A fantasy football preview of the Dolphins this year. Profiled players include Chad Henne, Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, Lex Hilliard, and Brandon Marshall.
At the end of the 2009 season the big need in Miami was at wide receiver. So what did the Dolphins do to make sure that wouldn't be an issue in 2010? They went out and traded for one of the league's best receivers: Brandon Marshall. I then went on to say the next piece of the puzzle Miami needed to address was at quarterback. Many of you disagreed with me, believing Chad Henne was the future of Dolphins football. I won't say that Henne had a horrible year in 2010, but I don't believe he had the type of year many were expecting.
For this reason I believe the Dolphins will once again be looking for a quarterback to at the very least compete with Henne for the starting job. Once free agency opens: Brady Quinn, Alex Smith and Marc Bulger will be available. In addition, current Titans quarterback Vince Young will likely be on the market once Tennessee cuts him loose. There is also the possibility Miami could make a trade for Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb or disgruntled Bengal Carson Palmer. There are a number of options for the Miami front office to explore and it will be interesting to see where they head.
From a fantasy perspective it will be difficult to determine just how much of an impact many of these players will have this year. The quarterback position is up for grabs, the running back situation is up in the air and the only guy who is not going anywhere, Marshall, isn't sure who will be throwing him the ball. Until the lockout ends and the Dolphins fill in the gaps determining just how fantasy worthy some of these players will be is a crapshoot.
I have to admit I'm not sold on Chad Henne. Many people believe he has what it takes to lead Miami to the Superbowl, but I don't believe he's the right fit. Rumor has it the front office wants to bring in some competition for Henne, which it not always a good thing for fantasy owners. Some players respond well to competition while others fall apart. The other problem is if Henne does win the starting job but performs poorly on Sunday then it's possible he will lose the starting job. Keep an eye on this situation and if Henne is not the obvious starter come week 1 then stay away. There are other quarterbacks in the league who will score you just as many fantasy points and you won't have the headache caused from wondering how long he'll remain the starter.
The front office threatened to bring in a veteran quarterback to compete for the starting job with Henne, but that never happened. I guess they they couldn't talk Favre or Marino out of retirement. Competition or not, my outlook on Henne hasn't changed. Chad was the 26th ranked quarterback in the league last year and I don't see him rocketing into the top 10 this season. If you're looking to gamble in the late rounds then by all means select Henne. Maybe the Henne to Marshall connection will be a regular occurrence this season.
Coming off another tremendously disappointing season, Reggie Bush will likely have a limited role in the Saints offense again in 2011. Bush played in only eight games last season, rushing 36 times for 150 yards while also catching 34 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown. Bush looked likely to be leaving the Saints earlier in the off-season, but recent comments seem to suggest that the Saints will hang onto Bush for at least one more season. If Bush does stick around with the Saints, he is likely to have a role on third downs and in passing situations, but this likely will not be enough to make him a solid fantasy player in any league. Bush's best chance to make a fantasy impact would probably come with another team, but it is unlikely to happen at this point in the off-season.
From a fantasy perspective, Bush has never been a great player. Sure from time to time he will score 18-20 points, but that requires Bush to be on the field. Since entering the league in 2006, Reggie has played all 16 games of a season just once -- his rookie season. Setting aside the rookie year when he actually played all 16 games (because I don't believe he'll make it through a full season this year), Bush has not rushed for more than 600 yards and he has yet to break 450 receiving yards. On the field Bush is a game changer, but that doesn't always equate to great fantasy numbers. As a flex option or bye week filler, Bush is a good option; but don't draft Reggie thinking the move to Miami will turn him into a fantasy stud.
With the 62nd overall pick in the 2011 draft Miami selected Kansas State's Daniel Thomas. Right now Daniel Thomas is the only running back on this list who we know will be a member of the Miami Dolphins in September; Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will be free agents when the CBA is signed. In junior college Thomas played quarterback in a wildcat offense, which could be useful if Miami continues to implement their wildcat offense. At 6 ft 1 in and 225 pounds with 4.55 speed, Thomas has the size and speed to be an every down back. When that happens will depend on who the Dolphins sign off free agency.
The signing of Reggie Bush was a good thing for Thomas. For starters, rookie backs who begin the season as the feature back tend to break down in the later weeks; they're not used to a 16 game NFL schedule and their bodies just can't take the beating. With Bush on board, Thomas won't need to shoulder the entire load and thus he should be able to handle the full 16 game schedule. Another reason fantasy owners eying Thomas have to like Reggie joining the team is that these guys are not similar style backs. Bush is more of an around the end back and Thomas is more of a bruiser. Had the Dolphins signed someone like Bradshaw then Thomas wouldn't look so attractive. I believe Thomas is a solid back who will be a force in the league for years to come. For this season however, I think he's best used as a flex option or bye week filler until we see some consistent production, which would warrant an upgrade to starter.
With Bush and Thomas ahead of Hillard on the depth chart there really isn't much fantasy value here. Sure when Bush misses a few games Hillard will come in to spell Thomas but those chances will be few and far between. Unless something happens to both Bush and Thomas I would stay away from Hillard.
Last year was Marshall's first season with the Dolphins. Brandon played in 14 games compiling 86 receptions for 1,014 yards and 3 touchdowns. In all it was not a bad season for Marshall. Had the number of touchdown been in the 8-9 neighborhood Brandon would have been a viable second receiver. This season -- if Chad Henne remains the starting quarterback for the Dolphins -- I would expect Marshall's numbers to be similar to last year's. Should Miami bring in say Marc Bulger or trade for Kyle Orton then I would expect Marshall's numbers to be better. If you're looking for a receiver who scores 5-7 points a week with an occasional 15 point week then Brandon is your guy. If you're looking for 12 points a week on a consistent basis then you should look elsewhere.
Last year it seemed as though Henne and Marshall were never on the same page. Over the first week in practice, that trend looked as though it would continue into this season. However, on Sunday Henne threw 3 touchdown passes in an intersquad scrimmage and all three went to Marshall. Maybe this is a sign of something big for this season. Lets hope so, because Marshall can be a big time receiver and post great fantasy numbers, he just needs his quarterback to get him the ball.