The third week of the 2018 NFL regular season is in the books. To the surprise of many outside of the Dolphins fanbase and to surprise of many in the national media, the Dolphins are one of three undefeated teams. They are already halfway to the six total wins that Vegas had them projected to achieve over the summer, and they look to continue that trend by playing good, efficient football. While the Dolphins have been playing winning football, there hasn’t been a lot that has showed up consistently in terms of fantasy football. They’ve been spreading the ball around and smartly managing the clock. In weeks 1 and 2 the Dolphins got the lead early and played smart and safe football. Their final drive in week 2 burned more than 6 minutes of the clock to help seal the win. Week 3 was the meatiest week for Dolphins fantasy points this season, as they made a furious comeback to defeat the Raiders.
Ryan Tannehill: Tannehill has been playing great football and has finally started to earn the respect of the media and football fans alike. Coming into the season, he was not on most lists as a contender for “Comeback Player of the Year”, after not playing for 637 days due to two injuries to the same ACL. This week, Peter King listed him as a top 5 MVP candidate. It is a long season and Tannehill still has plenty to prove, but the numbers make a strong case for him as a top ten quarterback. Tannehill is 10-1 in his last 11 games. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald in the sixteen games that he has played for Adam Gase, he is seventh in the NFL in passer rating (98.0), third in completion percentage (68%), fourth in yards per attempt (7.95). He completed 315 of 463 for 3,682 yards with 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
In 2018, he has a passer rating of 121.8 and is 54 of 74 (73%) for 687 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, at 9.28 yards per attempt, and has rushed for 74 yards.
Week three was Tannehill’s biggest game this season for fantasy points. He completed 17 or 23 for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was also the leading rusher for Miami against a stout Raiders defense, gaining 26 yards on 3 carries.
Tannehill hasn’t had to throw the ball much through the first three weeks of the season, but he has made good decisions, had very good accuracy, and has been effective. He looks comfortable in his second year in Gase’s system and should get even better as the season rolls on and he continues to knock off the rust. He is absolutely worth a spot in two QB leagues, and in deeper leagues could be worth a stash and spot starts depending on match up. As the season continues and the offense builds momentum he could become a must start every week.
Kenyan Drake: Kenyan Drake has had a bit of a disappointing start to 2018. Weeks one and two were not horrible, but he hasn’t put up some of the stats that many thought he would. A lot of this has to do with safe, conservative play calling to maintain leads in those weeks. In week three, the Dolphins had a hard time getting anything going on the ground against the Raiders defense. In week 1 he rushed for 48 yards on 14 attempts (3.4 yards per carry) with a long of 16 yards. He added 18 yards on 3 receptions. In week 2, he gained 53 yards on 11 carries (4.8 yards per carry) with 1 touchdown and had 4 catches for 17 yards. In week three, he gained 3 yards on 5 carries, and had 2 receptions for 7 yards and played 67% of the offensive snaps. He should not be given up on at this point. On Sunday, Gase really opened up the playbook, throwing the ball to the intermediate part of the field and called several trick plays that went for touchdowns. This should keep defenses on their toes in the coming weeks and could really open things up for Drake. I expect we could see him utilized catching out of the backfield a lot in week 4 against the Patriots. They lack speed at linebacker, and Drake could have a serious match up advantage in this game.
Frank Gore: While Frank Gore is listed as a co-starter on the Dolphins official depth chart, Kenyan Drake is undoubtedly the number one back for Miami. Through three games, Gore has 24 carries for 98 yards (4.1 yards per carry) with 0 touchdowns and 1 reception for 19 yards and a touchdown. Currently, he may be worth a roster spot in deep and/or dynasty leagues, but should not be started if it can be avoided.
Kalen Ballage: It has been a shock that Kalen Ballage has been inactive through the first three weeks of the season. Due to his size, power and ability to catch out of the backfield he was expected to at least have a role coming into the season. He is worth a taxi quad spot in dynasty formats, but nothing more at this point.
AJ Derby: AJ Derby is considered a co-starter with Mike Gesicki, but only has 2 receptions for 35 yards and 1 touchdown through the first three weeks. He also suffered a foot injury in week three and had not practiced through Wednesday.
Mike Gesicki: The rookie out of Penn State has had some growing pains, as rookie tight ends tend to. He is listed as the other co-starter and while not being known for his blocking coming out of college and more for his athleticism and catching ability, he has been asked to contribute more in the running game than passing. In week three however, he put up his best stat line of the young season. While he didn’t set the league on fire (3 catches for 31 yards (10.3 yards per reception)) this is evidence of his development and as the season continues his role should continue to grow, especially in Gase’s Y-Iso offense. He is worth at least a taxi squad spot in dynasty formats at this point.
Kenny Stills: Kenny Stills is the Dolphins de facto number one receiver, and while the game flow week two caused him to have a bit of a down week he is worth a spot on a teams game day roster each week. Through the first three weeks of the season, he has 9 receptions for 184 yards (20.4 yards per reception) and 3 touchdowns. In week three he had 3 receptions for 61 yards (20.3 yards per reception) with a 34 yard touchdown. He has the ability to play outside and in the slot and can do damage from both positions. Stills has 14 touchdowns from 20+ yards since the start of 2016, the most in the NFL in the span. He has great chemistry with Tannehill, and as Tannehill continues to shake off the rust Stills stats could continue to grow.
Danny Amendola: through the first three weeks of the season, Amendola has 11 receptions for 100 yards (9.1 yards per reception) and zero touchdowns. In week three, he had 3 receptions for 42 yards (14 yards per reception). The Dolphins might rely on him in high pressure situations because he has shown a knack for coming through in the clutch in the past, but he will be touchdown dependent most weeks and isn’t worth a starter spot in most formats, unless he is being used in deeper leagues as a match up based flex.
Devante Parker: Parker has been a bit of a puzzle to figure out. Since entering the league in 2015, he has not quite reached his first-round potential but has not been horrible either. He’s made eye popping plays at times, disappeared at others, and has missed time due to injury every year. Week three was his first game in 2018 after missing the first two with a broken finger. Despite playing 75% of the offensive snaps (23 of these snaps were passing plays) he was only able to catch two passes, one for 36 yards and one for 4 yards. The Dolphins offense has been more efficient and explosive with Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson on the field, and they could and should cut into his snaps as the season rolls on, unless he finds a way to be more effective.
Albert Wilson: Wilson has been the top free agent signing this year for the Dolphins and has brought several dimensions to the Dolphins offense that they have not previously had. One of the reasons he was brought in to replace Landry was because he was the number one rated receiver by PFF last year in yards gained on screen passes. According to PFF, out of 114 qualifying receivers, Wilson ranked as the following over 2017 and 2018: Yards per target = 8th, yards per route = 8th, YAC per catch = 2nd, missed tackles per catch = 2nd, touchdowns per target = 21st, fantasy points per target = 7th, fantasy points per route = 18th. In 2018, PFF has him ranked as the number four receiver in the NFL. Each week, the Dolphins have worked to get him more involved, and he has shown game breaking ability and I expect this trend to continue. They have lined him up out wide, in the slot, in the backfield, and in week 3 he threw a 54-yard touchdown to Jakeem Grant, while posting 2 receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown, despite only playing 10 snaps. I think as the season goes on, him and Jakeem Grant should and will cut into Parker's snaps. Wilson is worth at least a stash and could be at least a match up dependent flex, even at his current snap count.
Jakeem Grant: Grant may only be 5’7, but he’s proving that you don’t need to be over 6 feet tall to be a difference maker playing as an outside receiver if you have incredible speed (4.38 40-yard dash). From 2017 – 2018, he ranks number one of one hundred and fourteen eligible receivers in missed tackles per catch. He ranks number nine in yards per target, and number two in yards per route. He has shown he can be incredibly dangerous, and in the first three weeks of 2018, the combination of him and Albert Wilson seems to be deadly and the Dolphins would be wise to capitalize on this more. Through the first three weeks, Grant has 9 catches for 135 yards (15 yards per reception) and two touchdowns. The two touchdowns came during week three, when he had 2 receptions for 72 yards. Two touchdowns, on two receptions, playing nine snaps in the game. That efficiently is remarkable, and he needs to be on the field more. He is worth a stash, and could be at least match up dependent flex, even at his current snap count.