Entering 2015 with high expectations, the Dolphins quickly became shark chum. Underwhelming performances on both sides of the ball dragged down the franchise. With Adam Gase now behind the wheel, there’s renewed optimism on South Beach. In this edition of ‘The Stance,’ Brad Evans and Liz Loza layer the sunscreen and soak up various fantasy situations in Miami.
Not long ago, Jay Ajayi was a popular breakout candidate. However, Arian Foster’s signing July 18 greatly complicated matters. Though Ajayi is still very affordable at his 60.8 (RB23) ADP, should owners PANIC or exercise PATIENCE with the sophomore RB?
Liz – PATIENCE. Take a deep breath and don’t buy into the knee-jerk narrative. Foster’s addition doesn’t necessarily reflect the team’s confidence in Ajayi. In fact, Foster admitted that, at this point in his career, he’s a better receiving back than between the tackles grinder. Meanwhile, rookie Kenyan Drake has underwhelmed in minicamp, and suffered a hamstring injury (which has been a recurring issue throughout his career).
It’s very likely that Foster was signed to a one-year deal in order to exist as a stopgap during Drake’s evolution as a pro. While I expect the vet to receive 6-8 carries per contest, the bulk of his touches will be in the passing game. The majority of fantasy sheep will back away from Ajayi and cause his ADP to drop, but the savvy mangers will see his value and pounce.
Brad – PANIC. Freak the (expletive) out, Ajayi zealots. Yes, there are no guarantees with Foster, an elderly running back coming off an injury with an uncertain history, but, if the former multi-time Pro Bowler exhibits even 75 percent the back he was with Houston I’m confident he will lead the Dolphins in touches. That is, if the notorious imp doesn’t snack on his tendons.
Gase sent a clear message to Ajayi in June minicamp, improve your pass protection and routes or land on the bench. The organization’s persistent courting of Foster is a major clue it’s lacking confidence the sophomore back will come around. The veteran may only receive 8-10 carries per game, but 4-6 receptions per contest are entirely likely. Because of Ajayi’s presumed short leash, it would be no surprise he’s one fumble or botched play away from the second fiddle.
Foster’s appearance in preseason games will determine exactly how viable he is, but I have a sneaky suspicion he will eventually surpass the overrated Ajayi on the team’s depth chart.
Typically, when Jarvis Landry’s name is listed at the top of the “undrafted” listed a deep-seated apathy boils to the surface. Despite his marvelous 111-1159-4 effort last year, many fantasy players express skepticism he can sustain anywhere close to that level of production. FILL IN THE BLANK: Landry finishes with a ________ line (TGT-REC-YDS-TDS). Explain.
Liz – 95-1,048-5
From a measurables perspective, there’s nothing flashy about Landry’s game. He’s not big. Nor does he have blazing speed. What he does have, however, are deft route running skills and sticky hands. A security blanket for Ryan Tannehill over the past two seasons, Landry’s targets are likely to decrease in 2016. Yes, I expect DeVante Parker and Jordan Cameron to take on bigger roles, especially in the red area of the field. But that’s never been part of Landry’s game anyway.
Not built to be a true No. 1 receiver, Landry’s efficiency should improve with Parker (and the other members of Miami’s growing corps) attracting more defensive attention. In fact, when Parker started to come on over the last six games of 2015, Landry had some of his most productive outings, averaging over 19 yards more per game than he had over the first 10 weeks of the season. As frustrating as Landry’s usage may be for tape grinders and #TeamTallReceiver, his production is likely to hold steady in 2016.
Brad – 101-1089-7 (6 receiving, 1 rushing)
There’s a strange anti-Landry group that currently operates in FantasyLand. For weeks, they’ve spewed unnecessary venom at the wideout, telling advice seekers to stay far, far away. Advising people to disregard a young receiver coming off a 167-111-1159-4 campaign is sheer lunacy. Yes, his unsightly contested catch rate (No. 51 at WR) and 6.9 yards per target (No. 80) raise eyebrows, but he’s a multidimensional asset who is sure to cross the 150-targets line. And though he only found the end zone five times in total last year, he tallied 30.7 percent of Miami’s red-zone target share. In other words, if he lures another 20 plus looks within striking distance, it’s unlikely he’ll deliver another suppressed TD number.
Don’t let measurable militants convince you otherwise. If Landry is sitting there around pick No. 30 in standard, or especially PPR, pounce.
Anticipation is elevated for Devante Parker to take a sizable step in Year 2. OVER/UNDER final fantasy rank among WRs for the wideout this season 30.5. (OVER means outside top-30. Under means inside.)
Liz – UNDER. After getting healthy and acclimating to the pros, Parker flashed big play ability down the stretch, scoring 3 TDs over the season’s last six contests. Averaging nearly four catches per game and 19 yards per reception in his rookie campaign, the Louisville product is in line to grab 65 balls for over 1,000 yards and 7 or 8 scores in his sophomore effort. Those numbers should place him in low-end WR2 territory, among the top 20 – 25 fantasy players at the position.
Brad – UNDER. Once the kid gloves were removed, Parker flourished over the season’s second half. On approximately 90 percent of Miami snaps he churned out a 42-22-445-3 line Weeks 12-17, displaying remarkable downfield ability (20.5 yards per catch). Extrapolate that output over a 16-game stretch (58-1186-8) and you’re talking Sammy Watkins territory.
Ryan Tannehill and his deep-ball inaccuracy will continue to be a hindrance, but Parker’s explosiveness and undaunted demeanor in traffic (No. 19 in contested catch rate among WRs) suggest he will win many battles. If everything clicks, he should finish around 65-1000-7, a level of production in line with back-end WR2s.