Fantasy Football Focus: Miami Dolphins

Russell IvanacSenior Analyst IAugust 10, 2008

It's the dawn of a new era in Miami—The Parcells Era. With a new era comes change, and we have already seen plenty of it. Some of the biggest changes have come by way of departures, including head coach Cam Cameron (and most of his staff), linebacker Zach Thomas, and defensive end Jason Taylor.

That isn't to say that there haven't been key additions. The quarterback position saw a large upgrade with the additions of Chad Pennington and Chad Henne. No. 1 pick Jake Long and linebacker Akin Ayodele are two more additions that should impact the team this year.

So how does the shakeup affect the fantasy values of Miami's players? Let's just say that this "rebuilding" year will more than likely be just that.



Chad Pennington

Up until Brett Favre was dealt to the Jets, the quarterback position was an open competition in Miami. Then Pennington found a new home and effectively ended the collective chances of Josh McCown, Chad Henne, or John Beck winning the starting job. Is it still possible that one of the three could win the starting job? Yes, but I would personally be shocked.

Pennington isn't known for his arm strength, but as this article points out, it hasn't stopped him from being more effective than a certain famous quarterback. He is a crafty quarterback and loves high-percentage short routes that let him dump the ball off and watch his receivers go. Sounds similar to last year's Jeff Garcia, and he put together a decent enough year.

I'm not saying Pennington will lead them to a playoff berth, but he will be a decent No. 2 fantasy quarterback that could be drafted in deeper leagues.



Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams

The Dolphins have a surprisingly good offensive line, led by rookie offensive tackle Jake Long and center Samson Satele. That is great news for the player that will be the focus of their offense: Ronnie Brown. Too bad he will be the only runner taking advantage of that, considering they have no solid backup to speak of.

Brown doesn't have great top-end speed, but he is a tough runner and catches the ball out of the backfield as well as anyone in the league. His true value will depend on how quickly he can return to 100 percent. The quicker he can prove that his knee is fully healed, the quicker he will get more carries and receptions.

I'm sure some people may disagree with me, but I think Brown is nothing more than a No. 2 fantasy running back. Also, he probably will be the only Dolphin drafted in most leagues.

Williams hasn't been an effective runner since 2005, and next year, that statement will more than likely be true as well. He has smoked his glory days away, and is a change-of-pace back at best. He has no fantasy value now, and if Brown gets hurt, that won't change.



Ted Ginn/Ernest Wilford/Anthony Fasano

The Dolphins have a talented running back and a capable quarterback, but an actual No. 1 receiver is something they do not have. As a result, their receiving corps is the weak point of their offense.

Ginn has tremendous speed, but is faster than quick. He is also a great deep threat, seeing as few defensive backs can contend with his speed, so if Pennington can get him the ball deep, both of their fantasy values will rise. The offense needs him to be a go-to guy, but many believe he doesn't have it in him.

I think the jury is still out, and now that he has a competent quarterback, we just might see what he can actually do. He could be an interesting sleeper pick, but has little more than No. 5 receiver value right now.

There isn't much to say about Wilford. He isn't considered fast and has the skill set of a complementary receiver at best, not a No. 2 guy. The only good thing I can say is that his size could make him a red-zone target, and he would have to pull in some of those passes right?

He doesn't have any noticeable fantasy value now, and that shouldn't be changing anytime soon.

Fasano was brought to the Dolphins (by trade) because Parcells likes him. In fact, Parcells liked him enough to draft him in 2006 while Parcells was with the Dallas Cowboys. That is enough proof for me to believe that Fasano will get the starting tight end job.

It also helps his case that he already knows the system, has good hands, and plays good over the middle. He holds enough fantasy value to possibly be considered in a bye-week, but nothing more.



Jay Feely

Feely only missed two field goals last year and has shown plenty of accuracy inside of 40 yards. However he is 25 of 34 from beyond 40 yards over the last three years. So, as long as the team puts him in a position to kick short field-goals, he will be money, but how often will that happen? Not often enough to earn Feely much fantasy value.



The loss of both Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor leaves the defense with far less skill and leadership. ILB Channing Crowder will be looking to assume more of a leadership role, and rookie DE Phillip Merling will be looking to eventually compensate for what the pass rush lost with Taylor's departure.

Crowder and OLB Joey Porter will be leading the linebacking corps, which may be the strength of the defense. Crowder is a solid run stopper, but isn't as solid when he has to drop into coverage. Porter will more than likely be the defense's biggest sack threat, as he will be getting plenty of chances in the Miami's 3-4 scheme that often leaves an OLB with one hand in the dirt.

Will Allen is the best cornerback that Miami has to offer, and he has proven himself to be good in run support and on corner blitzes. Injuries hurt their safeties last year, but SS Yeremiah Bell is looking to come back and prove that his strong start before getting hurt last year wasn't a fluke. He is able to step up in run support well and has big play ability.

The return game is where most of the Dolphin's defensive unit's fantasy value should come from. Ginn has a lot of potential with his blazing speed, but needs to work on his ball security to take it to the next level. This unit doesn't hold much value, and probably won't until the offense can hold onto the ball longer or a few big-time playmakers emerge. I wouldn't advise looking their way this season.


Top-Five Miami Dolphins Fantasy Football Player

1. Ronnie Brown

2. Chad Pennington

3. Ted Ginn

4. Ricky Williams

5. Anthony Fasano

Bye Week: 4