The Miami Dolphins spent 2019 Tanking for Tua, but Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Ryan Fitzpatrick almost blew that. They got Tua Tagovailoa in the draft, but uncertainty surrounding his hip means we are likely to get more Ryan Fitzmagic for the 2020 Miami Dolphins. They went out and revamped a running back room that was so terrible and so poorly used last season that Ryan Fitzpatrick led the 2019 Miami Dolphins in rushing, with 243 rushing yards. Yikes, they were a mess. That’s probably why two of the three players on their sleeper, breakout and bust list were on different squads in 2019 (and one is my eternal crush)!
Sleeper – Mike Gesicki, Tight End (TE14, 121 overall)
Of course, it is. I am the conductor of the Michael J. Gesicki Express, a train that takes everyone who gets aboard to fantasy football glory. Gesicki ended last season as TE11 or TE12, depending on your format, and given that he’s going in the double-digit rounds, nobody seems to believe that he can do it again. I’ll put this as plainly as possible: Mike Gesicki can’t block, so the Dolphins don’t use him as a real tight end. Instead, he’s a 6’6” 247 pound, extremely athletic slot receiver. He had the third-most tight end deep targets last year, and the fourth-highest contested catch rate among tight ends. Gesicki is really good and is going to be a tight end cheat code this year a la Marques Colston’s rookie year when he was a TE-eligible player playing wide receiver.
I have Gesicki as a top-seven tight end this year, which makes him a slam dunk pick for me in the ninth round in every single draft. Some people want to point to Preston Williams’ return as a cause for concern for Gesicki, but first of all, we don’t know how Preston Williams’ ACL tear is recovering and second of all, Preston Williams did not change Gesicki’s usage last season. Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki played together without Josh Rosen in three games last season, and in those games, Gesicki ranked as TE12 in all formats on four receptions for 49 yards per game. After Preston Williams went out, Gesicki averaged 40 yards on 4 catches per game; nearly the same. The real mess came at the beginning of the season before Rosen hit the bench for good; Gesicki averaged two catches for 20 yards per game in this stretch.
Don’t fear Mike Gesicki. Fear not having Mike Gesicki. And the reaper (so by extension, the wind and the sun and the rain).
Breakout – Jordan Howard, Running Back (RB37, 97 overall)
Matt Breida and Jordan Howard get the double-dip treatment here, as I will address both of them together in this section. First, I think the Dolphins will tap Jordan Howard as the lead back in this backfield, and Matt Breida will be the change-of-pace back and the guy on the short side of the platoon. It’s a pretty simple conclusion for me, as their careers to this point clearly show Howard as a lead back and Matt Breida better suited in a smaller, home run hitting role.
First, let’s take a look at Jordan Howard’s entire career to this point. He suffered a neck stinger and faded to the background after Miles Sanders kicked the door down to announce his NFL arrival. Prior to that point, however, Jordan Howard was on pace for over 1,000 yards and eleven touchdowns. If you take out a couple of games at the beginning of the season when they tried to really make Miles Sanders a thing before he was ready, the pace was 15 carries a game for 73 yards and a touchdown per game. He was very useful last year as a traditional running back.
That’s been Jordan Howard’s career M.O.. He’s a great traditional running back who has a limited pass-catching ability. Over the course of his four seasons, he averages ten touchdowns on just under 1,300 yards per sixteen games. Had he not gotten hurt last year, he would have been one of three players to have over 4,000 rushing yards between 2016 and 2019. He will get the role of the big side of the platoon because that’s how he is good.
Bust – Matt Breida, Running Back (RB36, 96 overall)
Then we get to Matt Breida. He’s really exciting! I’m a 49ers fan, trust me, I know all about the excitement contained in one Matt Breida. Unfortunately, like a piñata, getting to the tasty goodness inside Breida involves breaking him. He can’t take too many hits, and frequently left games early or gritted through injuries in his time in San Francisco. That has a profile of someone who… probably should get fewer touches. He’s best suited topping out at 10-12 carries per game in a part-time role. That limits his injuries and maximizes his availability. This is truly how I see the Breida-Howard split break down.
That isn’t to say that Breida won’t be very good in his role, and won’t have fantasy football value! He has seven games over 100 total yards in his career, which means he has the upside. If the Dolphins are smart (big if) however, they will keep him out from between the tackles as much as possible, especially at the goal line. This will limit his fantasy football value and accentuate Howard’s. Either way, expect glowing “Thunder & Lightning” puff pieces on them this season. Breida will just be the lesser value for fantasy football.
BONUS SLEEPER – Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback (QB29, 206 overall)
I debated having Tua in this article, but after putting together the Breida/Howard yin and yang I decided to just make this a supersized Sleeper, Breakout and Bust article. That’s right, the super high-flying Miami Dolphins get the treatment, and not, say, the Chiefs. Or the Ravens. Nope, the Dolphins. Anyway, Tua Tagovailoa’s hip is a major concern; he fractured it last season against Mississippi State. The Miami Dolphins likely redshirt Tua to make sure that he is good to go for 2021, but if he ends up getting the nod, he has league-winning upside. Here’s the short descriptor: Russell Wilson’s arm and athleticism with Drew Brees’ processor and release. If he gets his shot, he’s a fantasy football league winner.