2022 Miami Dolphins – Fantasy Football Deep Dive

Fantasy Football draft season is nearly upon us! The Desai Guys continue their series of deep dives with the Miami Dolphins.

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Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill. Photo Credit: MiamiDolphins.com
Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill. Photo Credit: MiamiDolphins.com

2022 Miami Dolphins – Fantasy Football Deep Dive

What do Mike McDaniel, Tony Montana, and The Golden Girls all have in common? They all call Miami home. After the shocking firing of Brian Flores, McDaniel takes over as the head coach and will hopefully lead the Dolphins to their first playoff appearance since the 2016 season.

McDaniel has spent the majority of his coaching career as a position coach and offensive assistant. He’s also notably one of Kyle Shanahan’s protégés, having spent nine total seasons on his coaching staff which includes stops with the Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, and San Francisco 49ers. He was one of the members of the now famous Washington Redskins offensive coaching staff of the early 2010s under Mike Shanahan. This coaching staff featured his son Kyle as the offensive coordinator, Sean McVay as the tight ends coach, and Matt LaFleur as the quarterback’s coach.

McDaniel is a creative play-caller and was instrumental in the 49ers making the playoffs last season, with his usage of wide receiver Deebo Samuel as a running back and a wide receiver. The Dolphins are optimistic that McDaniel can bring that creativity to the offense and make Miami serious contenders in the AFC playoff race. Not only that, but his innovative scheme can also lead to some great options for your fantasy roster. Let’s take a look at those potential options and see how they can help you this coming fantasy season.

Coaching Philosophy

One of the biggest tasks for McDaniel is fixing the running game with Miami. Thankfully for Dolphins fans, McDaniel was the run game coordinator with the 49ers. After being on Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff for the past nine seasons, expect McDaniel to bring over similar running concepts that Shanahan liked to employ. The biggest change would be the switch to a wide-zone running scheme, which benefited so many running backs under both Kyle and Mike Shanahan.

Also, while most teams use RPO concepts in their offense, McDaniel will be sure to use that with Tua Tagovailoa to help him understand the defensive alignment and make the right choices in either the passing game or the running game. Also seeing as the Miami Dolphins have signed every running back under the sun to be in their backfield, you certainly can expect the offense to rely heavily on the running game.

So while we should see a revamped running game, expect the passing game to see some changes as well. With an inexperienced quarterback in Tagovailoa under center (for now), McDaniel is going to do his best to put Tua in manageable downs and situations he can flourish in. We should see some more West Coast principles installed in this passing offense as this can instill more confidence in the young quarterback and make him more comfortable making plays when needed.

This offense added a ton of speed and we can expect McDaniel to spread the opposing defense out so that the playmakers can use their agility and speed to blow past defenders after the catch. We will see more usage of the screen game as well to help move the ball down the field easily.

Overall, expect some growing pains in this offense as players understand the scheme and the nuances McDaniel wants to introduce. With that said, we should see some more promise compared to previous seasons under Flores and should be a boon for fantasy managers everywhere.

Who Stands To Benefit?

Chase Edmonds, RB

As mentioned earlier, the Dolphins have shored up the running back room this offseason and then some. Here is their current running back room: Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, Sony Michel, Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, Gerrid Doaks, and ZaQuandre White. Most likely, some of these players are going to get cut before the season begins but this is an area McDaniel wants to emphasize in his offense. Looking at all these running backs, why does Edmonds stand to benefit the most?

Edmonds was the first running back signed by the Dolphins out of all these running backs. McDaniel clearly saw Edmonds’ skillset and thought about how he can craft an offensive strategy with Edmonds leading the charge. During his first four seasons in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals used him as a complementary running back to David Johnson, Kenyan Drake, and then most recently James Conner. In those four seasons, Edmonds has totaled just 461 touches which is about 115 touches per season. Edmonds will be part of a committee here in Miami, but he hasn’t been heavily used yet and he can certainly become a focal point of the offense because of his low usage rate in the NFL so far.

Keep in mind that even though Mostert has found success in McDaniel’s system before, he’s suffered leg injuries in back-to-back seasons that limited him to playing in only nine total games over the past two seasons.

Michel could certainly get a good share of touches in this offense, but Edmonds is a player that should flourish in the starting role here in Miami and will be supplemented with the others on the roster.

Looking at Edmonds as a fantasy option for your roster, he’s being targeted as early as the 9th round in fantasy leagues. That makes him a bench option for your team but the potential to become a solid FLEX option. It’s one of those moves you can make that will give you some good depth on your bench and then later could be a difference maker for you as you make a push for a postseason spot.

Jaylen Waddle, WR

The acquisition of Tyreek Hill in the offseason has definitely sent shockwaves through the NFL landscape. He’s a speed threat that racked up a ton of receiving yards in the Kansas City offense the past handful of seasons. Coming to Miami though, we should see a slight drop in production with the change in quarterback play and also a rookie head coach calling the shots. This is where Waddle gets a leg up on Hill to become a more reliable weapon in this passing offense.

While Hill is still going to be a productive player in this new-look Miami offense, the carryover of Waddle and Tagovailoa will speak volumes early in the season. Waddle had a fantastic rookie season by being one of 10 receivers to have over 100 receptions (Hill also did) and he also crossed the 1,000-yard receiving mark.

While Hill can be the home run hitter in this offense, look at Waddle to play more of a chain mover role. This offense is going to instill West Coast principles and Waddle can fit that role and flourish in it as well.

So with all that said, Waddle’s stock took a slight hit with Hill now being on the roster but not by much. Before the Hill trade, Waddle was a clear-cut WR1 in this offense but now after the Hill trade, you can view Waddle as a borderline WR1.

His ADP hasn’t been affected much at all and you can probably see people starting to target him around the 4th round or so. Waddle is still a focal point of this offense and as Hill adjusts to the new system and new quarterback, Waddle will pick up where he left off last season. Draft Waddle as a WR2, but know that he could end up being a WR1 in fantasy leagues and reap that value.

Potential Break-Out Player

Mike Gesicki, TE

We just talked about the acquisition of Hill in this passing offense and how that may hurt Waddle’s value. The player that may take more of a hit would be Gesicki, but he’s still going to be a huge asset in McDaniel’s new offense. Let’s not forget that McDaniel had the privilege of utilizing George Kittle in his offense for the past five seasons.

While he might not have been calling the plays in San Francisco, he was able to see Kyle Shanahan leverage Kittle to make him one of the premier tight ends in the league. Gesicki may not see that meteoric of a rise, but he’ll definitely be a difference maker in the Dolphins offense.

One of the big reasons is the tight end depth on this team. Now Gesicki is more of a receiving tight end, but he may be asked to block more in this now run-first offense. Thankfully, Miami has a couple of capable blocking tight ends behind Gesicki which can free him up to run more routes. Guys like Adam Shaheen and Durham Smythe can handle more blocking duties, which will allow Gesicki to move the chains and be a dangerous red zone threat for the offense. They also signed Alec Ingold, who can be an H-Back very similar to Kyle Juszczyk’s role back in San Francisco. Expect Gesicki to see his role lessen in some ways, but increase in others to make him still very fantasy relevant.

Gesicki is being targeted in the 10th round or later based on his ADP and has a positional ranking of 12th right now. So he carries a lot of value if he can replicate the finish that he had in PPR leagues last season as he finished eighth among fantasy tight ends.

Most fantasy managers are going to avoid Gesicki because of the added firepower and the run-first approach by McDaniel in this offense. Don’t be scared off by that as Gesicki should become more of a touchdown threat and will be able to move the chains as one of Tagovailoa’s dump-off options.

Bold Prediction

Tyreek Hill Will Finish Outside The Top 15 For Fantasy Wide Receivers

This one might not age well as Hill has finished as a top-15 fantasy wide receiver in four of his six seasons in the NFL. The reason he might finish outside the top 15 is because of the change in offensive scheme.

As mentioned earlier, McDaniel is going to feature the running game first in this offense and then work the passing game off of that. Coming from Kansas City, Hill played in an offense that ranked top five in passing attempts the past two seasons.

If you look at the offense that McDaniel is coming from, the 49ers ranked 16th in passing attempts in 2020 and 29th in 2021. To take that a step further, San Francisco’s best fantasy receiver ranked 35th in 2020. Deebo Samuel did emerge last season and ranked as the third-best fantasy receiver, but his trade request was built off not wanting to be used as a running back anymore. Hill might be used a little as a runner, but he doesn’t have the same build as Samuel and won’t be able to break tackles and be a “running back” when asked to be one.

The change in quarterbacks will also show how effective or ineffective Hill will be in the Dolphins offense as well. In Hill’s career, 35 of his 67 career receiving touchdowns have been 30 yards or longer. The drop in average distance per attempt is significant as Patrick Mahomes averaged 7.4 yards per attempt last season and Tagovailoa averaged 6.8 yards per attempt. So it’s still very possible that Hill will finish as a top-15 fantasy wide receiver, but there’s a good amount of reasons that could have Hill finish outside of that top-15 as well.

Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill. Photo Credit: MiamiDolphins.com
Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill. Photo Credit: MiamiDolphins.com