The Miami Dolphins were an interesting fantasy team one year ago. Players such as running back Jay Ajayi and receiver Kenny Stills had unexpected breakout seasons, and receiver Jarvis Landry made the Pro Bowl for the second time.
On Friday we projected numbers for Miami's three-headed wide receiver group. Now, let's take an in-depth look at the rest of its skill players on offense.
No. 1: QB Ryan Tannehill
2016 stats: 2,995 yards, 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Analysis: Tannehill is among the trickiest projections in the NFL this year. He played the best and most efficient football of his career in 2016 by going 8-5 as a starter. Yet, it is fair to wonder whether that was Tannehill's ceiling and if he can bounce back from a tough knee injury that kept him out of the last four games of the season, which included a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tannehill didn't need surgery to repair his sprained ACL and MCL. But will this impact his playing style and durability? Tannehill's mobility looked fine in the spring, but that's without contact. These numbers assume he's able to stay healthy.
2017 projections: 3,875 yards, 25 touchdowns, 15 interceptions
No. 2: RB Ajayi
2016 stats: 1,272 rushing yards, 151 receiving yards, eight touchdowns
Analysis: A player with much fewer questions entering the season is Ajayi, who was Miami's breakout player a year ago and made the Pro Bowl. Ajayi started just 12 games last season and put up huge numbers. This is the first season entering as the known starter and Ajayi has more confidence and swagger that he can carry the load. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said he won't be afraid to give Ajayi 350 carries if needed this season. Ajayi also has worked diligently on catching the football out of the backfield, which to date is his biggest weakness. Ajayi should have a monster year and could put up 1,900 total yards if he stays healthy.
2017 projections: 1,435 rushing yards, 482 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns.
No. 3: TE Julius Thomas
2016 stats: 30 receptions, 281 yards, four touchdowns
Analysis: Thomas is happy to be reunited with Gase after two frustrating seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gase knows how to get the most out of Thomas and the tight end has high hopes he can return to the form he showed when he had 24 touchdowns in two seasons with the Denver Broncos. After a slow start, the early chemistry between Tannehill and Thomas picked up in later practices open to the media, which is a good sign. The Dolphins believe Thomas can reach double-digit touchdowns again, similar to what he did in Denver. However, I'm skeptical there are enough footballs to accomplish that feat. Either way, Thomas will be an upgrade over Miami's poor production at the position last season.
2017 projections: 43 receptions, 520 yards, seven touchdowns