[I’m man enough to admit that last week’s fantasy guidance — to get Arian Foster in your lineup against the Patriots — proved to be a total bust. But who could have guessed he’d go down early with a groin injury (and cede all of the subsequent carries to Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake and sadly Miami’s current leading rusher, Ryan Tannehill)?
Well, anyone who’s watched the now 30-year-old Foster miss significant time in two of the last three seasons. That’s who.
And who could have guessed that the Patriots would get so far out in front that Tannehill would spend the entire second half bombing the Fins offense up and down the field, passing and scoring nearly at will, and ending up with a massive 389 yards and two touchdowns?
Well, anyone who’s seen the Dolphins play — and lose badly, by a combined score of 132-37 — in New England during Tannehill’s first four NFL seasons. That’s who. In fact, Sunday was the third straight game in New England in which Tannehill has topped the 300-yard mark.
But we’re moving on.]
Sunday is the Dolphins’ home opener under new coach Adam Gase at the new and improved Hard Rock Stadium. And it’s time to turn over a new leaf.
I’m forcing myself to relearn two unfamiliar words when it comes to the Dolphins and fantasy football looking ahead to the Browns in Week 3. They are two words I don’t use often in my life, either professionally or outside of the sports arena. Those words? “Positivity” and “confidence.”
Yes, the Dolphins are 0-2 in the standings, already two games behind the AFC East-leading Patriots. But the Browns are winless as well, they’re already on their third starting quarterback in three games — completely untested rookie Cody Kessler — and promising young WR Corey Coleman broke his hand in practice on Wednesday and is questionable for the game Sunday.
Let’s do away with any pretense: The Dolphins should win this game.
But what does that mean for your fantasy team?
Tannehill is a pretty solid play this week against Cleveland’s 21st-ranked pass defense. Yahoo has him as the consensus No. 13 QB this week, far higher than in Weeks 1 and 2, and the expectation is that, while he’s unlikely to light the world on fire, it’s not unfair to expect 250-plus yards and a couple of touchdowns. Tannehill carved up the Patriots in the second half last week, and that has set a fairly high bar for what fans — both fantasy and non — will expect of him going forward.
The running back situation is significantly more convoluted. If Foster misses the game as expected, some combination of Jay Ajayi (31st this week in Yahoo’s RB rankings, Kenyan Drake (No. 46), Damien Williams and/or Isaiah Pead will get the carries. And despite the fact that the Browns’ run defense is mediocre (17th in the league), none of these backs are likely to post yardage numbers vastly superior to the others. Of the four, Drake, the rookie out of Alabama, might be the best bet, despite the fact that Ajayi will likely get the early carries. Like the others, Drake has shown an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but he hasn’t fumbled the ball (cough, cough, Ajayi) and did manage a score against New England, so he could get some more chances in the Red Zone. Long story short, steer clear of the Dolphins’ running backs if you can, but if you want to take a flier, I love the Drake.
Among the Dolphins receivers, Jarvis Landry (Yahoo’s No. 15 WR) is, as usual, your safest bet. And DeVante Parker (No. 28) and Kenny Stills (No. 76) aren’t terrible plays either.
Even Jordan Cameron, who snagged five balls last week for 49 yards and a score, cracked Yahoo’s top 25 tight ends this week.
But we won’t stop there. Even Miami’s defense deserves a mench going into this game. Despite allowing 31 points to the Patriots, the Browns are a vastly different beast, particularly with Kessler under center. Yahoo has the Dolphins D as the fourth best in the league this week, and they make for a sneaky one-week pickup: they were added over 26,000 times on Thursday, yet are still owned in only 37 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of press).
I gaze ahead to Sunday against the Browns, and everything looks like sunshine, rainbows and puppy dogs for the Dolphins — despite the scattered thunderstorms on the forecast. It’s a brave new world, one that should see Gase earn his first win as head coach and one that could see a couple of Dolphins emerge as legitimate contributors on the fantasy landscape.