Miami has made it through this season relatively unscathed by severe injuries, however this past week alone cost the Dolphins three players and one of those the second one at the same position. With Richard Marshall already done for the year, his replacement Nolan Carroll injured his knee last week and figures to be out of action this week.
The Dolphins made a move to claim Dimitri Patterson, 5-10 200 lbs. off the waiver wire from Cleveland to replace Carroll. Patterson has 5 career interceptions, and singed a 3 year 16 million dollar deal similar to that of Marshall this offseason with Cleveland. With Miami absorbing the rest of his contract, it is believe that he may be here longer than just these two final regular season games, they may give him a look for next season as well even when Marshall and Carroll get back.
MDD Staff Writer: Chad Pullen
RB Reggie Bush
Most fantasy leagues have their final games this week, and Bush is only 105 yards short of 1,000 for the season, and with his impending free agency, it is likely that he would like to get there and do it quickly. Buffalo’s defense has been lacking all season long, however they proved very difficult to move the ball on in their first meeting back in November. Miami should hope to get out to a fast start, and let Reggie carry the load offensively. With backup RB Daniel Thomas out, it could mean even more touches for Reggie who will only need to share carries with rookie RB Lamar Miller. Bush is one of the few Dolphins that may have been on active fantasy rosters all season, he should be a fairly decent second back/flex play for those that reached their championship.
WR Brian Hartline
Brian has reached the thousand yard mark for the first time in his career; however only having one touchdown is what keeps him from being a very reliable #2 receiver on most fantasy rosters. It was Hartline’s fumble that started a snowball effect in falling behind the Bills in their first matchup; he should be looking to get some payback against a defense that gave up 50 last week, to a team the Dolphins defeated. He should be a viable flex option this week.
QB Ryan Tannehill
The only reason Tannehill would play for you in the championship game is if your starting QB is injured and you need a waiver claim to fill the spot. Tannehill struggled a bit against Buffalo, but has played much better since then with 4 touchdowns and only 1 interception in the past four games. That includes facing the Seahawks, Patriots, and 49ers defenses, three teams with much tougher defenses than the Bills. Miami should feel more comfortable at home and Buffalo knows that their season is effectively over in 10 days, there is a chance for Tannehill and the offense to get some retribution for their November showing at Buffalo.
WR Davone Bess – Back
Many thought the offense would struggle without Bess in the lineup who missed his first career game, however the Dolphins offense managed four very long distance drives after a slow start and they cruised to victory. Bess had a decent game against the Bills their first matchup including his only touchdown this season late in the fourth quarter. Even with the slimmest of playoff hopes, it would be beneficial to the offense to have Bess back in there and allow Tannehill that security blanket on third downs.
OLB Koa Misi – Ankle
Misi did not practice today instead working out on the exercise bike. Jason Trusnik started in his place last week and played well including a great chase down tackle on fourth and inches.
TE Charles Clay – Knee
Clay has been placed on IR, ending his season. Much was expected of Clay this season however early on he struggled mightily with the new offense, however the past few weeks he had started to show some of those flashes he had his rookie season. Clay should be back next season and hopefully will have a better grasp of the offense and start to play more consistently starting week one.
RB Daniel Thomas – KneeThomas has been placed on IR, ending his season as well. Each of Daniel’s first two seasons have been marred with injuries and he currently is not living up to his second round selection. There may be some rumblings as to whether or not Thomas should be back for the Dolphins next season.
CB Nolan Carroll – Knee
Carroll has not been placed on IR yet, but the signing of Patterson signifies that Carroll may be done for the final two games this season.
Before the Draft even begins in late April, the Free Agency period will also offer up a chance to improve the team and address some needs while the draft offers a chance to fill in the rest of the roster as well as bring youth onto the team. For instance if the Dolphins were able to lure two key free agent receivers, then the draft need of WR becomes obsolete. So this week we will take a look at a couple of free agnets that could make sense for the Dolphins and allow them to reallocate their draft picks to some other areas of need or even just deepening the roster.
RB Chris Johnson, 5 years, 7,000 yards and almost 50 career touchdowns. Will turn 28 at the start of next season, and has missed only one career game back in his rookie season. Bush is only a few months older, however with 2 more years in the league, and having missed several games in 4 of those 7 years. He has not missed games this year, but also has not been the same runner since tweaking his knee back in week 3. Bush has 4,000 yards and also almost 50 TD’s, though his are spread out through rushing, receiving, and punt returns. Johnson is looking at a roster bonus just five days after the super bowl in the neighborhood of 9 million dollars, if the Titans don’t wish to pay that and cut him loose, the Dolphins should absolutely give him a call as his speed is top notch and the Miami OLine is stronger than Tennessee’s meaning that Johnson may have a few more lanes to use that speed in Miami than he does in Tennessee.
WR Greg Jennings and TE Jermichael Finley. Natural fits as both played under Coach Joe Philbin and know the system well. On top of that, Philbin knows them well, and certainly knows they could produce in Miami without causing many headaches off the field. (Or on the field, for that matter) Finley has been a little underused in Green Bay with the array of weapons they have and Miami has been trying to upgrade the TE spot for a couple seasons now. Jennings would be an obvious upgrade at WR for a team desperate for one and he enters next season as a free agent, moving from Green Bay to Miami would seem like a bit of an upgrade in terms of living arrangements, it could prove useful if players get the feeling that the Dolphins are improving behind their franchise QB.
WR’s Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace. These players are a longer shot to make it to Miami as they have more reputational issues in terms of being “diva” wide receivers, something that Philbin does not appreciate. They do however, offer immediate upgrades at the position, Bowe being from the area, as well as being a good fit for the West Coast offense. Wallace is less of a fit for the offense, however has truly elite speed, and if Miami were to find a way to sign both Wallace and Chris Johnson, their offense would suddenly have the dynamic needed to keep opposing defenses spread thin.
WR Wes Welker, would need to come full circle coming back to Miami, however if New England is unwilling to give him the contract he wants, he knows the Miami area as well as filling a need and getting a shot at his old team twice a season. The Dolphins could move to four wide at times a lot like Philbin used to in Green Bay, and use both Welker and Bess in each slot creating headaches for opposing secondaries. Miami would only need to add one receiver in the draft to play outside with Hartline and they would suddenly be four deep at the position and give Tannehill plenty of tools to play with. They could also use 2012 seventh round pick Rishard Mathews on the outside if he shows enough during the offseason to make them believe he will be useful next year. If Miami is able to land any of these players on the offensive side of the ball, they could use their draft picks to bolster the defense with picks being used at the DE, CB, and Safety positions specifically.