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The Dolphins Offense Is Mispriced In All Formats

It’s no secret the Miami Dolphins are a rebuilding franchise. They’re not coy about it, and everyone knows it. As such and evidenced by ADP, it would appear the community’s expected offensive output is exclusively draw plays and kneel downs, and for the team to concede each game before it’s played. Needless to say, there is exploitability here.

I’m going to walk through the pricing of each skill positional grouping in both best ball and dynasty formats and discuss how this situation can be best exploited.

First we can get a visual of dynasty ADP by position.

 
Player Position Team Drafts ADP (Last 5 Picks) ADP (Period) Earliest Latest Std Dev
Kenyan Drake RB MIA 64 73.6 73.6 50 106 10.9
Kalen Ballage RB MIA 60 151.8 148.4 89 211 24.0

For a reference point, Kenyan Drake is RB28 and Kalen Ballage is RB54

 
Player Position Team Drafts ADP (Last 5 Picks) ADP (Period) Earliest Latest Std Dev
Albert Wilson WR MIA 51 166.4 184.5 50 286 40.6
DeVante Parker WR MIA 62 170.0 173.7 103 237 27.2
Kenny Stills WR MIA 60 194.4 166.2 88 258 32.6

Kenny Stills is WR66, DeVante Parker is WR73 and Albert Wilson is WR78

 
Player Position Team Drafts ADP (Last 5 Picks) ADP (Period) Earliest Latest Std Dev
Mike Gesicki TE MIA 60 180.4 161.0 110 203 22.1

Mike Gesicki is TE20.

The extent of the pricing depression across the board boggles the mind once we consider the oldest player referenced above is entering their age-27 season.

Could it just be that the dynasty community is hesitant to invest in this team due to concerns of replacements brought in via the 2020 draft? Let’s check out best ball ADP to see if there’s more reasonableness to the pricing in a one-year format.

There’s very little change here from dynasty pricing. Drake is the RB25 with an ADP of 51.5 and Ballage is the RB57 with an ADP of 167.7

Stills is the WR59 with an ADP of 154.8

Parker is the WR75 with an ADP of 194.8

Wilson is the WR66 with an ADP of 167.8

It should be noted that in the last week, Parker and Wilson are on pace to collide and swap spots. These best ball ADPs are also eerily similar to their respective dynasty ADPs.

Gesicki is the TE24 with an ADP of 185.1. Again, eerily similar to dynasty ADP.

Okay, you get it, there are no Dolphins the community is prioritizing for their rosters. Why is that incorrect?

For starters, the coaching change just simply cannot be understated. No matter what you think of the ousted Adam Gase (it shouldn’t be much), there is no denying he attempted to serve himself financially and extend his tenure by another season with the way he approached the 2018 season. While the roster itself certainly had no shortage of holes, Gase did not attempt to overcome a talent deficiency and shoot for the team’s theoretical ceiling, he instead aimed for the middle. Instead of getting the ball into the hands of his most talented players as often as possible, he approached the season with a “three yards and a cloud of dust mentality,” in a literal sense. Instead of trying to unlock the skill set of his able WR corps, getting the ball into the hands of his highly productive running back and trying to develop his insanely athletic tight end, he chose instead to ride grinder Frank Gore. He played slow and ran often, trying to shorten games and for the team to look just good enough to save his own skin from the unemployment line. After all, he had no way of knowing he would find the perfect match of ineptitude with his new franchise in New York.

As mentioned, this team is rebuilding. The roster is not the greatest, and they will be trailing a good amount of games. There will be loads of garbage time to find fantasy points, and if they are truly one of the worst teams in the NFL, there will still be an abundance of targets to go around garnered from the necessity of a heavy pass-run split.

Who to buy?

I’m not going to pretend I have the coaching staff’s full plan for deployment, but assuming a moderate degree of health, it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that at least two of the mentioned players crush their ADP. Let’s take a look at who I view as the most likely to hit, in order of confidence.

Kenyan Drake

In random conversation, it’s quite apparent most believe Drake had a down or subpar 2018 campaign. He’s routinely shrugged off as an afterthought, even by some of the sharpest in the community. The reality of the matter is he finished as overall RB14 in total points scored and RB21 in PPG in full PPR formats, despite not leading his team in RB touches. He remains an explosive player and an exceptional receiver, and keeps a nose for the end zone. He scored nine of the Dolphins 33 offensive touchdowns last year, and showed what he’s capable of doing in a bell cow role to close 2017. The formula is far more simple than one would imagine with Drake: give him the ball and he will produce.

Some fun facts about Drake courtesy of the RotoViz Game Splits app:

  • Averages 11.38 PPR PPG in games with an offensive touch over the past two seasons. That figure is better than all but 30 RBs in 2018 and does not account for or adjust for his seven total touches in the first six weeks of 2017.
  • Averages 16.24 PPR points in games with at least eight carries.
  • Averages 23.57 PPR points in games with at least 15 carries.
  • Averages 15.99 PPR points in games with at least four targets.
  • Averages 22.17 PPR points in games with at least seven targets.

The lowest average from the above figures is 15.99 PPR PPG. Only 10 RBs surpassed that average in 2018.

Drake is such an obvious value and one to overexpose yourself to in all formats. A high-end pass catcher on a bad team? Check. A consistent producer who is not reliant on volume? Check. A surefire RB1 when volume comes? Check. One hundred sixty-eight RB touches from 2018 vacated by the departure of Gore? Check. The easiest buy at price in fantasy football? Possibly.

DeVante Parker

I know, I get it. You don’t have to say it. Many are so jaded by Parker they’re at the point of no return, and if that’s you, it’s okay. I’ll try to bring you back to him anyway and tell you why he’s a simple buy.

Cost is the easiest argument to make for him in 2019. He’s a 15th-round best-ball pick and the equivalent price of a third-round rookie pick in dynasty formats.

The team did not give up on him. Parker was simply not a “Gase guy.” The former coach couldn’t help but make public comments that were difficult to construe as anything but unfavorable, and did not give him the playing time or role he truly deserved. While both Stills and Parker have NFL skill sets and are better than replacement-level players, Parker remains the only one with the ability to be an alpha in a receiving corps. While Gase couldn’t or wouldn’t grasp this fact, GM Chris Grier was not ready to give up on the able former first rounder, and brought him back on a front-loaded two-year $10M deal. This is probably the biggest factor in the potential delayed breakout of Parker. The team still has some level of belief in him, did not let him walk, nor did they add help at the position via free agency nor the draft. At his cost, there is real ceiling here with floor insulation.

Parker hasn’t been very efficient over the last two seasons, but his first two seasons in the league were likely better than you remember.

If he can bring his reFPOE back into the black in 2019, Parker may finally be able to have the breakout season we’ve been waiting for. With a new coaching staff, there some reason to believe Parker could regain his former efficiency.

Here’s a fun stat from the Rotoviz Game Splits App to push you over the edge on Parker. He averages 13.11 PPR in games he has three or more catches. Of course it’s not apples to apples, but it is truly difficult to envision a scenario where Parker plays a full 16 games and logs fewer than 48 catches (average of three per game).

Take the plunge one last time before throwing in the towel.

Mike Gesicki

Gesicki is the biggest unknown on this list, and, not to split hairs, is probably a better buy in dynasty leagues than best ball leagues.

For all intents and purposes, he’s entering his first meaningful year in the NFL. He had a forgettable rookie campaign, catching 22 of 32 targets for 202 yards and no scores. He was not set up to succeed by Gase (shocker) and was another victim of talent being smothered in Gase’s unsuccessful attempt to smother Dolphin fans, players and fantasy football owners for another season.

The athleticism here remains immense and the sky remains the limit for Gesicki. When he will put it together remains a large question mark — hence he is perhaps a better dynasty than best ball buy — but historically TEs with his draft capital break out most often in Year 2. There is also absolutely zero in terms of in-house competition. Dwayne Allen and blocker Durham Smythe are the next best options on the roster, meaning Gesicki will get every chance to show what he can do.

The rest

Ballage was not a player I graded favorably as a draft prospect and I remain skeptical on his ability. However, he has very little in-house competition and would be the favorite for the first crack at a lead back role, should something happen to Drake. He will also likely see change-of-pace two-down snaps, but not enough to be best-ball viable without a Drake injury.

Both Wilson and Stills are players highly likely to outperform their ADP, but both lack true ceiling. They simply are not long on ability and are not players to be featured in any offense under any circumstance, but remain quality role players. At the very least, don’t fade them in your best ball portfolio. They remain just desperation flex options for dynasty purposes and are better best ball targets than dynasty targets.

Image Credit: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Kenyan Drake.

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