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Offseason Primers: Miami Dolphins

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Dolphins had an interesting season in 2012. It started with HBO's Hard Knocks and ended with a respectable 7-9 campaign. The new coaching staff under Joe Philbin proved competent, and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill made plenty of strides.

Now, the Dolphins have the chance to take the next step. The key will be the additions made this offseason with the Dolphins adding receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller.

2012 Touches Leaders
944 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Reggie Bush 262 (227 car., 35 rec.) 27.7%
Daniel Thomas 106 (91 car., 15 rec.) 11.2%
Brian Hartline 74 rec. 7.8%
Davone Bess 61 rec. 6.4%
Lamar Miller 57 (51 car., 6 rec.) 6.0%
All Others 384 40.6%

Tannehill needed weapons after he had 3,294 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and 48 carries for 214 yards and two touchdowns with eight fumbles. Adding some receiver help -- Brian Hartline and Davone Bess combined for two touchdowns as the starters -- is the biggest need, and Wallace, Gibson and Keller should help tremendously. Tannehill might also see time in the read-option offense, which would enhance his skill set and help his Fantasy value. He could end up as a reliable No. 2 Fantasy quarterback with upside.

Finding a starting running back is also important. Reggie Bush is off to Detroit this year, and the Dolphins have to decide if Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas is the answer as the No. 1 option in the backfield (we like Miller as the favorite). Bush had consecutive seasons of at least 1,200 total yards and seven touchdowns, so whoever starts for the Dolphins has potential as a No. 2 Fantasy running back.

Lamar Miller -- Sleeper

2012 Target Leaders
504 pass attempts
Brian Hartline 131 25.9%
Davone Bess 105 20.8%
Anthony Fasano 69 13.6%
Reggie Bush 52 10.3%
Charles Clay 33 6.5%
All Others 114 22.6%

If the Dolphins don't bring in a big-named talent at running back then the backfield tandem in Miami will be Miller and Thomas, with Miller the expected starter. That bodes well for his Fantasy value. Miller had an unimpressive rookie season playing behind Bush and Thomas. He finished 2012 with 51 carries for 250 yards and one touchdown and six catches for 45 yards. But he has the skill-set to take off, which should have Fantasy owners excited. There's also production to be had in this backfield since Bush had consecutive seasons of at least 1,200 total yards and seven touchdowns. Going into the season, we consider Miller a low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 Fantasy running back with upside, and he's worth drafting with a pick as early as Round 4 or 5. He should be on most sleeper lists, and the Dolphins are in love with Miller's playmaking ability. He could end up as a quality Fantasy option if he opens the season as the starter.

Reggie Bush -- Player on the move

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Ryan Tannehill Undrafted
Lamar Miller 45-53 overall
Daniel Thomas 130-137 overall
Mike Wallace 63-69 overall
Brian Hartline 140-148 overall
Davone Bess Undrafted
Brandon Gibson Undrafted
Dustin Keller Undrafted

Bush signed with the Lions this offseason, and he's expected to share playing time with Mikel Leshoure. But make no mistake, Bush is the new starter for the Lions, and he has a lot of upside. Bush showed he can be a featured running back for the Dolphins. In 2011, Bush had a career season with 216 carries for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns and 43 catches for 296 yards and a score. He followed that up with a career-high 227 carries for 986 yards and six touchdowns and 35 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Now, Bush goes to a Lions team that should involve him more as a receiver. He has at least 43 catches in five of seven years, and we know the Lions love to throw the ball. We still view Bush as a No. 2 Fantasy running back with upside, and he could total 1,500 total yards with about six touchdowns. He is worth drafting in all formats in Round 3 with the potential to be drafted in Round 2 in PPR leagues. This could be a big year for Bush in Motown.

Ryan Tannehill -- Late-round flier

Tannehill was part of the successful rookie quarterback class of 2012, but he was at the back of the room, well behind Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson when it came to performance. Tannehill had his moments with four games with at least 20 Fantasy points, but he had six games with eight points or less. We expect Tannehill to improve in 2013, especially with the upgrade the Dolphins had to their receiving corps. The Dolphins also want to use Tannehill in the read option more, which should showcase his running ability. Tannehill should be considered a low-end No. 2 Fantasy quarterback to open the season, but he's someone to keep your eye on. He might not get drafted in the majority of leagues, but he could turn into a quality playmaker as the season goes on.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Jamaal Charles' return a last hurrah for Knile Davis?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:46 am ET) The good news is Knile Davis delivered his second straight 100-yard game even with star running back Jamaal Charles back on the field Week 4 against New England. The bad news is Charles looked so good himself that Davis may not have a shot at another.

Only two weeks removed from a high ankle sprain that seemed certain to sideline him for weeks to come, Charles scored three touchdowns -- one on the ground and two through the air -- and was consistent with his 18 carries, the longest going for 17 yards. He acknowledged some soreness afterward but gave no reason to believe he won't be back out there Week 5 at San Francisco.

In fact, if not for a big lead in the second half, he might have been out there longer in Week 4. Of Davis' 16 carries, 11 came in the second half. He played 43 percent of the Chiefs' snaps to Charles' 54 percent.

If Week 5 ends up being a closer game -- and it most likely will be -- the Chiefs may not ask Davis to spell Charles as much. While you're no doubt pleased with your decision to stick with the backup despite Charles' return, you may have simply lucked out. Davis remains as good as a of a handcuff option as you'll find in Fantasy, but you should plan to bench him for the foreseeable future.


Brandon LaFell taking advantage of his shot
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:42 am ET) On a team that is utterly bereft of receiving options, Brandon LaFell has emerged as Tom Brady's favorite target over the last two games. Should Fantasy owners be buying into his new role?

LaFell has been targeted 18 times over the last two games, including 10 times during his six-catch, 119-yard performance in Week 4. He also hauled in his first touchdown of the season Monday, a 44-yard catch and run during which he showed the kind of playmaking the Patriots' offense has sorely missed this season.

LaFell has been targeted at least six times in three of four games this season, and was one of just two offensive players to log all 50 snaps in Week 4. He has clearly earned a significant role on the team, but there are enough questions about just how effective the Patriots' passing game is at this point that it will be hard to rely on him for Fantasy purposes. 

In a perfect world, LaFell would be the team's third option in the passing game, but things have been decidedly not perfect for the Patriots so far. LaFell is owned in just 7 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, so he is worth adding at this point in many leagues, even if he might not be a dependable starter. 


Eric Decker ahead of where he was last week
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:41 am ET) Jets receiver Eric Decker emerged from Sunday's game without aggravating his hamstring injury. "He felt better [Monday] than he did this time last week," coach Rex Ryan told ESPN.com.

Decker caught four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Detroit. He'll visit the Chargers in Week 5.


Rob Gronkowski a boom-or-bust option
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:34 am ET) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski found the end zone for the third time in four games, and he salvaged a subpar showing for the third time in four games as a result. Still, there are real questions about how much more he is capable of at this point.

Gronkowski has played a limited role in his return from knee surgery. Even Monday, when he played his largest role of the season, he was on the field for just 62 percent of the team's snaps. He still had just three passes thrown his way, a troubling sign -- especially since his touchdown came after backup Jimmy Garoppolo entered the game.

Gronkowski is still the best weapon in the Patriots' passing game, which is a concern if you are a Tom Brady owner as well. At this point, he clearly is not the same guy we have seen in the past, and it is hard to say when, or if, he might be that guy. The Patriots are going to keep looking for Gronkowski in the red zone, which might help him salvage a few more games and possibly even his season.

However, Gronkowski ranks just 14th among tight ends in yards right now, making him very much a boom-or-bust option until he gets back to full strength. 


Andy Reid wants to keep Knile Davis involved
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:33 am ET) Despite Jamaal Charles' return from an ankle injury, Chiefs coach Andy Reid indicated running back Knile Davis will continue to get substantial work. Davis has run for 239 yards the past two weeks.

"They're both explosive players," Reid told ESPN.com. "They're completely different players, but they're both explosive players. That makes my job easy. Just give them the ball."


Still some questions for Travis Kelce
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:17 am ET) Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who caught the attention of Fantasy owners with his big-play ability in the preseason and showed flashes of it through the first three weeks, finally turned in the performance everyone was hoping to see Week 4 against New England, emerging as quarterback Alex Smith's favorite target after playing just a peripheral role in the passing game earlier in the year.

Is it validation that Kelce is a starting-caliber tight end in Fantasy? I'd say so. He now has two games with 80-plus receiving yards and two touchdowns in a span of four weeks, making him the eighth-best tight end in standard CBSSports.com scoring. That says a lot right there.

But is he so good that you should feel comfortable shopping Jimmy Graham if you happen to own both? I'm not ready to make that leap. For one thing, the Chiefs passing game isn't the most stable in the league. A different player has led the team in targets each week. For another, Kelce doesn't see the field all that much -- at least not like we're used to seeing from the league's top tight ends. He played only 52 percent of the team's snaps Monday, down from 65 percent in Week 3. He played less than 40 percent of their snaps each of the first two weeks.

Because the Chiefs are lacking a standout wide receiver, I believe that number is more likely to rise than fall going forward. But until we see that it is rising consistently, Kelce remains a solid but not especially high-end starter at tight end.


Redskins add Gabe Miller in roster tweaks
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:14 am ET) The Redskins signed linebacker Gabe Miller and nose tackle Robert Thomas to their practice squad and released defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo from the squad.

Carson Palmer's shoulder issues not solved
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:09 am ET) Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said the bruised nerve in his throwing shoulder hasn't progressed as much as he had hoped, but still thinks he can show coaches he's capable of starting Week 5 at Denver, reports ESPN's Ed Werder. Drew Stanton has started the past two games and could face the Broncos if Palmer can't practice fully this week.

It is time to sit Tom Brady
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:08 am ET) We all mostly assumed Tom Brady's 2013 season was an aberration, right? Sure, he posted his lowest touchdown total and yards per attempt mark since 2006, but hey, he didn't have Rob Gronkowski to throw to! So, what's the excuse now?

With Gronkowski playing a higher percentage of the snaps than any game prior, Brady still put up a dud on Monday night against the Chiefs, in the worst showing of an already disappointing season. He has now failed to even reach 15 Fantasy points in his first four games this season, and is off to the worst start of his career.

Even in his disappointing 2013 campaign, Brady had 75 Fantasy points through four games, compared to 43 after Monday's 6-point effort. It isn't all on Brady of course, as the Patriots' receiving corps beyond Gronkowski and Julian Edelman is pretty much a disaster -- though, of course, it isn't likely to get any better moving forward.

At this point, what looked to be an aberration is settling into the new reality. Brady's skills have slipped just enough that he can no longer make up for the subpar talent the organization has surrounded him with. And things won't get any easier for Brady in Week 5, with the Bengals on the schedule. No team has been stingier against opposing quarterbacks than the Bengals, who have allowed just two touchdowns through three games, with six total interceptions.

At this point, sitting Brady is a pretty easy call. In fact, the more pertinent question is whether the 26th-ranked Fantasy quarterback is still worth owning in 99 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. 


Jamaal Charles' ankle is sore after three-touchdown night
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:35 am ET) Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles said he felt good during the 41-14 win over the Patriots, but admitted afterward his injured ankle was sore, reports ESPN.com. "I'm ready to get off it and ice it up," he said.

Charles got 21 touches and scored three touchdowns, two receiving, in his first action since spraining his ankle Week 2. He'll play the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday.


 
 
 
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