On September 21, 2008, the NFL was basically turned on its head for a brief period of time and the ripple effects still linger.
Normally, a week 3 game won't have that kind of impact, but this was about as important of a September game as there could be in the modern NFL game because it made the modern NFL what it is in many ways.
The Dolphins were 0-2 and coming off of a 1-15 season. The Patriots were 2-0 and coming off of a 16-0 season that didn't see them lose until the Super Bowl. This was one of the most David versus Goliath games in NFL history and despite what the story says, David never wins this battle. That's why he is David. He will always be David and the Goliath will always be the favorite. Still, every now and then...
The Dolphins went into New England, and they not only won, they kicked the Patriots asses. It was the most un-American thing they could do, kicking a Patriots ass, but what do they care? They're Dolphins. They just want you to give them fish and in return do some tricks. And this group of Dolphins certainly had tricks up their sleeves.
It was the first time the nation took notice of the Wildcat offense under new head coach Tony Sparano. Ronnie Brown was taking direct snaps, rather than the traditional hand-off. People love trick plays because they are rare and interesting. Now the Dolphins seemed to be doing a majority of their plays as trick plays, making normal plays the new trick play. In reality, the Wildcat offense wasn't something the Dolphins ran the majority of the time, but they ran more trick plays than any other team ever had... and it was working.
Brown ran for 113 yards and 4 touchdowns and threw a 19 yard score to Anthony Fasano. Ricky Williams ran for 98 yards and Chad Pennington was 17 for 20 for 226 yards and the Dolphins won 38-13 in New England. The good times kept on rolling and the Dolphins amazingly won the division and the Patriots were left out of the playoffs for the first time since 2002. And everyone started running their own version of the Wildcat, which of course meant that it was no longer as effective as it was for the Dolphins in 2008.
Times have changed and the 2011 Dolphins won't look much like the 2008 version. Pennington, Brown, Williams, and Ted Ginn Jr are gone. But with a strong offensive line, can the newer Dolphins repeat some of that success of the old Dolphins and how many of them are fantasy worthy?
In many ways Henne does not "feel" like a former 2nd round pick. He seems like a late-round flier the Dolphins threw into the fire after Pennington got hurt for the 725th time, because he appears to be more of a "game manager" than a high-upside physical talent. In reality, he's just a very inconsistent QB and still just 26 years old. He topped an 80 QB rating in 8 games last year and went for more than 300 yards 3 times. But he also threw 19 interceptions against just 15 touchdowns. If the matchup looks favorable, Henne isn't a horrible play, but he also threw 3 interceptions against Cleveland last year, so you never know. He's at the back end of fantasy backup QBs.
There's a better and more interesting Matt Moore in Florida and he plays another sport. This Matt Moore lost his job to Jimmy Clausen. End of story.
Bush probably won't get more than 10-15 touches per game in Miami, but he's the running back you are more interested in right? Because he can be so explosive and we can see the talent that is there, Bush doesn't get a lot of hype as one of the biggests busts ever, but let's not forget that the 2005 NFL season was called the "Reggie Bush sweepstakes" for the teams that were looking like they'd be drafting at the top. Some people even said Houston blew a kick in their final game on purpose to draft Bush. Luckily they did not and the Saints swooped him up at #2. New Orleans can't kick themselves over it too much, they won a Super Bowl and Reggie helped, but he's got just 2,090 rushing yards in 5 seasons. He's an excellent punt returner and he caught 88 passes in his rookie season, but he's slowly regressed since then.
In Miami, it seems apparent that he will take on about half of the workload, and it might be a better situation for him considering the Dolphins offensive scheme. He could be a good play in PPR leagues and you never know if he might break out for a big season. I'd feel okay drafting him as a RB4, I'd be a little worried if he was my primary RB3.
The better play could be Thomas, the Dolphins 2nd round pick this year out of Kansas State. He's got some of the all-time best numbers in K-State history and as a former high school quarterback, he seems to fit into what Miami tries to do. I'm not saying he'll throw much (Ronnie Brown has 12 career passes) but he should feel comfortable in the same role that Brown had. Rookies are always wild card plays, but Thomas doesn't have much standing in his way, the Dolphins have Jake Long and a host of veterans on the line, and he's a risky but solid play as a RB3.
It was a tough hit for Marshall owners (like myself in a keeper league) when they found out that he was headed from Denver to Miami. He was coming off his third straight season of more than 100 catches, and Denver is usually a good spot for a #1 WR. Miami was shaky at the QB position and didn't utilize a #1 in the same way, so his value could take a major hit. Indeed he went from 101 catches and 10 TDs in 2009 to 86 catches and 3 TDs in 2010. Marshall was an easy WR1 option before, but in Miami I'd keep him well in that WR2 range, and maybe WR3. He's capable, but I don't know that the system works well for him fantasy-wise.
He's not flashy, but Bess posted career highs with 79 catches and 820 yards in 2010. In PPR leagues, Bess isn't a bad play, he had 6 more catches on 8 occasions and added 5 TDs. He also posted just 1 catch in 3 different games. He can be a risky play, but Bess isn't a bad option as a late-round option on your bench. In deep leagues, he could be a WR3.
He caught 43 passes for 615 yards and 1 TD last season. He has said that he wants to catch 10 TDs this year. Okay, you do that Brian and I'll definitely pay you more attention. He doesn't look like your typical "speedster" but a career 15 YPC average is pretty good, and with Marshall and Bess handling the underneath, that could leave Hartline with more opportunities downfield. But there might be another name you'll be hearing on deep threats this season...
Edmond "Clyde" Gates
Drafted as Edmond Gates, he now goes by Clyde, and so far he's one heck of a story. How that story ends has yet to be determined, but Gates story in football didn't even start until he a couple of years after high school. He had a rough time of it growing up with a father doing an 18-year prison sentence for murder, and he planned to pursue a career in basketball, but he was dismissed from Tyler Junior College after his freshman season. He was recruited to play football at Abilene Christian because of his blazing speed and caught on quickly enough to grab 66 balls for 1,182 yards and 13 TDs in his final season at Abilene. He posted the fastest 40 time at the combine with a 4.37 and that led to him getting selected in the 4th round by the Dolphins. Think about that. A few years ago he had never played football and was dreaming of going to the NBA, and now he's in the NFL. How many kids dream of playing in the NFL their entire life, work their butts of to accomplish that goal, and never even get close? It just came naturally to Gates.
He's still learning how to play the game, and how he'll fit into the Dolphins playbook, but he's got all the natural ability in the world to potentially be a really interesting wideout. He's not draftable, but keep an eye on him, especially if your league counts return yards. He could rack up a lot of those too.
You'd think that the Dolphins TE position would be an enviable one, what with the notion that it is an efficient pass-offense. It's not pass-happy, it feels more like "Okay, get 5 yards as often as possible" and so you'd think Fasano would be a 70-catch beast with 900 yards. Instead he had 39 grabs for 528 yards and 4 TDs. It's respectable. It's not starting fantasy TE worthy. He's a backup TE option, and I don't really even recommend having a backup TE. That's like having a backup blender. Why do you need 2 blenders?
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