The Miami Dolphins have made quite the strides in the past few seasons. They've turned their entire identity round and round, going from a mediocre mini-roadblock for opponents in the AFC East, to 1-15, and suddenly back into the thick of the playoff race in the past two seasons.
They won their division and reached the playoffs in 2008, behind Chad Pennington's second Comeback of the Year award season, and continued their resurgence back into the league's competitive ranks with a quiet playoff chase (albeit unsuccessful) leading down to the final game of the season in 2009.
With a new quarterback under center, Chad Henne, and Chad Pennington sitting on the bench, Miami heads into another season with high hopes, and once again with no sure-fire identity that gives experts a guarantee on what to expect.
That's where NFL Soup comes in.
We have our finger on the pulse of the league, and we're pretty confident we found five things you'll want to keep an eye out for in 2010. In fact, we came up with five things we just about guarantee for the 2010 fantasy football season.
No. 1: Brandon Marshall Will Once Again Get His 100
Miami didn't give up two second-rounders to watch Marshall twiddle his thumbs and to have Chad Henne throw more passes to Davone Bess and his running backs.
Miami can run the ball and perform the Wildcat with the best of them, but with Marshall, they can now stretch the field and insert an explosive passing game. It may take a little while for everyone to adjust, but in the long run, Marshall will be the best thing that ever happened to Henne and this young, growing team.
Mark him down for a fourth straight season with 100-plus catches. Hey, if Henne can lock in and get Bess the ball, why not Marshall?
No. 2: Ronnie Brown Won't Rid of the Injury Bug
Brown can put up dynamite numbers as one of the top Wildcat options in the league when healthy, but after missing 16 total games in the past three seasons, his health has become a huge question mark.
Factor in that Ricky Williams is coming off of a sensational 2009 season, Brown is in a contract year, and that he's coming off of a Lisfranc fracture, the odds are against him to make magic happen for Miami in 2010.
The contract year could keep him motivated to turn in a full season with big numbers, but he's still splitting carries, and a Lisfranc injury is no small task from which to return.
Miami could begin to cut him loose and ride the hot hand (Williams), while looking toward fresh blood in the 2011 NFL Draft.
No. 3: Ricky Williams, An Oldy But Goody
Williams is 33, and if Ronnie Brown is even remotely healthy in 2010, they will once again be splitting the rushing load in Miami's backfield.
But if our second prediction (see above) pans out, he could be back as the starter in 2010 for the second straight season. Williams may be old for a running back, but when you look at the fact that he missed two separate seasons and had just 334 total carries in the three seasons combined going into last year, it's safe to say he's got some miles left.
Williams put up an impressive 1,121 yards and 11 scores last year, and we don't see him slowing down just yet. Until Brown is fully healed and back as the starter, we'd quietly grab Williams as our first Dolphin running back off of fantasy draft boards.
No. 4: Brian Hartline is a Legit No. 2
You can talk about his supposed car crash all you want, but unless Hartline is in jail or facing a suspension, we're buying into the play-making ability we saw out of him in 2009.
Ted Ginn Jr. is gone, which means Davone Bess can concentrate solely on the slot, and newly acquired Brandon Marshall can reel in the No. 1 receiver targets.
But that still leaves some fantasy value to be had, especially in a growing offense. We like Hartline to easily beat out Greg Camarillo and best his 2009 totals of 500-plus receiving yards and an impressive 16.3 yards per catch.
He shouldn't be flying off fantasy draft boards, but Hartline possesses decent No. 4 WR value if his legal troubles stop chasing him when the season begins.
No. 5: Chad Henne Will Arrive in 2010
Henne went from being a clipboard holder in 2008 to taking over for an injured and struggling Chad Pennington in 2009.
It took him until just his third game in 2009 to make an impact, as he played very well against a stout New York Jets pass defense, as he threw for two touchdowns, no picks, and 241 yards.
Henne certainly had his share of struggles during the season, but exhibited a strong arm and poise in the pocket, and finished with a solid 60.8 completion percentage on the season.
Henne also made quite an impression on fantasy owners last season, topping 320 passing yards in three of his final five games. Just think of the level of play he can ascend to with an elite receiver like Brandon Marshall running routes in Miami.
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