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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Miami Dolphins

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Last year was a mess for the Dolphins, one they hope to put behind them faster than a Mike Wallace go route. The Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga still hangs over the franchise's head, and they are desperate to turn the page.

The first move was revamping the offensive line, and they signed free agents at left tackle (Branden Albert) and left guard (Shelley Smith) and spent a first round pick on a right tackle in Ja'Wuan James and a third-round pick on a right guard in Billy Turner. That makes four new starters around center Mike Pouncey, who hopefully will be fine coming off hip surgery in June, and the goal is to help third-year starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was sacked a league-high 58 times in 2013.

They also need to help the running game, which was putrid last year (No. 26 in the NFL), and adding Knowshon Moreno as a free agent should help. And the Dolphins have a new play-caller in Bill Lazor, who was the quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia last season.

We're not expecting the Dolphins to resemble the Eagles by any stretch, but there's plenty of talent in Miami to help Fantasy owners. Tannehill could emerge as a viable Fantasy quarterback, Moreno has the chance to remain a starting running back and Wallace, Brian Hartline and Charles Clay are either serviceable starters (Wallace) or bye-week replacements (Hartline and Clay).

Lamar Miller and Jarvis Landry also have potential, but the key is the offensive line. As Pouncey said in an interview with CBSSports.com this offseason, "We're going to be ready to go." If you like any of the Dolphins players this year then let's hope Pouncey is right.

Reality after Peyton ... Knowshon Moreno

Moreno never had to worry about extra defenders near the line of scrimmage thanks to Manning and the Broncos passing game. He flourished in 2013 with career highs in rushing yards (1,038), rushing touchdowns (10), catches (60) and receiving yards (548), and he averaged 4.3 yards per carry and had 13 total touchdowns to finish as the No. 5 Fantasy running back in standard leagues.

Maybe Tannehill will earn that same respect to keep defenders concerned about his arm, but he'll never approach Manning's status. And because of that we expect Moreno to take a significant step back in production, along with a knee injury that could sideline him into training camp.

He also has to keep Miller off the field, and the Dolphins offensive line has to prove its worth. Moreno should still be considered a flex option if healthy and is worth drafting in Round 7 or 8 depending on the size of your league. But don't go into your season with Moreno as a starting option because you'll be left disappointed.

Better than you think ... Mike Wallace

Most Fantasy owners are going to look at Wallace's production in 2013 as a disappointment, and rightfully so. He finished the year with 73 catches for 930 yards and a career-low five touchdowns. But if he plays like he did at the end of the season -- he had 29 catches for 396 yards and four touchdowns over the final six games, scoring at least 14 Fantasy points in three of those outings -- then he could rebound in 2014. And it's not a stretch in Lazor's offense.

The Dolphins didn't move Wallace around last year, but Lazor plans to use Wallace like the Eagles did with DeSean Jackson. Giving Wallace some different looks should help his production.

And when the Dolphins featured Wallace he was productive. He had at least nine targets in nine games and he finished with at least eight Fantasy points in seven of those contests.

He's the type of receiver you'll settle for on Draft Day with a mid-round pick as a No. 3 option, but don't be upset about it. If he plays like he did at the end of the season then you'll end up starting him more often than not.

This year's surprise? ... Ryan Tannehill

2013 Touches Leaders
706 total touches
Lamar Miller 203 (177 car., 26 rec.) 28.7%
Daniel Thomas 124 (109 car., 15 rec.) 17.6%
Mike Wallace 76 (3 car., 73 rec.) 10.8%
Charles Clay 76 (7 car. 69 rec.) 10.8%
Brian Hartline 76 rec. 10.8%
All Others 151 21.4%

Lazor was obviously influential in helping Foles have a breakout season with the Eagles last year, and hopefully his tutelage will rub off on Tannehill. It was hard to fully gauge Tannehill's growth in his sophomore campaign in 2013 because of all the sacks, but the potential is there.

He narrowly missed a 4,000-yard season (3,913), and he passed for 24 touchdowns. He also had at least 18 Fantasy points in seven games. But he struggled as well, and he only posted 20 or more Fantasy points three times, starting in Week 13.

The upgrades along the offensive line should help, as will the additions of Moreno and Landry, and Wallace gets another year in the system. We could see Tannehill emerge as a mid-season starter, much like Foles last year, and he's someone to monitor if he goes undrafted in the majority of leagues.

Schedule analysis

Moreno is going to see plenty of familiar faces this year since the Dolphins face the AFC West, including his former team. He had double digits in Fantasy points in at least one meeting with Oakland, Kansas City and San Diego last year, so hopefully he can repeat those performances. And he should be highly motivated to face the Broncos in Denver in Week 12.

The season opens with a home matchup against the Patriots, meaning you might want to avoid Wallace and his showdown with Darrelle Revis. And the Dolphins might not help you much toward the end of the Fantasy season with matchups against Denver, the Jets, Baltimore and New England from Weeks 12-15.

Training camp battles

Who's the No. 1 running back? We're expecting Moreno to start for the Dolphins, if healthy, based on his body of work and performance in 2013, but Miller won't just hand him the job. We'll find out in training camp how Miller responds to being replaced, and keep in mind he's still a talented rusher, who has gotten the majority of offseason work. Maybe the offensive line held him back last year, and the play-calling under then-coordinator Mike Sherman was horrible. If Moreno is out for all of training camp then Miller would start. Both running backs are only worth drafting with mid-round picks.

Who's the No. 3 receiver? Wallace and Hartline are locked into the Top 2 spots on the depth chart, but Brandon Gibson, Landry and possibly Rishard Matthews will compete for the No. 3 role. Gibson was good in that role prior to going down with a knee injury with at least seven Fantasy points in a standard league in four of his first six games. But Landry was drafted in the third round after a productive career at LSU, and he has more upside than Gibson. Keep an eye on the battle, and the winner could be worth a late-round flier in deep PPR leagues.

Bold prediction

The Dolphins don't have an easy schedule to open the season with New England, Buffalo and Kansas City in the first three games, and those teams are going to challenge Miami's overhauled offensive line with a heavy pass rush. But if Tannehill can survive and somehow shine, he gets the Raiders in Week 4, which is a favorable matchup. A good performance there will catch Fantasy owners' attention heading into Miami's bye in Week 5, and in Week 6 they are home to Green Bay. Drew Brees will be on a bye that week, so Tannehill can be a definite option to start against the Packers. From that point forward he could develop into a weekly starter if he plays up to his potential.

Injury report

Brandon Gibson (knee), questionable for the start of training camp ... Knowshon Moreno (knee), questionable for the start of training camp ... Mike Pouncey (hip), questionable for the start of season

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Player News
Cardinals coach Arians: I was not going to let Logan Thomas fail
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/27/2015) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians still believes in young quarterback Logan Thomas. Arians didn't want to ruin his confidence last season after being forced into action with multiple injuries to Arizona quarterbacks, reports the team's website.

"He's going to get a ton of work and those reps are invaluable," Arians said. "Just in decision-making, how fast you're getting it out of your hand, where you're going with it, where you're going when 'one' and 'two' are still covered. Are you still scrambling around or are you going to find your outlets? That growth process comes strictly from reps."

Arians still has a plan for the second-year pro.

"We drafted him for two years from now, not November," Arians said. "It just so happened his number got called (earlier.) I was not going to let him fail (in San Francisco) because once you fail those scars never go away.

"It's very hard to get the guys back in the locker room if you cost them the playoffs. I just wasn't going to put him in that situation. Right or wrong, it just was my decision."


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by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(3/27/2015) Nose tackle Letroy Guion visited with the Seahawks on Friday, adding another suitor into the mix as the Packers attempt to retain his services, per ESPN.com.

After Guion's criminal case was closed earlier in the week, with Guion paying only a fine, the Seahawks set up a visit. Guion recorded career-highs in tackles (32) and sacks (3 1/2) with the Packers in 2014. 


Panthers claim OT Jonathan Martin off waivers
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(3/27/2015) The Panthers announced Friday they have signed tackle Jonathan Martin off waivers, one day after the lineman was released by the 49ers. 

Martin played in 15 games with San Francisco last season, starting nine of them. Prior to that, he was a member Dolphins before being traded for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2014. The 25-year-old has started 32 of the 38 games he's played in. 

"Jonathan brings quality experience to our offensive line, having started 32 games in his career at both tackle spots," Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said. 


Panthers sign WR Jarrett Boykin to one-year deal
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(3/27/2015) The Panthers signed free agent wide receiver Jarrett Boykin to a one-year deal Friday, per David Newton of ESPN.com. 

The 25-year-old receiver had a big campaign with the Packers in 2013, catching 49 passes for 681 yards, but fell out of favor last season, grabbing just three balls for 23 yards in 13 games. Boykin has 57 career receptions in three seasons, all with the Packers. 


Bears sign CB Alan Ball to one-year deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3/27/2015) The Bears have signed cornerback Alan Ball to a one-year contract on Friday, per the team's official website.

Ball, 29, spent the last two seasons with the Jaguars, but was limited to only seven games in 2014 due to a biceps injury. He racked up 59 total tackles, 17 passes deflected and three interceptions over that span. He has played eight NFL seasons with the Cowboys, Texans and Jags.


Titans sign CB Brandon Harris to one-year deal
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3/27/2015) The Titans have signed cornerback Brandon Harris to a one-year contract on Friday, per the team's official website. Harris played 11 games in 2014, his first season with the Titans. He finished with 11 combined tackles and three pass deflections last season.

Redskins' Thompson, Redd to compete for third-down back role
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/27/2015) Redskins coach Jay Gruden said this week at the NFL owners' meetings running back Chris Thompson will get the first chance to secure third-down responsibilities, according to The Washington Post. Silas Redd will also get consideration for the role of third-down back.

“Chris [Thompson] came in last year at the end and did some things, and we’re hoping that he can come back and stay healthy in the offseason and give us a little jolt back there,” Gruden said. “And Silas Redd will get every chance to do some things also.”

Although, the Redskins could look to bring in some competition before training camp begins.

“I also think that at the running back position in the draft, there’s a ton of them,” Gruden said. “It’s a very deep running back draft in my opinion, and we’re excited to add another piece at some point, hopefully. We have seven picks. Hopefully one of them will be a running back, or a free agent to compete. There are some good free agents that haven’t been signed yet. But, giving Chris an opportunity, Silas, Alfred (Morris), that’s where it starts. And we’ll add some more later on for competition.”


Falcons could bring in Matt Schaub to vie for backup QB role
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/27/2015) Falcons coach Dan Quinn is not ruling out bringing back former Atlanta quarterback Matt Schaub to compete for the backup role behind starter Matt Ryan, per ESPN.

"Schaub is certainly somebody that we could [add]," Quinn said. "As we get through it, we'll let you know if we go down that road."

The 34-year-old Schaub was released by the Raiders in mid-March. T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree are the other quarterbacks on the Falcons' roster.


Panthers' Rivera expecting Stephen Hill to contribute in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/27/2015) Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes wide receiver Stephen Hill is ready to make an impact in 2015 after spending the 2014 season on the practice squad, per ESPN.

“Very much so," Rivera said Wednesday during the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix. “He’s a guy we feel has an opportunity. We’re very excited about [seeing] Stephen during OTAs and minicamp.

“With his size (6-4, 215) and speed and his ability to get vertical, if he can assimilate to what we do -- and I think he will; he seems to be a very smart man -- he might be a guy that has an opportunity to contribute for us."

Rivera felt Hill's year on the practice squad was beneficial after the 2012 second-round pick failed to live up to expectations during his tenure with the Jets. 

“I thought it was a good opportunity to take a step back and take a break," Rivera said. “The thing I liked about Stephen was how he contributed to our football team’s success. He came in. He had been a second-round pick. He had no assumptions, no entitlement.

“He ran all the scout teams for us. He ran them hard. Gave us great looks, which is what makes us excited 'cause you watch a guy perform who could very easily dog it, and he didn’t. And you saw him grow. You saw him make catches. You saw him get comfortable in his own skin again."


Terence Newman reunites with Mike Zimmer in Minnesota
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/27/2015) The Vikings announced Friday they signed cornerback Terence Newman, who played for coach Mike Zimmer in Dallas and Cincinnati.

“That’s the biggest thing. He can still play. He came in the league later. I think he was 25 when he came in,” Zimmer said, per the team's official website. “He struggled a little bit in Dallas and then played great in Cincinnati. Last year, he didn’t play quite as good, so seemingly with me, we get things fixed a little bit. I really respect him, and I think he really respects me.”

Although terms of the deal were not officially released, NFL.com reported earlier this week the veteran cornerback's deal is a one-year, $2.5 million contract.


 
 
 
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