torn ACL in his left knee that didn’t require surgery until it blew out last August. With a full season to recover, he’s expected to be ready for training camp. In 2017, Miami attempted 125 more passes than 2016 (477) with fade in their run game and Jay Cutler playing QB. The Dolphins lost their top possession WR in the offseason while adding a possible upside pass catching TE. Overall, Tannehill projects to be a league average player at best. Possible 4,000 yards passing with about 25 TDs.
RB Kenyan Drake – Fantasy owners will be intrigued by the finished of Drake in 2017 after Miami traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles. Over five starts, Kenyan posted 594 combined yards with two TDs and 17 catches on 108 combined touches. He averaged 21.6 touches per game as a starter with about 119 yards per game. His best value came in Week 13 vs. the Patriots (193 combined yards with five catches). Miami did bring in Frank Gore to compete for some playing time, which will lead to Drake falling to the 3/4 turn in most 12-team PPR leagues. In his college career, Kenyan was never a full time back creating a window of doubt for Fantasy owners this draft season. The Dolphins tried to add a power type RB back in this year’s draft as well. Last season Miami only attempted 22.5 rushing attempts per game with only four rushing TDs. Their RBs caught 70 of 100 passes for 491 yards and two TDs. Upside player for sure, but his final 2018 draft value will be fluid until Fantasy owners see how the Dolphins use the RBs in 2018. I’ll set his bar at 200 rushes for about 900 yards plus about 50 catches and another 350+ yards with a handful of TDs. Drake projects as a 200+ Fantasy point RB in PPR leagues.
RB Frank Gore – In his 13th year in the NFL, Gore fell just short of his tenth season with over 1,000 yards rushing (961). The Colts gave him 300 touches leading to 1,106 combined yards with four TDs and 29 catches. Frank needs 76 yards to pass Curtis Martin for the fourth most all-time. Miami will get him 150+ touches in 2018 with possibly most of the goal line chances. Gore never gets hurt, so he’ll be a pest all season for Drake owners.
RB Kalen Ballage – Over his four seasons at Arizona State, Ballage rushed for 1,858 yards with 76 catches and 26 TDs while playing time with other RBs. His best success came in his junior season (1,005 combined yards with 15 TDs and 44 catches). Kalen gained only 4.4 yards per rush in his college career. Power type runner with some pass-catching ability. His lack of a full-time job in college sets a low bar in the NFL. If Gore had an injury, Kalen should get eight to ten touches per game behind Kenyan Drake.
Update: 8/14/2018 > Ballage struggled with his pass protection skills in training camp leading to an unhappy Ryan Tannehill.
WR DeVante Parker – In his three seasons in the NFL, Parker hasn’t lived up to Fantasy owners expectations. He has 139 catches for 1,908 yards and eight TDs on 233 targets. Last year DeVante was one pace for his best season in his career (57/670/1), but he missed three games with an ankle issue midseason. Parker finished with five games with six catches or more and eight with 60 yards receiving or more. The drop-down at QB to Jay Cutler didn’t help his scoring value. 2018 will be DeVante’s last year in Miami, so a great season could be a win for him in free agency. With Jarvis Landry no longer on the roster, Parker will naturally see a bump in targets. His next step should be 80+ catches for 1,100+ yards and about seven TDs. His lack of success may lead to him falling in drafts. I’m interested in 2018, but I’m not paying a premium.
Update: 8/15/2018 > Devante Parker broke his middle finger on his right hand as well putting him on a similar path as Rashaad Penny for a return to the starting lineup. Parker hasn’t been getting positive reports this summer, which creates a better WR1 window for Kenny Stills with Albert Wilson getting gaining some momentum. When healthy, Danny Amendola is going to be active in the Dolphins’ passing game. In the end, Parker is now in position to be the WR3 in Miami at best. His draft value is starting to fade, which does invite some upside if he becomes a WR5 instead of a WR3 in Fantasy drafts.
Dr. Roto’s Take on DeVante Parker:
There is an old football adage that says that wide receivers usually don’t figure out how to play well until their third season. Odell Beckham Jr. broke that mold years ago, so recent expectations have changed and wide receivers now have less time to figure themselves out at the pro level. In his 4th season in the NFL, Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker is still figuring out opposing defenses and has not reached his potential.
This is the year that Parker should have no excuses. WR Jarvis Landry has been traded to Cleveland, QB Ryan Tannehill is back at starter, and the Dolphins have found a running game with RBs Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore, and Kalen Ballage. So why is it that I still feel so murky when thinking about Parker’s ability to shine this year?
It comes down to one word: dedication. Does Parker want to be one of the best at his position? We have not yet seen that type of drive from him. What often happens is that successful high school and college players don’t have to work hard at those levels because they are athletically more gifted than the other players around them. However, when those same players get to the NFL they soon realize that EVERYONE is as talented as they are. What separates the great players (like Jerry Rice and Cris Carter) is their willingness to work hard in the off-season to prepare themselves for the following year. Up until this point all we have heard from Dolphins camp has been platitudes about how improved Parker is but have never seen him get to the next level.
The Dolphins have made quite a few offensive changes this off-season. They brought in Danny Amendola from the Patriots and Albert Wilson from the Chiefs. Both these receivers are smallish type route runners who find ways to get open. Ryan Tannehill should love throwing short to them as they don’t need a lot of time to get separation. The Dolphins also added TE Mike Gesicki from Penn State in the second round of the draft. Gesicki has 4.5 speed and is athletically cut from a Travis Kelce-type mold. All these added weapons will hinder Parker from being targeted excessively.
While I think there will be some minor overall improvement in Parker’s game, I don’t think that he will ever reach an elite level. At best he will be in the 70+ catch range and hopefully be a good red zone threat due to his size and outstanding leaping ability. I can see Parker having more value in TD-only formats as he won’t have enough receptions to be much more than a WR3 in a PPR league.
Projections for DeVante Parker: 72 catches for 976 yards and 7 TDS.
WR Kenny Stills – Over the last two years for Miami, Stills has 100 combined catches for 1,573 yards and 15 TDs on 186 targets. The best success of his career came in his second season in the NFL with the Saints when Kenny caught 63 of his 84 targets for 931 yards and three TDs. His catch rate has been short in 2016 (51.9) and 2017 (55.2) while catching 24 passes for over 20 yards and six catches for 40+ yards. The loss of Jarvis Landry should be a big win for Stills. He has a deep speed skill set over his five years in the NFL, but New Orleans used him more productively in 2014. Kenny should push his catch total over 70 while posting his first season with over 1,000 yards receiving. His ability to score should create a Fantasy buying opportunity in 2018. Last year he had three strong playable games (6/85/2, 7/180/1, and 5/98/1) for the daily market. A healthy Ryan Tannehill will be a plus for him as well.
WR Danny Amendola – On name value, Fantasy owners will be attracted to Amendola in this offense. He has a possession type skill set to slide into the 100-catch void created by the loss of Landry. The problem with the quick Fantasy deduction is that Amendola will start the year at age 32 with some injury risk when asked to be more active in the passing game over the long season. Danny has never had over 670 receiving yards in a season while posting three years with 60+ catches (63, 65, and 61). Amendola has talent, and he’s played some of his best games in the playoffs for the Patriots. Last year he had five games with six catches or more, which accounted for 34 of his 61 catches. I’d leave this club in the bag in 2018. Too many off weeks with a low ceiling.
WR Albert Wilson – The Chiefs looked Wilson’s way 62 times in 2018 leading to a career high in catches (42), receiving yards (554), and TDs (3). In his four seasons in the NFL, Albert has 124 catches for 1,544 yards and seven TDs on 198 targets. Only a low-level insurance policy with no impact value if asked to start for the Dolphins.
TE Mike Gesicki – Over his last two seasons at Penn State, Gesicki caught 105 passes for 1,242 yards and 15 TDs. He projects to be a pass catching TE with plus hands and upside in route running. Mike offers no value in blocking game leading to him having a rotational role in his rookie season. Gesicki needs to prove he can handle tight press coverage. In 2017, the Dolphins’ TEs caught 56 passes for 525 yards and four TDs on 90 targets. The previous season with Tannehill behind center for most games, TEs only has 55 catches for 551 yards and six TDs on 71 targets. Talent dictates opportunity. Gesicki may develop over the season, but his starting point can’t be higher than the TE chances over the last two years. Viable TE2 flier with hands catching skill set to offer upside in his rookie season. Think of him as 55/500/5 guy out of the gate in 2018.
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