The 2018 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 and/or beyond. I will be reviewing each team in the reverse order of the final standings. Next up…the Miami Dolphins.
Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Returning to the field after missing all of 2017 due to a torn ACL, Ryan Tannehill was a mixed bag, throwing multiple touchdown passes in six of 11 games played, while being limited to just 137.2 passing yards per game and a 2:9 TD/turnover ratio in the other five. Injuries also continued to dog the former 2012 eighth overall draft pick as Tannehill’s five absences were the result of an AC shoulder joint sprain sometime during the first quarter of the season. Finally fed up with Tannehill’s lack of reliability both in terms of on-field performance and the inability to stay healthy, the Dolphins traded him to the Tennessee Titans this past March, where he will presumably back-up another injury-prone quarterback in Marcus Mariota. Brock Osweiler (another beleaguered member of the quarterback class of 2012) filled in when Tannehill was on the shelf, and did very little outside of a 380 yard/three touchdown performance in the Dolphins’ shocking Week 6 win over the Bears. Osweiler’s contract only ran through the 2018 season, and he has not been re-signed as of this writing. So where does that leave the Dolphins for 2019? They went out and signed everyone’s favorite stopgap option: Ryan Fitzpatrick (two years/$11 million). Armed with a pass catching corps that isn’t completely devoid of talent, Fitzpatrick could find himself fantasy relevant at times, though as usual it will be hard to predict when those high-scoring outbursts will occur. Fitzpatrick will likely be backed up by one of Luke Falk or Jake Rudock, that is unless the Dolphins decide to spend an early-round 2019 Draft Pick on a quarterback.
When the Dolphins listed both Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake as “co-starters” prior to last Summer’s training camp, they were not joking, as the pair experienced a near even touch split by season’s end (though Drake did manage to out-snap his elder counterpart by a significant share margin of 59 percent to 41 percent). The 35-year old Gore managed to finish with greater than 4.0 yards-per-carry for the first time since 2014, though also carried the dubious distinction of being the only 2018 running back with at least 150 carries that failed to score a rushing touchdown. Signed to just a one-year contract with the Dolphins, Gore was scooped up by the Bills during free agency (one year/$2 million), for whom he will play his 15th season by teaming with another aging rusher in LeSean McCoy.
After being utilized as a workhorse to close out the 2017 season, Kenyan Drake went back to being more of a role player, surpassing 10 totes in a game just five times in 2018, while failing to be given more than 14 in any of them. Drake’s 2018 overall PPR RB13 finish came mainly on the strength of a 53-477-5 receiving line, which helped sandwich his end-of-year fantasy point totals in between Phillip Lindsay and Chris Carson. Additionally, Drake’s 1.19 fantasy points per touch ranked higher than studs such as Christian McCaffrey and Todd Gurley (each checked in at 1.18). With both Gore and former head coach Adam Gase (whose source of disdain for feeding Drake could never quite be pinpointed) having relocated elsewhere in 2019, Drake has a chance to enter training camp with a clean slate. However, it remains a concern that the Dolphins new head honcho in Brian Flores has refused to commit to Drake as his featured runner, and the team still has explosive sophomore Kalen Ballage (fourth-round, 2018) lurking on the roster.
Like Drake, Ballage was a part-time player in college, though boasts impressive athleticism, particularly for his size (listed as 6’2″/237 lbs.). Prior to Gore getting injured in Week 15, Ballage had been sitting on just four carries for 11 yards in 9 games played, and a majority of his rushing production came on a 75-yard scoring scamper against the Vikings. Head coach Flores has seemingly indicated both Drake and Ballage will have offensive roles in 2019, though it’s unclear what those roles will be at this time. The good news for the pair though is that outside of Kenneth Farrow (who hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2016, and was last spotted in the now-defunct AAF as a member of the San Antonio Commanders) Miami did not bring in any notable NFL free agents as competition, though a rookie running back selection appears likely at this point. Drake’s veteran status should earn him the first look as the starter, though Ballage could force a committee with a strong offseason. Couple the playing time questions with the fact Miami currently has the lowest projected win total (5) of all 32 NFL teams, it’s hard to recommend any Dolphins back as much more than high-end depth for fantasy purposes.