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After a strong ending to the 2019 season, many wondered if the Miami Dolphins would take a step forward in 2020. The team drafted a potential franchise quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, and with coach Brian Flores at the helm the team looked to be on the cusp of taking a step forward. The team got off to a hot start with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm then turned it over to Tua. The Dolphins finished 10-6 and narrowly missed making the playoff field. Now, with Fitzpatrick in Washington and Tua in year two, the question is if the Dolphins can take that final step into the playoffs again.
Fitzpatrick moved on, but he wasn’t the only veteran to leave the Dolphins. Kyle Van Noy, who had been a big free agent signing in 2020, returned to the Patriots. Davon Godchaux followed Van Noy to New England, while running back Matt Breida signed with the Bills and cornerback Bobby McClain signed with Washington. While some veterans departed, the Dolphins brought in some new blood, too.
The biggest signing on offense was wide receiver Will Fuller V, who spent his first five seasons with the Houston Texans. Fuller will finish his six-game suspension from 2020 by sitting out the Dolphins’ first game, but he’s provides another big target for the team’s arsenal. Fuller has 209 career receptions for 3,110 yards and 24 touchdowns. The Dolphins also added veteran running back Malcolm Brown, who spent the last few seasons with the Rams. The team also added veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett and veteran defensive back Jason McCourty, who last played with the Patriots.
The Dolphins continued to build through the draft as well, adding Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle in the First Round of the draft. Waddle, who played with Tua before, caught 106 passes for 1,999 yards and 17 TDs in three seasons. The Dolphins also helped the defense with Miami defensive end Jaelen Phillips with its second First Round pick, adding safety Jevon Holland in the Second Round and tackle Liam Eichenberg and tight end Hunter Long in the Third Round.
As a rookie, Tua started nine games and went 6-3. He threw for 1,814 yards, 11 TDs and 5 INTs, with 109 yards rushing and three additional touchdowns. He finished as QB32. Tua should be the starter all season barring injury and has improved weapons. That being said, I am still cautious with how big a step forward he takes. I like Tua as a mid-to-low QB2 in 2021. His current ADP is QB21, which feels about right.
The backfield is also a bit of a question. Returner Myles Gaskin appears to be in line to lead a committee that includes Brown, Salvon Ahmed and Seventh Round rookie selection Gerrid Doaks. Gaskin had 584 yards rushing and 3 TDs, catching 41 passes for 388 yards and 2 TDs in seven starts in 2020. I like him to return RB2 value in 2021, while the rest are little more than occasional contributors.
The passing game is the biggest question. The team returns receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams as well as tight end Mike Gesicki. Given Waddle’s college production and familiarity with Tua, I think he ends up leading the Dolphins’ receivers. I have him as a WR3. I think Parker, Fuller and Williams all contribute, but will struggle with top end value in an offense I don’t expect to be high-volume. Parker and Fuller should have flex appeal in deep leagues, while I like Gesicki to sneak into the Top 12 at tight end.
The Dolphins were a fun story in 2019 and a trendy sleeper in 2020 that didn’t quite pan out. No one will be sleeping on the Dolphins in 2021, and while I like the talent I’m not convinced they are yet a lock for the playoffs. I expect another nine to 11 win season and the team to be in the mix for a Wild Card slot.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.