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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Miami Dolphins

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Dolphins have the most unexciting team for Fantasy purposes heading into 2012. But that's what happens when an organization bereft of a franchise quarterback changes coaches and philosophy, trades its top receiver and basically becomes an unappealing place to play football.

Just look at their quarterback mess: Incumbent Matt Moore will battle veteran David Garrard and rookie Ryan Tannehill for the starting job. This lovely scenario came to pass after Peyton Manning, Alex Smith and Matt Flynn all declined the chance to play for the Dolphins in the span of a few weeks. And while Tannehill has some built-in advantages like already knowing the playbook as it's the same from his days at Texas A&M, several reports out of Dolphins camp say he's decidedly behind Moore and Garrard for the starter's gig.

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It's a good thing the Dolphins don't have any strong receivers that might struggle because of the suspect quarterback corps. After the team dealt wide receiver Brandon Marshall to Chicago for a pair of third-round draft picks, it was left with the likes of Davone Bess and Brian Hartline as the top receivers. That changed when the Dolphins signed Chad Ochocinco following his release from the Patriots, but there's some serious skepticism that he can regain his form from 2009 after bombing out with the Bengals in 2010 and New England last year. Sadly, he represents Miami's No. 1 threat.

The only believable playmaker on the roster right now is Reggie Bush, who was a very pleasant surprise last season. After years of working in a hybrid role in New Orleans, the Dolphins leaned on Bush as their primary running back and he set personal-bests in carries (216) and rush yards (1,086). He also finished the season healthy, which had been a problem for him in the past. New head coach Joe Philbin is bringing his up-tempo West Coast offense with him from Green Bay, and that could mean more of Bush as a receiver and a little less as a rusher. Either way, he's as safe as they get among the Dolphins for Fantasy because he'll stay involved so long as his knees let him.

The rest of the team is a huge question mark, and that extends to the defense. True, the Dolphins gave pass rusher Cameron Wake a huge contract extension and signed cornerback Richard Marshall. But after years of working in the 3-4 formation they're going back to the 4-3 shift. We've seen defenses in Green Bay and Houston move seamlessly from the 4-3 to the 3-4 but it's been a while since a defense made the switch the other way with success (the Patriots and Broncos both tried last year and had their struggles). Giving up on veteran safety Yeremiah Bell, who signed with the Jets, and spending four of their top five draft picks on the offense also hurts.

Here's the reality: The Dolphins know they're entering a rebuilding year. They hope they have their quarterback of the future in Tannehill and expect the defense to eventually turn itself around under the eye of coordinator Kevin Coyle. It would probably be considered a successful season if they finished 8-8.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Matt Moore ND
David Garrard ND
Ryan Tannehill ND
Running Backs
Reggie Bush 6
Daniel Thomas 12
Lamar Miller ND
Wide Receivers
Chad Ochocinco ND
Davone Bess ND
Brian Hartline ND
Tight Ends
Anthony Fasano ND
Michael Egnew ND
Kickers/Defense
Dan Carpenter 14
Dolphins DST ND
ND - not expected to get drafted

Bust ... Chad Ochocinco, wide receiver
A year ago, a good percentage of Fantasy owners drooled at the prospects of Ochocinco aligning with Tom Brady. Even our 2011 projections were respectable. What ended up happening was the further deterioration of a football player who had more entertaining Tweets than receptions (just 15 in 2011). Even after reportedly taking a pay cut this offseason the Patriots set Ochocinco free, and the Dolphins scooped him up. Given their lack of receiving talent, why not take the shot? Ochocinco has looked good in offseason workouts and claims he's learning the Dolphins playbook after reports surfaced that he didn't know what he was doing in New England. But in our game, stats are king, and Ochocinco has posted good stats once in the last four years -- 2009. If he couldn't bounce back with Brady in New England, what makes you think he'll bounce back with Moore/Garrard/Tannehill in Miami? Don't draft him.

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Bounce-back candidate ... Daniel Thomas, running back
We know Thomas has it in him -- just look at his Week 2 totals from 2011 when he ran for 107 yards on 18 carries, several of them nice gains, against a Texans defense that finished the year ranked fourth against the run. But hamstring issues combined with a lack of regular opportunities crushed Thomas' hopes of a breakout rookie season. Reggie Bush is coming off a big season and the Dolphins drafted Lamar Miller in April, but there's still hope for Thomas this season. He's entering camp healthy and with some added muscle, and the new zone blocking system the Dolphins will use is familiar to him from his days at Kansas State. And if Miami's passing game is going to be as weak as we imagine, they'll have to run a lot and as a result use more than one back. Thomas is a decent late-round pick as a handcuff to Bush, who is no stranger to the injury report.

Keeper-league target ... Michael Egnew, tight end
Promise. Potential. The Dolphins don't have a ton of players who can be described with these words, but Egnew is one of them. Egnew is a 6-foot-5, 250-pound behemoth in the Antonio Gates mold who terrorized defenses with his effective seam routes in college. He caught 50 passes last year and 90 the year before, and while his career receiving average at Mizzou wasn't very impressive (9.06 yards per catch), his size and hands are what everyone looking for the next matchup-nightmare tight end is looking for. There's a chance that Egnew could morph into someone worth using this season if he can assimilate himself with the first-team offense in training camp. Miami's lack of receiving threats greatly helps his cause.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@HOU OAK NYJ @ARI @CIN STL bye @NYJ @IND TEN @BUF SEA NE @SF JAC BUF @NE

It might not matter who the Dolphins face, their offense is such a mess that any defense can stuff them. Reggie Bush might not get as many touches as he did last season and he certainly won't have his receivers drawing coverage away from him. They'll also see a ton of big-play receivers in their road games, testing that boastful (but suspect) secondary.

Training camp topics

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Reggie Bush 216 carries, 43 catches
Daniel Thomas 165 carries, 12 catches
Brandon Marshall 81 catches, 1 carry
Davone Bess 51 catches, 2 carries
Brian Hartline 35 catches, 1 carry

The big battle is at quarterback. After offseason workouts and minicamp, Matt Moore and David Garrard have seemingly boxed out rookie Ryan Tannehill from opening the season under center, though it's obvious his time will eventually come. Moore had his moments last season in Miami, posting 20 Fantasy points (standard scoring) in four starts and throwing 16 touchdowns versus nine interceptions. Garrard didn't play in 2011, citing a back injury. He wasn't so bad in 2010 -- his last season of game action -- completing 64.5 pct. of his passes for a 7.47 yards per attempt average and a career-high 23 touchdowns. Whichever passer has the better camp will start the season as Miami's quarterback, though there's absolutely no guarantee that he'll finish as such, which crushes any potential value on Draft Day.

The other interesting pool of talent to check on is at wide receiver, and by interesting we really mean tragic. Ochocinco, Davone Bess and Brian Hartline headline the wideouts in Miami with the likes of Legedu Naanee, Roberto Wallace and Clyde Gates also battling for playing time. It's a list of names that wouldn't get into a South Beach hot spot much less a Fantasy Football roster. Three rookies -- B.J. Cunningham, Rishard Matthews and Jeff Fuller -- could push for some decent reps given the lack of impressive receivers in Miami.

And if their receiving corps lives up to its low expectations, the Dolphins will be forced to use their running backs plenty. How they choose to split up the work will be interesting to watch starting in training camp. Bush should be the featured guy and Thomas will be in the mix, but so might rookie Lamar Miller. A capable, versatile runner from the University of Miami, Miller's hands were on display in offseason workouts and the team has been toying with the idea of using him as a part-time receiver. Miller doesn't quite stack up like Darren Sproles or Bush physically but with the team desperate for help he could be used from time to time this season. A really good camp could put him neck and neck with Thomas as the No. 2 running back.

Injury update

David Garrard (back; probable for the start of training camp) ... Lamar Miller (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Davone Bess (knee; questionable for the start of training camp) ... Brian Hartline (appendectomy; probable for the start of training camp).

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Player News
Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders hoping to reach 1,000 yards
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:44 pm ET) Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders believes the new offensive scheme in Denver will effect his numbers, accoridng to the team's website.

Sanders is working with new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and coach Gary Kubiak to install the team's new offense and noted it's very different from last year's spread attack.

"You talk about going from a no-huddle offense to an offense that's huddling up, to an offense that is predicated off running a football and then throwing it. It's different," Sanders said. 

"It's a totally different set up, but I tell you what, the more and more I'm in it," said Sanders. "Because we can get the run game going and just use my vertical speed on cross routes and all these different combinations of routes is based off the play action, then I think the offense will be successful with Peyton Manning at the helm."

Sanders, who totaled 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014, doesn't think he'll accomplish the same numbers.

"Of course obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses, well I'm praying that it is, but obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses where you catch it and you're going to have two receivers catching over 100 passes," said Sanders. "Hopefully, my goal is really to try to get a 1,000 yards to just help this team win ball games."


Cowboys rookie La'el Collins taking reps at RT in OTAs
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:36 pm ET) Cowboys rookie offensive lineman La'el Collins started offseason team activities on Wednesday taking reps at right tackle, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Collins, who was signed as an undrafted free agent, could also see time at left guard. But the rookie is taking his first reps with the team at right tackle with Darrion Weems while Doug Free recovers from ankle surgery.

"We think he has the physical ability to play a couple of different spots," coach Jason Garrett said. "He was a tackle for most of his career in college but did play guard. We see him as a guy who can maybe do both of those things as he goes.

"The big thing for him is to try to get him acclimated as quickly as we can. So right now he's going to play right tackle for us. He and Darrion Weems are competing at that spot in Doug Free's absence and we'll just see how that unfolds." 


Vikings' Adrian Peterson on absence from OTAs: 'It's business'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:22 pm ET) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said in a statement on Wednesday that his absence from OTAs has "nothing to do with wanting to be traded," ESPN reports.

"The reason I'm not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It's about securing my future with the Vikings. It's business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings."

It was reported earlier Wednesday that coach Mike Zimmer said that Peterson could "either play for us or not play." The running back has expressed frustration with team management for not showing him support during his legal case for child abuse.


Report: Falcons' Dezmen Southward undergoes knee surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8:47 pm ET) Falcons defensive backs Dezmen Southward underwent a minor-knee operation Wednesday, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Southward did not attend Tuesday's OTA and it is not known how long he'll be sidelined.


Julius Thomas trying to fit into Jaguars' offense
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8:30 pm ET) Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas said after Wednesday's organized team activity that he intends to make it work with quarterback Blake Bortles, reports The Florida Times-Union.

"There is no 'Here's me coming in, and Blake's going to get on my page.' I'm going to be on Blake's page," Thomas said. "Whatever he expects, that's what I am going to do. He's the quarterback. He's the one in control of that huddle, and I like catching passes so I will make sure I do exactly what he wants."

With Thomas entering his first season with the Jaguars, he said it will take time to develop a rapport with Bortles.

"I think that getting good chemistry with a quarterback probably takes a couple of thousand passes," Thomas said.


Cowboys RB Darren McFadden not concerned with playing time
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7:38 pm ET) With the Cowboys just beginning their organized team activities this week, running back Darren McFadden said he just wants to concentrate on becoming familiar with the team, reports the team's official website.

"For me, I'm just going out there grinding," he said. "However the coaches put me out there – whether it's first team or second team. When it comes time for them to make a decision, it's totally up to them. I'm just trying to get that playbook down and take advantage of this opportunity."

McFadden is competing with Joseph Randle to be the first-team running back, and he said he just wants to work hard and not worry about how many repetitions he's receiving with the first team.

"Once you've been in a place so long like Oakland, you can get set in your ways," McFadden said Wednesday, after his second OTA practice with the Cowboys. "Coming out here and being around guys that work so hard, it just brings out the best in you. It's something I look forward to."


Chiefs' Mike Catapano on his health: I feel better than ever
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:41 pm ET) After missing the entire 2014 season with a gastrointestinal virus, Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano was able to participate in the team's OTA on Wednesday, reports The Kansas City Star.

"Every time I step on the field now it's with purpose and with extra vigor that I never really had," Catapano said. "It feels great. I feel better than ever."

Catapano played in 15 games during his rookie season in 2013 and he totaled four tackles and one sack. He said he's ready to surpass that in 2015.

"I'm ready to show that I offer a lot to this team. I'm ready to step up in big situations and starting situations," Catapano said. "I just want to keep getting better every day… and play to the best of my abilities."


Broncos' Manning, Sanders keeping up with Thomas during holdout
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:05 pm ET) Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is holding out of offseason workouts while he continues to negotiate a long-term deal with the team, but teammates Emmanuel Sanders and Peyton Manning have been keeping up with the star receiver, the Denver Post reports.

"One thing a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re playing on a one-year deal, there’s a lot of things going through your head," Sanders said. "As much as you guys want to say, ‘Don’t think about it,' of course it’s going to cross your mind because you’re talking about a lot of money at stake. When you’re playing these one-year deals, it’s a lot of stress on you. No matter how much you don’t want it to be, it’s going to happen. We’re all human."

Manning would like to have Thomas in workouts but understands the business aspects of his decision.

"I keep up with Demaryius. He’s my buddy," Manning said. "They got that business side of it to work out, but he’s been a great teammate to me, been a great friend to me since I’ve been here in Denver, so I keep up with him. Obviously want him to get back here as soon as possible, but we want what’s best for him, and he certainly deserves what’s best for him."

Thomas has started 16 games for three straight season, topping 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in each.


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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:30 pm ET) The Raiders have signed linebacker Horace Miller and wide receiver Milton Williams, the team announced on Wednesday.

Miller was waived by the Panthers earlier this offseason after spending one week on the active roster but seeing no playing time. Williams originally signed with the Raiders earlier this month before being waived a few days later.


Titans project DE DaQuan Jones as starter
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) Titans defensive end DaQuan Jones started the final game of his rookie season against the Colts and is on track to open the 2015 season in the same role, The Tennessean reports.

"He's a starter at end, it's what we project," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "In the last game against Indianapolis, Jones played really well."

A fourth-round pick out of Penn State, Jones finished his rookie season with 13 tackles and one sack, with the sack and more than half of his tackles coming in his lone start at the end of the year.


 
 
 
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