2021 Fantasy Football Preview: Miami Dolphins

Today’s 2021 NFL offseason fantasy football preview highlights the Miami Dolphins. As we’re doing for this series of articles, we’re covering each team’s fantasy-relevant players based on average draft position in a 12-man fantasy league.

The Miami Dolphins totaled six players that are expected to be selected this upcoming fantasy season, so here’s our take on the outlook for each of these players and whether or not we’re comfortable selecting them at their current ADP.

Quarterback:

Tua Tagovailoa
(ADP: QB21; 14.01)

Tagovailoa emerged as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback in Week 8 of the 2020 season and proceeded to start in nine of the team’s 10 remaining games (missed Week 12 against the Jets due to injury). While his stats were rarely eye popping, his 2021 outlook appears much brighter than what we witnessed in ’20 due in large part to the front office specifically surrounding him with playmakers that fit his strengths; most notably speedsters Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. It’s also important to note that the team is expected to look much different offensively in ’21 with Chan Gailey out and Eric Studesville and George Godsey in as co-offensive coordinators. Tagovailoa doesn’t offer much in regards to ground production, which has become increasingly more popular as the position of quarterback has evolved over recent years, but we should see a significant jump in his air production compared to last year’s 1,814 yards and 11 touchdowns. Currently projected as the 21st quarterback to come off the board this fantasy season means you likely won’t have to rely on him as your weekly QB1, but rather he fills the role as your bench quarterback that can fill in due to bye week/injury. It’s hard to argue Tagovailoa’s value and upside as the 21st quarterback off the board, so I feel comfortable recommending him as a reliable backup that possesses weekly-start upside if need be.

Running Back:

Myles Gaskin
(ADP: RB22; 4.12)

The only true draft capital spent on Dolphins’ running backs last year came via Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, however it was Gaskin that emerged as the team’s RB1 and averaged 14 PPR points per game over the team’s first seven games before injury sidelined him the next four weeks. Gaskin appeared in just three more games throughout the rest of the season, but scored 14.1, 33.9 and 17.7 PPR points in those respective games. Miami also played a high percentage of snaps last year with three rookie offensive lineman (Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley), and expect those three to join third-year center Michael Deiter and either second-round NFL Draft selection, Liam Eichenberg, or fifth-year utility man, Jesse Davis, to form (what should be) an improved offensive line. Gaskin recorded just two receiving touchdowns last year, both in the same game against the Raiders, but saw less than four targets just once in the 10 games he played in. The biggest feather in Gaskin’s cap is the fact that Miami didn’t spend high NFL Draft capital at the running back position. He’ll share a bit of the workload with Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed but neither of these players project to cut into Gaskin’s production the way the likes of Najee Harris, Travis Etienne or Javonte Williams would have. Currently projected as the 22nd running back off the board means he’s likely your fantasy squad’s RB2 or top flex option, and if he can duplicate his fantasy production from last season he’ll warrant his 4.12 draft capital. However, the biggest unknown surrounding Gaskin is how he’ll fit into the team’s new offensive philosophy; so while selecting him in the late fourth/early fifth is a fairly safe play, Gaskin isn’t the type of player I’m all-out targeting or that I’d reach for.

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Wide Receiver:

Will Fuller
(ADP: WR42; 10.03)

Projecting the production of a wide receiver on a new team isn’t the easiest thing to do – and in Fuller’s case – we also need to add in the fact that he’s ineligible for Week 1 (suspension) and that he’s historically injury prone. Despite everything I just mentioned, Fuller has the highest ADP of all Dolphins’ wide receivers since he’s arguably the most proven WR of the bunch and he’s statistically (and analytically) the most well-rounded (route running, hands, speed, YAC, etc). Even though he played in just 11 games last year for the Texans, Fuller set career highs in catches (53), yards (879) and touchdowns (8). Notably known as a burner that makes big downfield plays, Fuller proved to be more than just a deep threat as the WR1 for the Texans last year, finishing with a very productive success rate on nearly every route in the book. He’s a fairly safe bet to lead the Dolphins in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns, but the downside is that these numbers will likely be fairly low in comparison to other team’s WR1 since Miami projects as a team that will spread the field with fairly even target distribution to its top four pass-catching options. An ADP of 10.03 as the 42nd receiver off the board feels about right for Fuller. By selecting him here you won’t necessarily need to be relying on him as a weekly starter, and you won’t really have to worry at all about his week-one suspension. If your strategy is to load up on running backs early in the draft, Fuller is a nice option at receiver for you in the 10th round.

Jaylen Waddle
(ADP: WR44; 10.07)

Two wide receivers below Fuller (based on ADP) is where you’ll find Waddle. What this tells us is that fantasy players have no true consensus as to whether Fuller or Waddle (or even Parker…) will emerge as Tagovailoa’s go-to option in ’21, leaving it up to personal preference when it comes to selecting a Dolphins’ WR this year in fantasy. If you opt for Waddle you’re betting on a couple of different things. First, you’re hoping that Tagovailoa and Waddle rekindle their chemistry from their time spent together at Alabama, and second you’re counting on Waddle’s speed and explosiveness to translate to the next level. The Dolphins made Waddle their pick at No. 6 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft for a couple of specific reasons. They wanted a twitchy wide receiver that can get separation quickly, while at the same time having the speed and shiftiness to turn short-to-medium receptions into chunk-yardage plays. If things click for Waddle and he finds early success (primarily) out of the slot for Miami you likely have one of the steals of the draft by landing him in the 10th round. However, there’s typically a learning curve for receivers at the next level, and we already discussed how likely it is that Miami will spread the targets around this upcoming season. So while it’s fun and exciting to draft rookie wide receivers in fantasy, especially recently with how much success we’ve seen from guys such as Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb, you should definitely temper your expectations and make sure you don’t reach too high for a player like Waddle. Selecting him anywhere in the 10th round is fine, I just wouldn’t suggest going much higher than that.

DeVante Parker
(ADP: WR59; 13.09)

Behind Fuller and Waddle in ADP is where you’ll find Parker. Much like I said about Fuller, Parker can essentially serve as the team’s WR1, but his number will tend to be a bit lower due to target distribution. Parker had a career year in 2019 (72-1,202-9) and looked like the dominant force Miami hoped he’d be when the Dolphins made him the 14th-overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. However, Parker disappointed fantasy owners last season with a 63-793-4 stat line in just 11 starts. There were a couple of things that were sort of out of Parker’s control last year that led to his fantasy irrelevance. In what’s become a bit of a reoccurring theme for Parker, injuries once again forced him to miss significant playing time. Making the switch from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tagovailoa also didn’t help Parker’s case as Fitzpatrick is the type of quarterback that’s going to give his receivers chances with 50/50 balls (where Parker excels), whereas Tagovailoa was more hesitant to take shots downfield and often ran more plays that resulted in safer/check-down passes. With Parker’s ADP a bit more in check this year compared to last he’ll have a much easier time living up to the draft capital that it takes to acquire him. I’m not going out of my way to draft Parker this year as I think he’d be a tough guy to stomach in your starting lineup as anything more than a bye-week filler. However, he’s not a terrible option to stash on your bench given his low ADP.

Tight End:

Mike Gesicki
(ADP: TE13; 10.06)

Gesicki experienced the third-year breakout last year posting career highs in receptions (53), yards (703) and touchdowns (6). His stat line was good enough to finish as the TE7 in PPR leagues last year, but his current ADP tells us that fantasy players are expecting a statistical drop off and/or other tight ends will emerge and surpass Gesicki in ’21. Since it appears that Miami is going to spread the field and let Tagovailoa play a style similar to what he did while at Bama, there may be a case to be made that the Dolphins don’t see peppering the tight end with targets as a priority. However, even if Miami lines up four or five wide on a higher percentage of snaps in ’21, there’s a pretty good chance Gesicki will see some work in these formations since he very often splits out as a receiver rather than lining up as a traditional in-line tight end. If your fantasy strategy for the tight end position is to let others select the likes of Travis Kelce and Darren Waller in the early rounds while you load up on running backs and wide receivers, then I’d feel comfortable telling you to wait until nearly every team has a tight end and then grabbing Gesicki in the 10th or 11th round. He’s more than likely never going to be a week-winner for you like Kelce and Waller may do a couple times throughout the year, but hopefully he can keep you competitive at the TE position while the flex players that you spent a bit higher draft capital on do more of the heavy lifting.

Be sure to check out my positional rankings as they’ll continue to be updated leading up to the 2021 fantasy football season:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Ben Morgan is a co-host and blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast. Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

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