The most explosive offense award for Week 1 goes to the Miami Dolphins.
In a matchup that featured nine lead changes, it wasn’t just wide receiver Tyreek Hill who made all the plays (even though he made quite a few). While he hauled in a whopping 215 yards, that still rendered 251 air yards up for grabs after quarterback Tua Tagovailoa tossed a career-high 466 yards in the Dolphins’ win. In fact, Hill only accounted for 45% of the Dolphins’ fantasy points on the afternoon, and he outscored the Cardinals, Bengals, Giants, and Seahawks by himself from a fantasy points point of view.
The next obvious thought is Jaylen Waddle, but he only caught four balls.
There was also a question mark after Mike Gesicki departed for New England in the offseason. But it was Durham Smythe in the leading tight end role who garnered the second-most targets on Sunday, with seven.
Although he caught only three of those seven targets, he was third on the team in total receiving yards (44). For a position limited in fantasy options, Smythe finished with 7.4 points in PPR, and had he reached the end zone, would’ve bolstered his day to 13.4. That would have been good for the third-best tight end of the week behind Hunter Henry (New England) and Hayden Hurst (Carolina). Flagging Smythe to see how he fares across the next few games might be a nice waiver wire snag.
We can’t dive too deep without discussing Tagovailoa’s day under center. En route to his record day, he used one of the smallest windows of precision to drop the game-winning touchdown into Hill’s arms. But he also bought time in the second quarter for a slick pass up the middle to backup receiver River Cracraft for a touchdown.
The 28-year-old wideout is in his second year with the Dolphins (sixth in the NFL) and has half as many touchdowns after Week 1 as he had all of last year.
But this shouldn’t be viewed as an outlier.
Cracraft was inactive for a handful of games last season, but often was given a limited role per game, mainly in the red zone. Cracraft saw multiple looks on Sunday in the red zone, and was also used as a decoy on plays.
Last season, in Miami’s comeback game in Baltimore, Cracraft was thrown into the game in the red zone and scored a pivotal touchdown in what ended up being a 4-point game. He also snagged a score the following week at home in a 2-point upset win against division rival Buffalo. With Gesicki gone, who turned more into a blocker and red zone threat in his final year with the Dolphins, Miami needs a player to step up to take those looks. It was Cracraft in Week 1.
Miami’s rushing woes were prevalent again, as it has been in recent years. Jeff Wilson (injured reserve) and rookie De’Von Achane (shoulder) were inactive, leaving Raheem Mostert as the “bell cow” with Salvon Ahmed active as the backup.
Well, that bell cow was far from impressive.
Mostert was given 10 carries to Tagovailoa’s1 45 pass attempts. Ahmed rushed even less, for three carries.
Maybe Miami needs the committee moving forward with a compliment to the 31-year-old Mostert, but it’s no secret the Dolphins have been at the bottom of the league this decade in rushing success.
Furthermore, wide receiver Braxton Berrios, who spent his entire career previously with the New York Jets, is a Dolphin who garnered a tie for the third-highest target share (five). He averaged 14 yards per catch – but also saw return time on special teams. In dynasty leagues, the two-way Berrios would sneakily be worth more should an injury to a top receiver, or even Cracraft, occur. Any player that gets points in the receiving game and special teams should be on your radar.
The disappointing showing from Dolphins’ running backs also points to Tagovailoa having to throw often in (at least) short-term future games. Tagovailoa’s recent injury history with concussions made him go undrafted or as a backup quarterback in more than a handful of leagues. Whatever bargain you took on him could be a diamond in the rough, not only because Miami has some potential back-and-forth scoring opponents, but because an improvement in the run game seems far away again.
Finally, the Dolphins’ defense did not shine to open the season, allowing 34 points and hefty ground games to Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley. But, the final drive saw Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb blitz Justin Herbert on fourth down, nearly creating a fumble, to secure the game.
Miami’s defense erupted with touchdowns and sacks last season, and with returning many of the same guys, we will have weeks where the team’s momentum is by big defensive plays. A division game in the next two weeks (at New England, versus Buffalo) may not be an ideal start for this unit, but it then sees the Giants and Panthers as October begins. If you can afford to sit them on your bench, do it.
1 Tagovailoa scored as many as 41.75 points in the highest league settings I researched.