MIAMI — The Miami Dolphins‘ offense looks completely revamped on paper, with an infusion of playmakers at the skill positions led by receivers Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson, and running backs Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds.
Add in the hiring of offensive-minded head coach Mike McDaniel, and the Dolphins’ attack, which ranked 24th in offensive expected points added last season, should be improved in nearly every facet.
That might translate to more victories, but from a fantasy perspective, Miami’s best players could prove unpredictable as the team’s scheme adjusts week by week.
On ESPN platforms, Hill is being drafted as WR7 and last season’s standout rookie Jaylen Waddle is being drafted as WR13. There is reason to be excited about at least one of the Dolphins’ receivers considering what McDaniel did with versatile receiver Deebo Samuel last season as the coordinator in San Francisco.
Samuel broke out in 2021 with 1,405 receiving yards and six touchdowns, adding another 365 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Though McDaniel lauded Waddle’s yards-after-catch ability shortly after being hired in January, it was unclear if he would ask Waddle, who had two carries last season, to fill a Samuel-type role in Miami this season.
Then the Dolphins traded for Hill (league-best 20 touchdowns of 50-plus yards since 2016) in March, and it seemed like they found their do-it-all gadget player — or at least the closest thing to it. Hill has averaged 7.7 yards and scored six rushing TDs on 93 career carries.
“There’s probably going to be some overlap to some degree,” McDaniel said. “But Deebo Samuel evolved into that role because of both circumstance and because of skill set while in San Francisco. I expect no difference, really, with Tyreek, where we are going to start with the foundational elements of the receiver position.
“I promise you we’re not going to limit — or we’re going to continue the process of developing him and the Miami Dolphins football team.”
While Hill should live up to his WR7 average draft position, what should be expected from Waddle?
The 49ers’ No. 2 receiver, Brandon Aiyuk, finished last season with 826 yards and five touchdowns on 56 catches — good for WR35 in ESPN fantasy leagues. Waddle is a better receiver than Aiyuk, however, and doesn’t have to share targets with last year’s TE4, George Kittle.
Waddle was primarily used in the short-to-intermediate part of the field as a rookie, in some ways to make up for the Dolphins’ ineffective run game that ranked 30th (92.2 yards per game). He will still be used on intermediate routes to manufacture space for him to run after the catch, but the hope with McDaniel calling plays is that Waddle will be able to do so more efficiently.
Last season, Waddle finished eighth in the NFL in receptions (104), but 25th in yards (1,015) and tied for 101st in yards per catch (9.8). One of Miami’s primary goals this season must be to maximize Waddle’s skills.
“I think it’s a different team, a different scheme,” Waddle said. “Obviously we’re going to work to what we’re good at. I think Coach McDaniel does a good job of putting players in positions to make plays. I trust that he’s going to do that throughout the year.”
Miami tight end Mike Gesicki (73 catches last season) will siphon targets from Hill and Waddle, but Samuel and Kittle finished among the top 50 flex players in ESPN fantasy leagues last season despite mediocre quarterback play from Jimmy Garoppolo, who ranked 13th in QBR (53.3), and Kittle missing three games.
But for those expecting Hill to be the next Samuel as a receiver and rusher, keep in mind that Hill has finished no worse than WR11 in all but one of his six NFL seasons. That’s the player this Dolphins staff traded for, not the second coming of Samuel.
“You don’t look at it like ‘I need the next Deebo,'” McDaniel said. “Deebo wasn’t found by looking for Deebo. You look for good football players that are committed and passionate and maybe that challenge you as a coach to see ‘Hey, what other way can we utilize this skill set?'”