The 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, so it’s time to briefly examine the state of each team’s skill positions for fantasy purposes with an eye towards next season. I will be reviewing each team in the reverse order of the 2017 NFL standings. The next team on the docket:
Miami Dolphins (6-10)
Injury struck the Dolphins’ quarterback room early in last August’s training camp, as Ryan Tannehill suffered a partial re-tear of the ACL he originally tore in Week 14 of the 2016 season. Faced with the decision to roll with backup Matt Moore as the starter or bring in outside help, the Dolphins opted for the latter as head coach Adam Gase was able to lure old friend Jay Cutler out of retirement with a one-year $10 million deal. While Cutler didn’t play as poorly as I initially anticipated, he didn’t set the world afire either, as he traded moments of brilliance with his typical careless turnovers while also missing a couple games due to injury. Health permitting, Tannehill projects as the Dolphins starting quarterback for 2018, though the team has reportedly not ruled out using their 11th overall pick in April’s draft on a signal caller depending on who is still available. Meanwhile, with Cutler’s one-year contract fulfilled, the former 2006 first-round pick figures to head back into retirement after reportedly indicating he’s not interested in becoming a backup.
Jay Ajayi started the first 7 games for the Dolphins, going over the 100-yard threshold twice while never reaching the end zone before finally being traded to the Eagles for a 2018 4th-round draft pick. I’ll provide a more extensive breakdown of Ajayi in my review of the Eagles. With Ajayi gone, the Dolphins operated a running back committee with Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake, though a Week 12 shoulder injury to Williams opened the door for Drake becoming the full-time starter. From Weeks 13 through 17, Drake averaged 118.8 total yards per game with two scores, and showed the NFL why the Dolphins felt comfortable making him the third running back selected in the 2016 draft (73rd overall) despite the fact Drake never started a game in college. Drake’s three-down ability makes him a low-end RB1 going into 2018 fantasy drafts, though the Dolphins’ questionable offensive line play remains a concern. Turning 25 this Spring, Williams is due for free agency, and doesn’t project to carry fantasy value regardless of where he lands.
This was it. This was the season DeVante Parker was supposed to take his third-year leap into the WR1 realm after a promising finish to his 2016 campaign, and months of hype coming from the Dolphins coaching staff during training camp, particularly with quarterback Jay Cutler appearing to favor Parker during the preseason. Parker started the season well enough, averaging 76.7 receiving yards per game and scoring once over his first three games before suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 5 that caused him to miss the next three games. Parker was able to return for the Dolphins’ Week 9 contest but averaged just 43.7 receiving yards per game for the rest of the season. Consistency and proneness to injury make it hard to justify the talented Parker as anything more than a WR3 for 2018. Jarvis Landry’s stats were supposed to take a hit with the Dolphins switching from Ryan Tannehill to Jay Cutler, and while Landry did fail to post his third straight 1,000 yard season, he managed career highs in receptions and receiving touchdowns. While scoring had not been a big part of Landry’s game for most of his young career, his 18 receptions inside the 20-yard line led the league with all of his scores coming from 9 yards out or less. Having yet to receive a contract extension from the Dolphins, Landry is due to become a free agent this Spring so his 2018 fantasy value hinges on where he lands. If Landry re-signs with Miami, he will remain on the WR2/3 radar, with added value in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues. Kenny Stills’s yardage and reception totals improved from 2016, though he only scored six receiving touchdowns as opposed to nine the year prior. While Stills is capable of posting a big game any given week, his usage is too unpredictable to recommend as anything more than a WR4 for 2018, though his value could rise in a hurry should Landry sign elsewhere.
Julius Thomas was another recipient of repeated offseason hyperbole via the Dolphins coaching staff, though the end results from Thomas’ first season in Miami were not much different from the two years spent in Jacksonville. Once one of the most prolific red zone weapons in the NFL, Thomas has now caught just 12 touchdown passes over the last three seasons after totaling 24 throughout 2014/2015 with the Denver Broncos. Turning 30-years old in June, the Dolphins are reportedly expected to part ways with Thomas rather than pay him the $6.5 million he’s owed for the 2018 season. If the Dolphins do indeed show Thomas the door, expect the team to address the tight end position either via the draft or free agency.