Outside of the strange Brian Flores saga, the Dolphins have done a tremendous job of executing their rebuild plan. In fact, other teams like the Detroit Lions have started copying parts of their tank/rebuild playbook. They tanked pretty hard by letting guys leave and then played with a skeleton crew to acquire capital and push money forward. Then they built a team from the inside out with guys like Terron Armstead and Christian Wilkins, hit on a quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, added some core weapons like Jaylen Waddle, Tyreek Hill, and they can now go after the last remaining luxury pieces to make a run. Assuming the QB comes back healthy and ready to go, their window to compete for a championship has been cracked wide open.
With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.
BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value
HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.
SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.
SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.
*Contract information is proved courtesy of Spotrac.com*
Miami Dolphins Quarterback
The Dolphins have two quarterbacks under contract for 2023.
Tua Tagovailoa - age 25
Contract: Tua Tagovailoa is signed through 2023. As a first round pick, they could pick up his fifth-year option and have him under contract for 2024 as well for a projected ~$22.4 million. The deadline to make that decision is May 1 of this year.
Outlook: Typically you would look at a player like this and his quality of play on the field and it would be simple - if they can’t figure out a long-term extension for him this year, you pick up the fifth-year option and work on it for next year. But health concerns have complicated those decisions from both the young quarterback's perspective and the team.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - This is a risk to a certain degree given the situation. And it’s not just the concussions as Tua has had multiple serious injuries going back to his time at Alabama. But these are the exact types of situations where we like to roll the dice looking for an advantage. Past injuries and off-field concerns can sometimes lower the perceived value of a player and then guess what? They end up being tremendous ON the field. Just look at Tua’s teammate Tyreek Hill, who you could have bought in dynasty for pennies on the dollar in past seasons. Right now the recent concussions are the main concern but Dolphins general manager Chris Grier does not believe that will be a reoccurring issue for Tua. And a number of doctors seem to be backing up that claim. Now, Tua may decide to hang it up early like linebacker Chris Borland or fellow quarterback Andrew Luck but he also might not in which case you just got a discount on a young quarterback with multiple elite weapons and a talented, offensive-minded head coach. We've seen folks suggest that players like Davante Adams and Brandin Cooks should retire after multiple concussions early in their career but they both went on to play many more years.
Skylar Thompson - age 25
Contract: Skylar Thompson is signed through 2025 on a rookie contract.
Outlook: You can’t really ask much more from your third string quarterback - he stepped in when needed and took the division rival Buffalo Bills down to the wire in a playoff game.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Thompson probably only has value in superflex or two quarterback leagues, if that. He essentially had zero value before BOTH quarterbacks got hurt so, if you can cash out now, do it. Otherwise, he’s not necessarily worth holding onto since, if Tua isn’t the guy, it probably isn’t Thompson either.
FREE AGENTS: Teddy Bridgewater
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
If Tua is playing then he’s the guy. He showed enough this year and the team seems to be behind him. If he’s not playing, this team is already entering their “win now” window so they would immediately be looking to trade for a veteran quarterback. Names like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Derek Carr would likely be on the menu. They paid big money for Terron Armstead and Tyreek Hill plus they have key rookie contract windows open like Jaylen Waddle so they can’t leave anything to chance. And no, Teddy Bridgewater is not the answer.
Miami Dolphins Running Backs
The Dolphins don’t currently have any running backs under contract. They have one fullback under contract for 2023 in Alec Ingold.
Salvon Ahmed - age 24
Contract: He’s not technically signed but they have the option to retain him as a restricted free agent in 2023.
Outlook: RFA deals are usually fairly cheap and affordable so they might retain him simply as depth since they have no one signed now and he's been a serviceable player.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - If he was going to carve out a role with this team he would have done so this season when it was a fairly open competition (they paid Chase Edmonds in the offseason then traded him away so no one was really a lock). He was passed over was Mike McDaniel brought in familiar players from his time with San Francisco.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
This backfield is currently WIDE open and this team is ready to compete now so they can afford to go after a high-end luxury piece like a running back. And, with Mike McDaniel calling the plays running behind the likes of Terron Armstead, it’s an absolutely juicy landing spot. There are a number of backs that could hit the market and immediately be studs in Miami if they could somehow afford it like Saquon Barkley or Josh Jacobs. Or they could target a guy like Bijan Robinson in the draft. It’s because of this that I would personally try to sell guys like Raheem Mostert (30 years old) and Jeff Wilson (27 years old) in dynasty if you can find a buyer. Yes, they could end up back with the Dolphins but they are already towards the back end of the age apex for backs and that’s really the only landing spot left where they would thrive. They can’t go back to the 49ers with CMC and Elijah Mitchell there and Robert Saleh, the other coach from the Kyle Shanahan tree, already has backs of his own.
Miami Dolphins Wide Receivers
The Dolphins have five wide receivers under contract with another one signed to reserve/future contracts.
Tyreek Hill - age 28
Contract: Tyreek Hill is currently under contract through 2026. They have potential outs from his contract starting in 2025 though it would still carry ~$10 million in dead cap.
Outlook: There were concerns that Tyreek Hill might not be the same player he was without Patrick Mahomes. Or that it might be too crowded with Jaylen Waddle. Well, we can put those concerns to bed as he finished as the WR2 this season in PPR.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - There have been so many opportunities to acquire this guy at a discount. He started off as a fifth-round rookie so he was basically free. Off-field issues stemming from his time in college kept his value fairly low early on. Then there was the scare some folks may forget regarding his son breaking his arm in 2019. Most recently, his dynasty value dipped drastically with this trade. If you didn’t acquire him before now, it’s likely too expensive to go out and buy him so it may not be worth it given the new round of quarterback concerns. If you have him, you should be happy you’ve held and you should continue to start him every single week as a WR1. If you CAN get him at a reasonable price and you’re competing to win now, do it.
Jaylen Waddle - age 24
Contract: Jaylen Waddle is under contract on his rookie deal through 2024 though, because he was a first round pick, they can pick up his fifth year option for 2025.
Outlook: Waddle is clearly locked in as the second wide receiver alongside Tyreek Hill, playing a massive snap share and enjoying a rock solid 21.6% target share this year. He’s still only 24 years old and doesn’t turn 25 until November of 2023.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - This is the EXACT kind of player we like to buy in fantasy football. There is this negative stigma that fantasy gamers have about being a team’s “WR2” that hurts their perceived value when it really shouldn’t. Maybe it’s confusion between “real world WR2” and “fantasy WR2” but they don’t realize that, as long as the targets are highly consolidated, it doesn’t matter if you are the second pass catcher or the first. Being a top two pass catcher in prolific offenses is often much better than being the number one pass catcher on bad ones. We’ve seen it with Mike Evans/Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown/JuJu Smith-Schuster, Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders, Justin Jefferson/Adam Thielen, etc. With tandems like that, someone is going to be the “WR2” even though they are both WR1s in fantasy football. Tyreek Hill also turns 29 in a little over a month from now and Waddle is five years younger. Go get him.
Cedrick Wilson - age 27
Contract: Cedrick Wilson is signed through 2024. Releasing him post June 1 would carry $7 million in dead cap with only $2 million in savings but he could be traded with $2 million in dead cap and $7 million in savings.
Outlook: This signing didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me from the start, especially when they franchise tagged Mike Gesicki. But then neither of them were particularly relevant as Durham Smythe, Alec Ingold, and Trent Sherfield played a ton of snaps. Just not a good signing for Miami.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP. SELL/DROP. You have to imagine the Dolphins would be willing to trade him for anything, even a seventh round pick, just for the cap space. Maybe keep an eye on him to see if someone wants to do that (maybe Wilson's old friend Jerry Jones would consider it). But he wasn’t terribly effective over in Dallas either. He’s already 27 so his dynasty upside is pretty brutal. You can probably drop him in most formats.
Erik Ezukanma - age 22
Contract: Erik Ezukanma was a fourth round pick in 2022 so he is under contract through 2025. He’s due roughly a million dollars in 2023, half of which would be dead cap if he were released.
Outlook: Despite being a fourth round pick, Ezukanma only saw the field in one game - the week 18 game where the Dolphins rested many starters. He faces a fairly uphill battle
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP. Amon-Ra St. Brown’s success might have folks feeling like fourth round picks have decent odds to succeed but the numbers actually show that’s not really true. For every ARSB or Jamison Crowder that come out of the fourth round and have a solid career, there are about 19 other guys who do nothing. The roster spot is likely more valuable.
RESERVE/FUTURE: Braylon Sanders
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
Here is the reality of offenses with a fullback. You start 11 guys in football. Let’s say you have five linemen, three wide receivers, a quarterback, a tight end, and a running back as your starters. When you bring that fullback into the game, who is most likely to come out? Not the RB or tight end. So it’s typically a WR. That alone caps the ceiling for the third WR. And Ingold himself played almost 40% of the snaps in this offense. So I’m not going to be particularly interested in any third WR here nor am I concerned that they spend up on the position in any way. They will probably add a little depth for cheap. That makes Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle two of the safest assets in dynasty fantasy football.
Miami Dolphins Tight Ends
The Dolphins have three tight ends under contract.
Durham Smythe - age 27
Contract: Durham Smythe is signed through 2023 though he could be released with $3.5 million in cap savings and $750,000 in dead cap.
Outlook: The reality is that Durham Smythe was the starting in-line tight end for this team. He missed a game but in the vast majority of the games he played, he was playing a healthy 60-70% of the snaps. But he’s also a primary blocking tight end so he was not a viable fantasy option in any way.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - If you can convince someone that Durham Smythe will all of a sudden be fantasy relevant when Mike Gesicki is gone then you are a master salesman. But that’s simply not going to happen given his profile and track record (and the fact that they have two target hog WRs in front of him). So you don’t need to hold Smythe.
Hunter Long - age 24
Contract: Hunter Long is a former third round pick and is under contract through 2024.
Outlook: At Boston College he was primarily a pass catching tight end but his start in the NFL has been less than ideal. You can blame part of it on injuries but, even when healthy, he hasn’t been cracking the lineup.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - You might think that, since I don’t like Durham Smythe, I might like third round pick Hunter Long. And that would be wrong. He’s been with the team two years now and has one reception. And the tight end coach for the new regime, Jon Embree, even went as far as to mention that at one point he didn’t even know if “football was important” to Long. It’s unlikely that at this stage of the game he turns around and takes on a big role so you don’t have to hold him.
Cethan Carter - age 27
Contract: Carter is signed through 2023 - he can be released for half a million in dead cap with $1.8 million in savings.
Outlook: Carter is more of a hybrid fullback/tight end. At 27 years old, he has 9 career catches.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Not a player you need to roster even in the deepest leagues.
FREE AGENTS: Mike Gesicki
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
They franchise-tagged Mike Gesicki only to hardly use him so there’s roughly zero chance Gesicki is back this year. They clearly want a two-way tight end in this offense that can both block and catch passes the way George Kittle did in San Francisco but, based on the usage of Durham Smythe, the blocking was the more important aspect. Fellow Kyle Shanahan disciple Robert Saleh went out and got TWO tight ends in free agency so I would not be surprised to see the Dolphins pursue someone this off-season. There are multiple high end tight ends available in the draft like Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, or Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave or they could pursue someone like Dalton Schultz in free agency.
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!
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