The Miami Dolphins were one of the most active teams in the National Football League in free agency this year. That activity extended to the defensive side of the ball, where the team made a certain cantankerous beefeater the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history,
That player who hit the free-agent jackpot was defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who got an eye-popping $108 million over six years to bolt the Detroit Lions for South Beach. Suh was the top-scoring defensive tackle in 2014, finishing 13th among defensive linemen overall. Those numbers are closer to Suh’s IDP ceiling than his floor, but the 28-year-old remains a viable DL2 and elite option if your IDP league separates the tackle and end positions.
Speaking of ends, Suh will be flanked by a pair of fantasy-relevant ones in Miami. Veteran Cameron Wake racked up 11.5 sacks last year for the Dolphins, the third-highest total of his NFL career. However, the 33-year-old has alternated big sack seasons and down years, and over the past two seasons Wake’s tackle numbers have tailed off. The former CFL star remains a DL1 in a thin talent pool at the position, but Wake is a risky one.
After exploding for 11.5 sacks in 2013, fourth-year pro Olivier Vernon saw his numbers drop a year ago. Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post thinks that Suh’s arrival sets the stage for a rebound campaign. “With two Pro Bowl linemen alongside Vernon,” Habib wrote, “including the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, opportunity awaits. A unique opportunity at that.” Enough opportunity to land Vernon in DL2 territory in 2015.
There’s good news and bad news for IDP owners where the Miami Dolphins are concerned. The bad news is that for a 4-3 team, there just really isn’t much there of fantasy interest. The good news is what that means for third-year pro Jelani Jenkins.
Thomas Galicia of Bleacher Report called Jenkins the Dolphins’ most overlooked player. “The linebacker position had been a weakness in 2013,” Galicia said, “but with Jenkins’ play in 2014, it became a strength and should only get stronger with more experience on Jenkins’ part, along with the signings made on defense.”
Jenkins is a three-down player with little competition for stops, playing behind a line that should help free up Jenkins to make plays. Plays as in tackles. As in tackles that accrue fantasy points. Get where I’m going with this?
For the first five weeks of the 2014 season, safety Reshad Jones was of very little use to IDP owners, complements of an early bye and four-game league-imposed vacation. However, once Jones hit the field in Week 6, there wasn’t a higher scoring defensive back in fantasy football.
Dale-Paul Jordan of FanSided sees big things in store for Jones in 2015. “Based on how this offseason has unfolded,” Jordan said, “and with the key players that the Dolphins front office has brought in, there is no reason not to believe that Jones will have his first Pro Bowl year and potentially be a candidate for the defensive player of the year (key word candidate).”
That’s stretching optimism to the point of, um, well – but Jones is an elite fantasy option who could easily be the first defensive back selected in many IDP leagues.