Kenny Stills had a breakout season of sorts for Miami in 2016, leading all receivers in touchdowns scored. With the Dolphins continuing to grow and obtain offensive weapons, however, Stills looks to be the player most likely to see a decline in production.
The Miami Dolphins are starting to become one of the better offenses in the NFL. Given that their defense had continued to struggle throughout last season, the offense deserves much of the credit for the team getting to double-digit wins and the playoffs. Miami spent the majority of the NFL Draft addressing their defense, but they’ve worked the offseason getting even better on the offensive side as well.
Miami started out by trading for TE Julius Thomas, reuniting him with head coach Adam Gase. Gase has wanted to get his tight ends more involved in the offense, and Thomas was in desperate need for a change of scenery. The hope is that he can be similar to the player he was in Denver when Gase was offensive coordinator.
Shortly thereafter, Anthony Fasano was signed to return to Miami where he spent five seasons between 2008-2012. When Fasano was with the Dolphins he was a legit pass receiver, recording 23 touchdowns during that frame. Since his departure, however, he has become more known as a blocker than anything else. As one of the better blocking tight ends in the league that’s not expected to change, but don’t be so sure that Gase won’t involve him in the passing game as well.
At wide receiver, the Dolphins have a logjam of talent. Isaiah Ford and Drew Morgan are the new faces, and will be competing for roster spots. Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant still need to prove themselves after lackluster rookie seasons, but both still have potential. It remains to be seen how many receivers Gase decides to go with to open the season, but the truth is, Miami is going to have to cut at least one talented receiver.
All of those guys will be fighting for spots behind Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills. This will be the third season this trio has been together, and as a unit, they’ve looked better and better by each game. There’s only so much production to go around, however, and with a potential huge season for RB Jay Ajayi, who could see 350 carries this season if Adam Gase gets his way, one of these guys is likely to see their numbers drop. The most likely candidate to see a dip in production is Kenny Stills.
More from Dolphins News
- 4 offensive tackles Miami Dolphins could draft at 51
- Miami Dolphins don’t need CB help but these 5 could be available at 51
- 4 players that could replace Wilkins if Miami Dolphins don’t re-sign him
- Miami Dolphins have a starting point with Wilkins after Simmons deal
- The Miami Dolphins should not take a running back in the draft
After a woeful first season with Miami, Stills was phenomenal in 2016. Even though he finished with just 42 receptions on the season, nine of those impressively went for touchdowns, leading all receivers in scores. The Dolphins had drafted Carroo in case Stills did not pan out, but he proved his worth, and was rewarded with a hefty contract.
At many times, Stills looked like the clear #2 receiver behind Landry. Parker, who battled injuries and was often inconsistent, failed to breakout into the player the Dolphins still hope that he can be in his sophomore season. This year looks like it could be the year, however, and that is likely to have an impact on Stills’ numbers.
With such a limited amount of receptions, Stills was never considered a priority fantasy start at any point of 2016. Not yet surpassing 1,000-yards receiving in five seasons, Stills has never been considered a top fantasy option. His nine touchdowns last year, however, made Stills an intriguing play, particularly, for daily fantasy leagues.
The breakout potential of Parker this year is expected to dip into Stills’ opportunities, and damper his fantasy value even further. James Walker of ESPN agrees that the potential emergence of Parker will play a factor, and lower Stills’ production across the board.
If Stills does see a decline in his production as projected, there will be some that will look at his new contract, and question his work ethic now that he’s been paid. Only Dolphins fans, however, and maybe Saints fans, truly understand what impact Stills brings to your team.
Stills is one of the best deep threats across the league, and is broadening his game as an all-around receiver. His route running was one of the reasons the Dolphins targeted him in the first place. He’s only gotten better at it, making clear as to why he’s become a favorite of Ryan Tannehill‘s. Teams are forced to respect Stills’ speed and ability, knowing that he could break one at any moment if they make a mistake.
That kind of respect will open up opportunities for Parker and others. With Landry still expected to lead the team in receptions as Tannehill’s primary target, and the insane workload that Gase wants to get Ajayi, there’s only so much to go around.
That doesn’t mean that Stills will go into obscurity, and become nonexistent similar to how he looked in 2015. Joe Philbin is not the coach here anymore, and Gase understands how important Stills is to this offense – it just may not show on the scorecard. Stills may not have an impact on your fantasy team this year, but he’ll continue to be a major impact for the Dolphins, and in the end, that’s all that matters.