The most relevant element at play for either of Miami’s new quarterbacks is this receiving corps. Whether it ultimately is Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen starting come Week 1 or Week 17, it could be easily argued no team has less with which to work in the pass-catching department.
Before we go down that road, a quick rehash of how we arrived at this point:
Fitz has pitched a few impressive games in his NFL career, and Rosen was the 10th overall pick in 2018’s NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. Now they are pitted in the time-tested saga of age vs. youth. A fresh coaching regime led to the Cards dealing Rosen to Miami after selecting Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray No. 1 overall in April’s draft. The Dolphins are expected to have an open competition for the starting gig in the summer. An early estimate suggests Fitzpatrick has a slight edge. History proposes even if he wins the job in camp, it won’t last long after he goes on a turnover spree.
Both quarterbacks have demonstrated the need for a clean pocket to live up to their respective potential. Rosen was sacked a whopping 45 times in 13 starts last year, making it awfully difficult to accurately assess his NFL development. Fitzpatrick hasn’t been abused quite like that in his NFL career, largely due to underrated mobility. Fitz has made his fair share of plays on the move, but we’ve all seen him go haywire under duress. Sometimes, he just gets too cute and overly aggressive trying to make something happen, irrelevant to what is going on in pass protection.
Naturally, looking at the big guys up front is the next step. The offensive line is also a major concern. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil anchors the front five, and veteran right tackle Jordan Mills comes over from Buffalo after making every start in the last three years for the Bills. The established play ends there. The interior of the line has the potential to be downright ugly. Guard Chris Reed has almost no experience to speak of, starting eight of 25 career games over three abbreviated seasons in Jacksonville. He should be challenged by third-round rookie Michael Deiter this summer. Center Daniel Kilgore (torn triceps) missed 12 games in 2018 and has started 16 contests in a single season just once in his eight-year NFL career. Jesse Davis has started 26 of 32 games in his two years with the Dolphins but is hardly an irreplaceable commodity.
Having a capable rushing game helps keep defenses honest and allows quarterbacks a chance to buy time through play-action passing. Miami’s ground attack is a work in progress, but there’s definite potential if Kenyan Drake can be properly utilized. Kalen Ballage offers a capable change-up as a big-bodied bruiser with a home run element. Running backs coach Eric Studesville has a proven track record, and the offensive system will cater to putting the backs in space.
Offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea may be a rookie play-caller, but he comes with the pedigree and surrounding coaches to succeed — relative to the on-field talent. A long-time New England Patriots wide receivers coach (2009-18), O’Shea will deploy a quick-hitting aerial game and play-action passing, utilizing the middle of the field with consistency.
The receiving personnel will have to surprise in a major way to put either Fitzpatrick or Rosen on the fantasy radar. DeVante Parker was a shocking re-sign this offseason, and he’ll lean on a new coaching staff to get the most out of his talents. Injuries are his primary enemy, however. There’s little doubt he has the natural ability, so it will require luck and coaxing to see it come together on the field.
Kenny Stills has been a downfield asset in his career, and he is just 27 years old entering his fifth year with the Dolphins. Defenses must account for his wheels at all times, and he has the makeup to be a Fitzpatrick favorite. Rosen’s vertical game is not exactly conducive to finding Stills with regularity.
Brice Butler will vie for playing time, and he’s inconsistent but talented. The most intriguing options could be found in the development of Jakeem Grant (Achilles) and Isaiah Ford out of the slot. Albert Wilson (hip) also is in the mix for the inside receiving role. Regardless of which player mans this spot, the slot role is expected to be a staple in O’Shea’s system.
Tight end Mike Gesicki is a potential source for unexpected production. He was a second-round pick in 2018 and wasn’t given much of a chance to shine as a rookie. The Dolphins have Dwayne Allen as a possible weapon, too, at the position. Both players could manage to post respectable numbers if the offensive line cannot hold up in protection. Allen is the better blocker of the duo, which could come in handy should the line nee more help.
Fantasy football outlook
It’s obvious that without a known starter, giving fantasy advice is a shot in the dark. In the event Fitzpatrick is the starter, expect him to give way to Rosen at some point in 2019. We’ve seen enough of Fitz to know what to expect, which is a few flashes of sheer genius and some befuddling play mixed in. The long-ball game is his preference, which also gets Fitzpatrick in trouble.
The receiving targets just aren’t good enough to be optimistic of anything better, regardless of how well Fitz himself performs. Leave him on the wire in drafts. He offers scant upside for the wire and is playable in DFS with the appropriate matchups.
Rosen has the same problems with targets, and he’s also still raw. Quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell will help mold the second-year slinger, but Rosen’s trajectory likely puts him a year or more away from being anything worthwhile in fantasy. We’ve see major turnarounds before (think Jared Goff), but in scenarios where the surrounding talent was among the best in football — hardly the case in South Florida.
Dinking and dunking will be Rosen’s style until he displays more comfort within the offense, and much of that comfort is reliant on the O-line giving him time to pass. While he has more upside, in theory, than Fitzpatrick, and he is the future, Rosen’s 2019 prospects in fantasy are rather dismal.