Fantasy football 2014 draft prep: Miami Dolphins team preview
The biggest offseason news coming out of Miami is the acquisition of free-agent running back Knowshon Moreno. The sixth-year veteran joins an offense that struggled to make much noise on the ground in 2013, as both Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas disappointed in replacing Reggie Bush, who left for Detroit after the 2012 season.
Moreno posted a career year in 2013 in Denver, rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns for the first time in his inconsistent career. The fact that he played on one of the highest-scoring offenses in NFL history, along with playing in a contract year, contributed to his great year. Unfortunately, as things seem to happen for the Dolphins, Moreno had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July, which definitely throws some question marks over his ability -- and durability – for the coming season.
A repeat of Moreno’s 2013 season is unlikely behind the Dolphins’ offensive line, which is trying to move past last year’s Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito episode. The Dolphins led the NFL with 58 sacks allowed in 2013, and their running game was one of the weakest in the league with just eight rushing touchdowns. The issues on the line even affected the number of rushing attempts, as only three teams had fewer rushing attempts per game (21.8). Half of the line has been revamped, but this unit could need time to gel.
Moreno coming into the season hobbled, coupled with a developing offensive line, spells a slow start for the Dolphins’ running game. But it also means a great opportunity for Miller, who could see more touches (and possibly starts) because of Moreno’s injury, and even produce some good stats in a couple games. Both running backs are being taken in the middle rounds at this point, and neither should be relied on as anything more than an RB3/4 heading into the season.
Most overvalued player
Lamar Miller, RB -- With just four Dolphins getting selected in most Fantasy leagues this summer, there are few choices for "busts" from this team. Wallace is the highest-ranked fantasy player on the team, but good things are expected in his second year with QB Ryan Tannehill.
Miller's fantasy value has been on a roller coaster in his NFL career, going from a backup to Reggie Bush in 2012, to an up-and-coming starting RB in 2013 – and down again after a disappointing season. The signing of Moreno signaled more bad news for Miller's fantasy prospects, until knee surgery became necessary, which could keep Moreno off the field until early August.
Miller is being drafted well ahead of Moreno now, so his chances of being a sleeper are long gone. Considering he was unimpressive in his sophomore season, not running with the power necessary to break tackles at the NFL level, Miller is overvalued again, even as a seventh-round pick.
Most undervalued player
Charles Clay, TE -- After the top nine or 10 tight ends, several tight ends could fill out those last few starting-tight end spots in 12-team leagues. From Antonio Gates to Martellus Bennett to Zach Ertz to rookie Eric Ebron, the names just keep coming for late-round sleepers.
Clay is definitely among that group, and he's also one that has a great chance of improving on a 2013 season, one in which he finished ranked as the seventh-best fantasy tight end. He was also one of just seven tight ends to register at least 100 targets, and he enters his fourth NFL season as one of Tannehill's favorites. He serves as an excellent late-round gamble if you don't end up getting one of the top-10 tight ends early on. If the Dolphins don't sign him to an extension, he'll also be in a contract year in 2014.
QB: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore
RB: Knowshon Moreno, Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas
WR: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Rishard Matthews, Jarvis Landry, Brandon Gibson
TE: Charles Clay, Dion Sims
K: Caleb Sturgis
Center Mike Pouncey could miss the start of the season after offseason hip surgery, which further hurts this offensive line.
The biggest offensive impact won’t come from the Moreno signing, but instead the offensive linemen they’ve drafted and signed. Know that only 12 wide receivers were targeted more than Wallace (141) last season. If Tannehill can get time, he can make better decisions and better passes, which bodes well for both players.
There’s also a great possibility that Landry gets a lot of time in the slot in his rookie season, which could make him a sleeper in rookie drafts.
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The Dolphins defense had plenty of good games and plenty of bad games last season. It definitely slowed down as the season wore on, but it did have four games with four or more sacks in 2013, and two games with three or more forced turnovers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an opportunistic D/ST, with just two defensive touchdowns all season. That’s a very difficult stat to predict, but a good defense with some lucky pick-sixes could work as a nice fantasy sleeper.
Miami replaced half of its secondary, bringing in CB Cortland Finnegan and FS Louis Delmas, but the core of this defense remains the same. The Dolphins play three of the top-10 offenses (Patriots, Packers and Bears) in the first six games, but they also have several soft games on the schedule, including those against the Jaguars and Jets.