2020 Miami Dolphins Fantasy Team Preview: New Look Offense Has Something to Prove in Wide-Open AFC East

SI Fantasy's Team Preview series from high-stakes legend Shawn Childs aims to break down the Miami Dolphins to evaluate the offense, defense, coaches and everyone in between with a fantasy-slanted analysis.
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Coaching Staff

After a slow start (0-7) in his rookie season as a head coach, Brian Flores saved his job by winning five of his final nine games. The Miami Dolphins started the year by being outscored 162 to 26 over the first four contests.

Flores worked in New England’s system for 15 years with a variety of jobs. Over the last eight seasons with the Patriots, he worked on the defensive side of the ball as a defensive assistant, safeties coach, and linebackers coach. Flores has been a part of four Super Bowl winnings teams and seven AFC Championships.

After retiring for three years, Miami coaxed Chan Gailey into taking over their offensive for 2020. He struggled over his five seasons as a head coach (34-46) while making the playoffs in 1998 and 1999 for the Cowboys. Gailey coached in the NFL for 26 seasons, with nine years coming as an offensive coordinator.

Last year Miami ranked 25th in points scored (306) and 27th in offensive yards, which was an improvement from 2018 (30th in points scored – 319 and 31st in offensive yards).

Josh Boyer takes over as the defensive coordinator after working last year as a cornerbacks coach while handling the defensive pass game responsibilities. He worked with Brian Flores in New England for 13 seasons.

The Dolphins allowed a league-high 494 points, which was 61 more than 2018. They also slipped a notch in yards allowed (30th).

Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovailoa (RANK - ADP)

Last year Tagovailoa was on a higher path after nine games (2,840 passing yards with 33 TDs and three Ints) than Joe Burrow, but his season ended in mid-November with a significant hip injury and a broken nose. In Week 8 of the season, he passed for 418 yards with four TDs and one Int against LSU, but Burrow (393/3) won the game 46-41.

Tagovailoa had an exceptional TD: INT ratio (87:11) in college with strength in his completion rate (70.0) over his last 24 games.

Last year Miami climbed to 12th in passing yards despite gaining only 6.7 yards per pass attempt. The Dolphins decided to improve their offensive line rather than investing in more offensive talent with the other draft picks over the first two rounds in this year’s draft.

Tagovailoa is a high ceiling player that needs to shine for Miami to become a powerhouse again in the AFC East. His upgrades at wide receiver should come over the next couple of drafts or via free agency.

The Dolphins don’t have enough talent in the passing game for Tagovailoa to hit the ground running. I gave him 93 percent of the quarterback snaps in the first run of the projections, but that number could be lower if Ryan Fitzpatrick gets in the way early in the year. For now, Tagovailoa is projected for 3,908 combined yards with 21 touchdowns.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

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Running Backs

Jordan Howard (RANK - ADP)

Howard held off RB Miles Sanders for the first nine games, but he failed to rush for over 100 yards in any week. From Week 4 to Week 9, Howard gained 476 combined yards with six TDs and seven catches highlighted by one explosive game (115 combined yards with three TDs and three catches). His season ended with a shoulder issue, costing him the final seven weeks.

Over his first three seasons in the NFL, Howard gained 3,938 combined yards with 25 TDs and 72 catches over 47 games. He averaged 283 touches per year with most of his big-play ability coming in his rookie season (14 gains of 20 yards or more).

Miami brought him in to upgrade their dismal success on early downs (297/962/7 – 3.2 yards per rush). The Dolphins also traded for RB Matt Breida on draft day, which points to him being a change of pace player and any higher upside in the passing game.

I have him projected for 958 combined yards with about five TDs and 22 catches on 215 touches. I expect his value to rise this summer, and Howard may end up with a floor of 240 chances in 2020.

Matt Breida, Kalen Ballage & Myles Gaskin

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Wide Receivers

DeVante Parker

It only took five seasons and a sharp kid from Harvard to figure how to get Parker the damn ball. He set career-highs in catches (72) receiving yards (1,202), touchdowns (9), and targets (128), highlighted by his play over the final seven games (39/733/5 – 7/135, 7/159/2, 4/72/2, 5/111/1, and 8/137)). Parker showed growth in his catches over 20 (21) and 40 yards (7) over his previous 39 games (27 and 7) in 2019. The Dolphins extended his contract in mid-December, which puts him at the services of rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa for the next four years. Chemistry is a big part of football, but it could be gone after one excellent season. Torn here, I want to believe, but I can’t get past his slow start to his career.

I set his bar at 76 catches for 1,063 yards and six TDs in the first round of projections.

WRs Preston Williams, Albert Wilson & Allen Hurns

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Tight Ends

Mike Gesicki (RANK - ADP)

After playing well in two (5/79/1 and 6/82/2) of his final five games, Gesicki climbed to 12th in TE scoring (137.0) in PPR leagues in 2019. His season started with only 15 catches for 153 yards and no TDs over seven games. Based on his play over his final two seasons (48/679/5 and 57/563/9), his ceiling should rise when Miami creates more offense in the passing game. Borderline fantasy starter, but I wouldn't fight for him based on his ADP.

His first projections came to 58 catches for 615 yards and four touchdowns.

Defense

The Dolphins finished last year 27th in rushing yards allowed (2,166). Opponents averaged 30.9 rushes per game, which led to 4.5 yards per carry with 15 TDs. Miami only allowed nine runs over 20 yards (tied for 12th in the NFL).

Their pass defense gave up a league-high 39 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and only 23 sacks. The Dolphins ranked 26th in passing yards allowed (4,198) with quarterbacks gaining 8.0 yards per pass attempts (68 completions allowed over 20 yards).

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In the premium outlook, on defense you'll find write-ups for DT Davon Godchaux, DE Christian Wilkins, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Raekwon McMillan, LB Jerome Baker, LB Emmanuel Ogbah, CB Xavien Howard, CB Byron Jones and S Eric Rowe.

Team Defense Outlook

The second starting safety option for the Dolphins looks to be in flux with rookie Brandon Jones possibly having the best chance to earn the starting job. His game can be hit or miss when facing more talented players.

This defense has talent in the secondary with a reasonable core at linebacker. The Dolphins' lack of impact pass rushers does lengthen the passing window on some plays. I expect better play defending the run. Overall, moving in the right direction, but they still need playmakers to create turnovers—only a waiver wire fantasy defense with possible matchup value. 

Free Agency, Draft, Offensive Line, Offensive Schedule & Defensive Schedule

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