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Miami Dolphins: 2018 NFL season preview and prediction

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Welcome back to our 2018 NFL season review series, where we're going to be taking a look at all 32 National Football League teams and how they stack up heading into the new season.

Last time out we previewed the Los Angeles Rams as they head into 2018 campaign. After an incredible debut season from head coach Sean McVay, the Rams should be looking to prove they aren't just a flash in the pan, and with the additions of Suh, Peters and Talib they should be aiming very high. You can take a look at that here...

Today we're turning our attention to a side that are finally getting their franchise quarterback under center after a year out. Welcome to the Miami Dolphins 2018 preview, let's get into it...

2017 Recap

What's the worst thing that can happen to an NFL team heading into a new season? Unless you're the Philadelphia Eagles, the answer to that will be losing your starting quarterback. Well, that's what the Dolphins had to go through last year, with Ryan Tannehill suffering a torn ACL in practice before the first game. 

And with that injury, a season that was hopefully going to end in Playoffs just turned into Dolphins fans wondering how high their draft pick would be. 

Jay Cutler decided to haul himself off the beach to fill in for Tannehill but the former Bears man shouldn't have bothered - putting in many underwhelming performances on his way to a 19 TD, 14 INT season where he averaged under 180 yards per outing. 

On October 31, after a humiliating 40-0 loss to the Ravens, Adam Gase found his scapegoat and traded Jay Ajayi away to the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles. Way to teach him a lesson, coach!

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots

The Dolphins went 2-7 after the Ajayi trade so congrats to Gase on cleaning up that team culture. Still, Kenyan Drake did well as Ajayi's replacement, averaging 4.8 YPC, while Reshad Jones was as dominating as ever at safety - proving himself to be one of the league's best at the position. 

But still, the Dolphins ended 2017 with a record of 6-10, missing the Playoffs and not having a single skill-position player reach 1,000 yards.

There wasn't much to cheer for Dolphins fans last year, so let's hope that things pick up with Tannehill back.

Free Agency Moves

Let's start with the outgoings. Gase made it a priority to get the talent he didn't like (or stood up to him) out of the team. That included Jarvis Landry - who was shipped off to the Cleveland Browns, Ndamukong Suh heading out west to the Los Angeles Rams and Mike Pouncy also heading to LA with the Chargers.

Lawrence Timmons disastrous spell in Miami is also over after he was released. 

To replace those big-time players, the Dolphins have tried to find value. Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson have joined the offense to offset the lack of Landry, while Frank Gore is in to lend an old head to the running back room with Drake. 

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts

That's all fine but there was one very bad move. Replacing Pouncey, a 3-time Pro Bowler, the Dolphins brought in Daniel Kilgore who isn't close to being as good as Pouncey and represents a real downgrade. At least he has Josh Sitton next to him to help pick up the slack. 

DRAFT RECAP

1st) Minkah Fitzpatrick - S, Alabama.
2nd) Mike Gesicki - TE, Penn State. 
3rd) Jerome Baker - OLB, Ohio State. 
4th) Durham Smythe - TE, Notre Dame.
4th) Kalen Ballage - HB, Arizona State.
6th) Cornell Armstrong - CB, Southern Miss.
7th) Quentin Poling - LB, Ohio.
7th) Jason Sanders - K, New Mexico.

FANS EYE VIEW

In all our 2018 previews we'll be speaking to a fan to get their opinion on the current state of their team. Representing the Dolphins is Sam Moores. You can drop a follow on Twitter here. These are his thoughts on the season ahead...

GMS: How would you rate the Miami offseason?

Jam-packed! There have been a lot of ins and outs in South Beach this spring\summer, especially at receiver. Adam Gase has finally got ‘his guys’ in Miami, creating a team atmosphere by trading and letting go of big personalities in Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry, and Mike Pouncey.

New throwing talent looks impressive as well as the different options on the defense side of the ball, this season is make or break for Coach Gase.

GMS: What's the general opinion of the job Adam Gase is doing?

This season is the 3rd in Gase’s tenure as Head Coach, the first season the Fins shocked the world by making the playoffs for the first time since 2008, Ryan Tannehill had an outstanding year before getting hurt. The second was a lot worse, going from 10-6 to 6-10, but that was without RT17, Jay Cutler was atrocious at QB, and the team still managed to win 6 games, with some impressive wins along the way.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Miami Dolphins

Like I’ve already said, this year will be crucial for Gase, Ryan Tannehill is back from injury and looking stronger and quicker than before. In my opinion, Gase is one of the best coaches in the league, so let’s hope the Fins new identity works!

GMS: What are your opinions on the state of the Dolphins offense?

There is plenty of good in the offense, Tannehill is the 2nd best QB in the division, behind Brady. Kenny Stills is a good deep threat as well as new additions Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson, who have both come in to replace Jarvis. They will have some big shoes to fill in the slot, with the latter also being used as an outside receiver.

At running back, Kenyan Drake can improve on his impressive form in the 2nd half of last season, he’ll learn a lot from veteran Frank Gore as well. What’s bad? DeVante Parker has been less than impressive over the last few years, this season will be huge, the former 1st round pick only scored 1 TD last year. The new look Offensive Line will be different, and hopefully back to 2016 form!

Mike Gesicki is a good draft pick at Tight End, he has impressed in the end zone so far in Training Camp.

GMS: Conversely, your thoughts on the state of the defense?

The Miami D has had a lot of question marks over the years, especially at Linebacker. There is a lot of depth at Safety, Pro-Bowler Reshad Jones is in the top 5 in the NFL, whilst rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick is joining the locker room and TJ McDonald returns from injury.

At corner, Xavien Howard had a great season, whilst Tony Lippett and Cordrea Tankersley are both healthy, as it stands.

The D-Line will be different, Akeem Spence comes in at tackle to replace Suh, Robert Quinn has moved from LA and adds to an impressive room of DE’s, Quinn joins Cameron Wake, Charles Harris, and William Hayes. Andre Branch is still paid way too much.

GMS: What's your deepest concern for 2018?

The offensive line not being able to protect Tannehill, in training camp they’ve performed atrociously so far.

GMS: Give us a name to watch out for?

This is a tough one, as an honourable mention, Isaiah Ford has gone from a forgotten receiver to a potential dark horse in the slot. But I think you should look out for Torry McTyer, he’s in his 2nd year with The Fins and could even be a potential starter at cornerback, he’s been a stand out star this off-season.

Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs

GMS: And finally...your crystal ball prediction for the season?

I’d love to sneak into the playoffs again, but realistically I would take 8-8, two wins against the Patriots would be lovely!

FANTASY OUTLOOK

The Dolphins could absolutely improve in 2018 and put up a decent season but at the moment none of their options look all that enticing as we approach draft season. 

You're not going to be drafting Ryan Tannehill unless you play in a 2 QB league. His added value from rushing is all but gone after ACL surgery and even before then he wasn't someone with even the potential to be a Top 5 QB in standard scoring leagues.

The highest drafted Dolphin by far at the moment is Kenyan Drake and for good reason. From the outside looking in, Drake has a chance to be a clear number one back with a big touch share. But the word from camp isn't quite that. We're hearing lots about how good Frank Gore is looking, how he's impressing everyone and that everything isn't as clear-cut as we thought. 

Drake could still be a great pick, I'd just make sure that if you're taking him at his ADP (4.03) then you have a very top RB1 who can saddle some of the workload. 

Then we get to the receivers, where things don't get much clearer. Devante Parker is first off the board (10.04) but he's burnt fantasy owners year after year, promising more than he can ever really deliver. Last years pitiful output (670yds, 1TD) means he is getting nowhere near my team. 

One intriguing value pick is Kenny Stills (11.11), who put up some nice numbers in Miami considering he had Jay Cutler throwing to him. If Stills can nail down his spot in the 3-wide then I like him a lot as a late steal with Top-24 potential.  

Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens

OUR PREDICTION

Sam, our Dolphins fan, said he was thinking an 8-8 season could be on the card. To us, that seems like wishful thinking (sorry Sam). 

Vegas currently has the Dolphins pegged at 5.5 wins for 2018 and I'm inclined to go with a number closer to that rather than Sam's 8 wins. This might hurt but...I'm predicting a 6-10 record for Miami this year with Adam Gase's seat getting very, very warm. 

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Topics:
NFL Playoffs
NFL Draft
Miami Dolphins
Superbowl
Adam Gase
Xavien Howard
Ryan Tannehill
Reshad Jones
Kenyan Drake
Kenny Stills
Frank Gore
DeVante Parker
Danny Amendola
Miami Dolphins
NFL

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