AFC East: The All-Encompassing 2014 Divisional Preview

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Jul 25, 2014; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) signs autographs after the teams practice at Miami Dolphins Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins

Offseason Recap

In general, the least talked about position in football is the offensive line. That’s not the case in Miami. After the debacle surrounding offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito during the 2013 season, the Dolphins’ line made headlines for different reasons during the 2014 offseason.

First, the team brought in coveted left tackle Brandon Albert through free agency. Then, in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Dolphins selected  tackle Ja’Wuan James with their first selection, followed by guard Billy Turner in the third round. Hopefully the offensive line makes headlines for different reasons in 2014.

Further, the Dolphins signed free agent running back Knowshon Moreno–who’s considered an elite blocker at his position–to help protect their franchise quarterback.

Most Important Player in 2014 not Named Ryan Tannehill

Mike Pouncey

If the Dolphins are to succeed in 2014 it’ll be on the arm of Ryan Tannehill. If Ryan Tannehill is to succeed in 2014, the offensive line must do a better job protecting their franchise quarterback (in 2013, Tannehill was sacked an NFL-high 58 times–that’s ten more than any other quarterback in the NFL). If the offensive line is to succeed in 2014, center, Mike Pouncey, who’s currently injured, will have to dominate–as he has since being drafted in 2011–in pass protection.

Simple as that.

The Dolphins Make the Playoffs If …

*See above.*

Regular Season Record


Bold Prediction

The Dolphins finish in the basement of the AFC East.

Fantasy Stud (Standard Scoring)

Lamar Miller

The Dolphins made a concerted effort to upgrade their offensive line in the offseason. Good idea. After finishing the 2013 season as one of the worst offensive lines in NFL history, the Dolphins brought in Pro Bowl left tackle Brandon Albert through free agency. In the draft, the Dolphins used their first pick on Ja’Wuan James, an unheralded tackle from the University of Tennessee. Then, in the third round, the Dolphins selected small-school (Northern Dakota State) guard Billy Turner. With the return of the injured Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins have the chance to vastly improve their line play in 2014: with that, expect a breakout year for third-year back Lamar Miller.

What’s more, the Dolphins brought in former Eagle’s coordinator Bill Lazor who, in 2013, helped LeSean McCoy rush for a league-high 1,607 yards.

The chance is there for Lamar Miller to breakout in 2014: don’t be surprised if Miller gains 1,500 yards from scrimmage with 9-10 total touchdowns.

Fantasy Dud (Standard Scoring)

Knowshon Moreno

As a ‘Dawgs fan, it always pains me to speak poorly about a UGA product. Unfortunately, all signs point to a disappointing campaign for Moreno in 2014. He reportedly came into Dolphins’ camp out of shape. He’s getting up there in age, and the lifespan of an NFL running back, in general, is very short. Further, he’s coming off a year in which he had a career-high 241 carries.

Add that all up, and it look like ‘Air Moreno’ is in for a disappointing year in 2014.

Fantasy Sleeper

Mike Wallace

Yes, Wallace is a household name, but with a current ADP of #34 among wide receivers, expect Wallace to outperform his draft position. Most believe that Wallace disappointed during his first season in Miami, but the numbers paint a different picture: he finished with 73 receptions, 930 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns. Not stellar numbers, but remember–Wallace now has a year of experience with Ryan Tannehill, and, with improved offensive line play, Wallace should have more chances to make plays downfield.

Don’t be surprised if Wallace finishes with numbers in the range of 75/1,300/7, good enough for WR2 numbers in 2014.