2019 Dolphins fantasy football team preview: Where's the value?

Liz Loza

The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the end of July as training camps open. We’ll tackle pressing season-long fantasy questions, Best Ball tips (new on Yahoo for 2019) and team win totals. Next up, the Miami Dolphins.

Well, even though on the surface the Miami Dolphins look like they’re actively tanking, they did make a trade to bring in quarterback Josh Rosen (oh, and they signed a suddenly #thicc Ryan Fitzmagic).

No one truly expects the Dolphins to be actually competitive in 2019, but that doesn’t mean they’re a complete and utter fantasy wasteland.

Miami Dolphins fantasy impact players
Miami Dolphins fantasy impact players

How soon will the Josh Rosen “era” begin?

Josh Rosen, dealt from Arizona to Miami during the NFL Draft, is a brand new man. OVER or UNDER 10.5 starts in his first season with the ‘Fins?

Brad: OVER. Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose birthday cake diet did him no favors, is a placeholder and nothing more. Miami, admittedly, is in rebuilding mode. Acquiring Rosen for a second-round pick in last month’s draft was the first step in organization attempting to regain some level of respectability.

With that approach in mind, it’s inevitable that Rosen, off a disastrous rookie season in Arizona, will get a chance to prove his worthiness, presumably starting Week 1. If that occurs, don’t bank on him to be productive even in SuperFlex formats. The Cardinals’ line shouldered some blame, but even in clean pockets Rosen was largely tepid, posting an 80.9 passer rating and 6.5 yards per attempt. Sans much surrounding talent, his struggles are bound to continue.

Liz: OVER. Rosen fell to the Dolphins in a way that was equal parts unprecedented and miraculous. Before grabbing the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft, however, Miami had settled for 36-year-old journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. I never bought the “organic tanking” rumors that surfaced in early February, but landing on a potential value like Rosen can certainly force a change in goal-setting and strategy. New HC Brian Flores has been adamant about Rosen needing to “earn” the starting job, which is why he’ll make sure that happens.

Rosen’s 2018 numbers were awful, but so were his circumstances. From a pass-protecting unit that was ranked 28th by Football Outsiders to being hamstrung by an ineffective offensive coordinator that was fired ONE week before the team’s bye, it make sense that Rosen would hold on to the ball too long, get dance-y in the pocket, and fall into a habit of making “hero” throws.

In Miami, however, he’ll have a fresh start. While the offensive line remains in flux and the talent surrounding Rosen is far from elite, he should benefit from the stability that QBs coach Jim Caldwell (who has elevated the careers of both Joe Flacco and Matthew Stafford) and OC Chad O’Shea provide. Interestingly, O’Shea is a former QB and Belichick acolyte, who said well-before April that his offensive philosophy is about “identify(ing) the skill sets of the players” and how the team can “utilize (those) skill sets to be a productive offense.”

Make no mistake, the team is rebuilding. But they’re going to try to rebuild behind Rosen. He’s not going to be a fantasy producer just yet and he’s only my QB28 heading into the 2019 season, but there is room for future optimism.

Will Kenyan Drake finally be unleashed?

Among rushers with at least eight games played, Kenyan Drake finished RB24 in 2018. Under newly installed head coach Brian Flores, will he finish HIGHER or LOWER this season?

Andy: Well, my ranks have him somewhat LOWER, at RB26 in half-PPR formats. Fantasy owners need to think of him as a back-end RB2 who will probably never carry you to a win in any week. He’s tied to a dreadful/tanking offense and he’ll run behind an unimpressive line. Drake figures to lead Miami’s backfield in touches, but he’s not likely to be a true featured runner. Considering the team context, 1,000 scrimmage yards and 5-7 TDs is all you can reasonably expect.

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Brad: SLIGHTLY HIGHER. It’s clear Adam Gase’s popping eyes were too busy chasing tacos instead of spending time watching Drake last season. Under the coach’s watch, the rusher was criminally underutilized. He netted just 45.7 percent of the opportunity share, impressively forcing a missed tackle 23.3 percent of the time. His versatility, plus receiving skills and wiggle should award him majority touches under Brian Flores.

Yes, Kalen Ballage will supplant him roughly 8-10 times per game, Miami’s offensive line is dreadful (No. 28 in run-blocking efficiency per Pro Football Focus in ‘18) and negative game scripts will be common, but Drake tallying 60 percent of the opportunity share is reachable. Do that and he’s a back-end RB2 in .5 PPR.

Best Ball Bargain Bin

Brad: MIKE GESICKI. Not completely unexpected, Gesicki whimpered in his first season totaling 22 receptions for 202 yards and zero touchdowns. Still, blessed with Incredible Hulk-like athleticism (97th percentile SPARQ score), he owns the necessary tools. If Rosen, who targeted TEs 74 times with Arizona, advances his game, Gesicki has decent odds of becoming fantasy viable.

Liz: I dig Brad’s choice of GESICKI, as Rosen could benefit from a big and athletic TE bailing him out over the middle of the field. I also think the Penn State product has a better chance of growing in O’Shea’s seemingly more flexible scheme than Adam Gase’s offensive dictatorship.

Another player to keep an eye on is, of course, ALBERT WILSON. It’s entirely conceivable that the pint-sized YAC monster (9.5 yds/tgt), who is coming off a hip injury, doesn’t start the season, but his big play potential deserves a mention. Scoring four times in seven games last year, the Reception Perception-favorite could very well blast past defenders on his way to a pair of multi-touchdown contests in 2019.

Mad Bets (Via FanDuel Sportsbook): Miami 4.5 wins OVER (-110) or UNDER (-110)

Andy: This team is constructed to challenge for the top overall draft pick in 2020 (and 2021). It’s a roster with few building blocks and minimal talent at the skill spots. Gimme the UNDER.

Brad: UNDER. The ‘Fins sport the 13th-easiest schedule based on Vegas-set projections, but with a multitude of holes and an overall miserable roster, it’s hard seeing anything more than four wins.

More Fantasy Team Previews

AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots

NFC East: Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Washington

AFC South: Colts | Texans | Jaguars | Titans

NFC South: Buccaneers | Saints | Panthers | Falcons

AFC North: Bengals | Steelers | Ravens | Browns

NFC North: Lions | Vikings | Packers | Bears

AFC West: Chiefs | Chargers | Raiders | Broncos

NFC West: Rams | Cardinals | 49ers | Seahawks

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