Can I Open My Eyes Yet?

Well I’ve basically been silent for the past two months, for no other reason than I had absolutely nothing to contribute to lockout talk. To be perfectly honest with you, I did not understand the lockout, what the holdup was, and why the two sides couldn’t just bit their tongues and come to an agreement. But I digress.

With the lockout almost over (fingers and toes crossed!), it is time for me to start getting excited for, in my opinion, the best thing about football season, fantasy football! (Yes, I like the fantasy season more than the actual one).

I’ve spent the better part of two months looking through the Dolphins roster, trying to figure out who they will bring in when free agency opens, and seeing who on this roster can help your virtual roster win your virtual championship.

*All players who have some value are ranked on a scale of 1-10 with 1 = waiver wire pickup perhaps to 10 = you need him if you want the championship. For the time being, I went with the current roster. I am aware players like Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams may not be on the roster in a few weeks, but I will update this as signings and trades happen.

Quarterback:

Chad Henne – 2

Henne has one thing going for him at the moment. The fact that it is almost August, and the Dolphins did not draft a QB in April, means he more than likely will go into camp as the starter. Even if the Dolphins bring somebody in via FA, Henne knows this offense and will have a leg up. He knows this is his final season to get it right, and that chip on his shoulder could make him dangerous. He certainly shouldn’t be on your radar come draft day, but keep him in your pocket as an mid-season waiver wire selection if he comes out strong.

Running Back:

Daniel Thomas – 7

The Dolphins have been raving about Thomas; his ability to be an every down back, to catch passes and his physicality, and there is no reason not to believe that Thomas could be the most productive first year player in terms of fantasy. The Dolphins love running the ball and they love their dump offs, so Thomas could be worth a fortune in both standard and PPR leagues. Right now, I would have him as a solid number two back with the potential of a number one. This could all change however, if the Dolphins go out and acquire an Ahmad Bradshaw or Reggie Bush, so check back.

Ronnie Brown- 6

This ranking really depends on where Brown ends up, which mostly everybody believes will not be Miami. Brown has suffered through some injury plagued seasons in Miami, but a change of scenery could inject some life into those legs. We do tend to forget that Brown did score 10 TD’s in 2008 and 8 TD’s in 2009, and he is only 29 years old, so there is some value there as long as he can stay healthy, and lands in the right situation. Definitely worthy of a mid-round selection.

Ricky Williams – 4

Basically the same situation as Brown, we need to wait and see where he ends up before truly valuing him. Ricky has obviously benefited from taking those few years off to go do ….whatever….but he is also only one year removed from a 1,121 yard, 11 TD season. But at the age of 34, you have to wonder if there is anything left. I wouldn’t pass over him if he is available in the later rounds of my draft, but no earlier.

Lex Hilliard – 2

We really still have absolutely no idea what we have in this kid, but if Brown and Williams leave and the Dolphins don’t bring in a big name free agent, Hilliard is suddenly right in the mix. He has shown some decent hands out of the backfield, with 20 receptions in 2009, so maybe there is some more for us to find. Somebody you obviously wouldn’t take a second look at without an injury, but good to think about, just in case.

Wide Receivers:

Brandon Marshall – 9

Off the field, Marshall has been a mess. Not surprisingly. You could call his first season with Miami a bust, only scoring 3 times, but he still managed over 1,000 yards and 86 receptions. I’m going to chalk it up to growing pains. Now that Marshall has had a year to work with Chad Henne, and with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll hopefully understanding what a weapon Marshall is (more than Dan Henning anyway), I can certainly see Marshall’s numbers creeping back up to Denver-esque. If Henne and Marshall can get on the same page this season, Marshall’s numbers will take off. Grab him early, plug him into your starting lineup, and leave him there.

Davone Bess – 8

My favorite receiver that nobody talks about, Bess has been underrated for too long. Bess is the reason most Dolphin fans don’t look at Wes Welker and cry. Bess has improved his catches, yards and touchdowns each season, and he’s proven to be one of the best slot receivers in the NFL. With so much attention being paid to Marshall, Bess is free to work the center of the field as he pleases, and he has become very apt at doing so. In PPR leagues, Bess is a solid number two and a solid number three in standard leagues as well. He could very well be the fantasy breakout star of the team this season.

Brian Hartline – 5

Hartline had a big 2009 before regressing in 2010 which ultimately ended with a trip to the IR in week 13. However this is only his third season as a pro and will more than likely start opposite of Marshall, which should give him a lot of opportunities. You probably won’t draft Hartline until late at best, but keep an eye on him if he starts strong.

Edmond Gates – 4

The rookie out of Abilene Christian was drafted for one reason and one reason only. The Dolphins were desperately seeking a speedster that could stretch the field, and that is what Gates was brought in to do. Gates ran a 4.37 at the combine, which he said was the slowest time he had ever run. Gates is raw, needs to work on his route-running and his ability to read defenses, but don’t be surprised if Gates turns out to be this years Johnny Knox or Mike Wallace. If Daboll opens up the offense, Gates will be the one that benefits. Keep your eye on him.

Tight End:

Anthony Fasano – 5

Nothing too flashy about Fasano. He does most things good, but not great. He’ll be good for between 4 and 6 touchdowns and around 500 yards receiving this season. I like Fasano because you can usually count on him week to week. With the top tier tight ends, you may get 20 points from them one week followed by 1 point the next. With Fasano, you can usually count on between 40 and 50 yards and possibly a touchdown. Great guy to grab if you miss out on the top tier guys.

Defense/Special Teams – 7

It nearly impossible to rank defense based on their stats from the previous seasons. But with the combination of Vontae Davis and Sean Smith on the outside, pass-rushing phenom Cameron Wake and a very stout defensive line, this is going to be a solid defensive unit.I like seventh round selection Jimmy Wilson and I’m curious to see how he develops as well. The Dolphins ranked sixth in total defense last season and were tenth in the league in sacks. If they can produce a few more turnovers than last season, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Kicker:

Dan Carpenter – 9

For the sake of our sanity, us Dolphans are probably hoping to see less of Carpenter from the 35 yard line, and more of him from the 2 yard line this season. Carpenter regressed from his 25-for-28 2009 campaign, hitting only 30-of-41 last season. However, 8 of those 30 were from 50 yards or more out, including a 60-yarder. Carpenter has the leg to hit from basically anywhere on the field. As kickers go, he is one of the most valuable. Especially with how often the Dolphins seem to have to kick.

Looking at the schedule:

In comparison with last season, the Dolphins do have a much easier go of it this year. While they do have to face the gauntlet of the Jets and Patriots twice, Miami has some quality matchups against Houston, Cleveland, Denver, Washington, Buffalo and Oakland. If those defenses play like they did in 2010, the Dolphins could be in for some huge offensive numbers.

It all starts with:

Chad Henne. This offense lives and dies with him. Henne is out of excuses this season. The team brought in Mike Pouncey to help shore up the offensive line, Edmond Gates to add some speed, and Daniel Thomas to be the every-down back. All the pieces are in place, and it’s time for Henne to step up. He showed some flashes of brilliance last season, but he was way too inconsistent. If Henne can’t get a decent rapport going with Marshall, Marshall will struggle, and so will the rest of the receiving core. I don’t see the Dolphins bringing in a game-changing quarterback, so this is Henne’s job to lose.

Sleeper:

Daniel Thomas. I know all the talk has been about which running back the Dolphins are going to bring in, but I don’t think it matters. They gave up a lot to get Thomas, and you don’t do that unless you expect big things from the kid. Even if the Dolphins bring in Reggie Bush, that would only be for a change of pace. Thomas is the guy in Miami. He is an every down back with power who can wear down a defense. If he is still available in your draft in the fifth round, I’d consider that a steal. I believe Thomas will be good for 10 TD’s and close to 1,000 yards this season.

Can you tell I’m excited for fantasy season to start? These rankings will change as free agency begins and players start working out and getting hurt. I’ll update as necessary.

And don’t forget to check out the Phin Phanatic fantasy leagues starting up. Come see if you can beat me and rest of the staff.

Good to be back!

 

Topics: Ahmad Bradshaw, Anthony Fasano, Brandon Marshall, Brian Daboll, Brian Hartline, Cameron Wake, Chad Henne, Dan Carpenter, Dan Henning, Daniel Thomas, Davone Bess, Defense/Special Teams, Edmond Gates, Fantasy Football, Fantasy Football 2011, Fantasy Football Rankings, Jimmy Wilson, Johnny Knox, Lex Hilliard, Lockout, Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins Roster, Michael Rosenbloom, Mike Wallace, Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, Schedule, Sean Smith, Sleeper, Vontae Davis, Wes Welker

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