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IDP Fantasy Forecast: 2021 Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins finished second in the AFC East in 2020 with a record of 10-6 Can the defense led by Jerome Baker push them to more?

The Miami Dolphins made a surprising turnaround in 2020, especially on defense. The Dolphins had one of the NFL’s worst-ranked units in 2019. However, head coach Brian Flores and new defensive coordinator Josh Boyer turned it around. The Dolphins selected edge rusher Jaelen Phillips from Miami in the 2021 draft to bolster their pass rush. They added safety Jevon Holland in the second round of the draft to help out on the back end of their defense.

However, rumors are swirling their All-Pro Cornerback Xavien Howard may be unhappy with his contract. While it’s not entirely out of the question that he could wind up being traded, there is nothing certain that he will be either.

I will proceed with the assumption that he will not be moved and remain with Miami this season. The Dolphins brought over Benardrick McKinney from the Houston Texans in free agency this offseason. It looks as if they will pair him with Jerome Baker at inside linebacker. They still have a hole at their other outside linebacker, even after drafting Phillips. Perhaps they will look to fill that hole via trade or bring someone in after cutdowns.

Let’s meet some of their noteworthy IDP players on their defense.

Linebackers

Jerome Baker, Inside Linebacker

Photo Credit: USA Today

Baker reminds me of some of my favorite inside linebackers over the years. You don’t see many inside linebackers that can go up against an offensive tackle and beat them off the snap to the quarterback. And that is exactly what he did in the Dolphins’ Week 14 matchup against the Chiefs. He abused Eric Fisher by chopping his hands down, getting around his outside shoulder, and bringing Patrick Mahomes down deep behind the line.

It was a pretty impressive display of power, and in a situation that the tackle should not have lost, but he did. Baker had an outstanding game vs. the Chiefs. He went right through Clyde Edwards-Helaire for another sack. I hope that is not how Clyde intends to take on rushers in 2021 because he will lose a lot. Baker plays with a nasty edge, as one head coach says: “You’d rather have to say whoa! Than sick em”

It is rare for me to watch another team’s player, and when the quarterback is dancing in the pocket, for me to yell “GET HIM.” I found myself doing that quite a bit with Baker. I think in 2021, the Dolphins will continue to take a step forward on defense. What can you expect from Baker from an IDP perspective? Currently, he is being drafted as the LB34 with an ADP of 214.9. I would offer a late third-round rookie pick for him if he was rostered.

GGSIntPDFFFRSKTotal TacklesSoloAsstTFLQB HitsFantasy PointsFPPG
171705114.510668385722913.47
Jerome Baker 2021 Stats and Fantasy Points Projection 2021

Benardrick Mckinney, Inside Linebacker

Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle

The Dolphins signed Benardrick this off-season to bolster their inside linebacker group. When I put on the film to watch Baker, you could see an evident weakness in the middle of the Dolphins defense. The Dolphins may have found their answer in Mckinney. It was a difficult task to watch multiple games of the Houston Texans defensive unit in 2020. But Mckinney stood out. No matter the score, he played until the game was over. The Dolphins will likely limit his exposure to coverage, as that is not something they probably want him regularly doing.

While he does not have the playmaking potential that Baker has, he can generate some higher tackle numbers in Miami versus his Houston time. While I will add Mckinney to my scout team, I am not ready to invest. His ADP right now is 389.8, and he’s ranked as the LB7. He is likely not being rostered even in deeper leagues. However, a mid-fourth-round rookie pick would be appropriate compensation.

GGSIntPDFFFRSKTotal TacklesSoloAsstTFLQB HitsFantasy PtsFPPG
171700000.588523655

Jaelen Phillips, Outside Linebacker

Photo Credit: Sun Sentinel

Phillips was the first edge rusher selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. Watching his film, he will have to work on his pass rush moves. NFL offensive linemen will not be regularly beat based on pure athleticism. Against Virginia Tech, he just blew by the right tackle as if he wasn’t there. The same thing happened later in the game; you would have thought the offensive coordinator would have given the poor guy some help. It may take him some time to get acclimated to the NFL game, and thus he is not a roster-able asset at this time. He could be a name to file away for later.

He has an ADP of 213.7 and is being drafted as the DL22. That’s just a tad too rich for my blood. I would not trade anything for him as you don’t know what you will get yet.

GGSIntPDFFFRSKTotal TacklesSoloAsstTFLQB HitsFantasy PointsFPPG
171700004.5452619251076.29
Jaelen Phillips 2021 Stats and Fantasy Points Projection

Defensive Lineman

Emmanuel Ogbah

Photo Credit: USA Today

Ogbah sets the tone for the Dolphins along the defensive line. In a Week 10 game from last season against the Chargers, some genius decided to have Hunter Henry block him alone. I thought out loud to myself before the snap; there is no way they are going to do this. Ball gets snapped, and Ogbah did exactly what you would expect. He tossed Henry aside and ran through the running back for the sack on Justin Herbert. When the Dolphins played the Arizona Cardinals last season, he set up the offensive lineman by faking an inside rush, then used his speed to get to the outside shoulder of the left tackle. At that point, the tackle was beaten, and Ogbah had him on skates. He blew by him and strip-sacked Kyler Murray.

There is no one else along the Dolphins’ defensive line currently that is worth IDP consideration. Zach Sieler is an interesting name to watch should he push his way into the starting lineup or if something should happen to Ogbah. Ogbah is being drafted as the DL10 with an ADP of 229. That is excellent value for him. Very likely, you will find Ogbah on the waiver wire, so you should not have to trade anything for him.

GGSIntPDFFFRSKTotal TacklesSoloAsstTFLQB HitsFantasy PointsFPPG
1717051053924564

Defensive Backs

Xavien Howard, Conerback

Photo Credit: Dolphin Nation

Miami Dolphins opponents, please accept this PSA: “Don’t throw in the area of Xavien Howard”. You may get away with it at times, but he will eventually take the ball away. Watching him on film, he is excellent with timing the football in the air. Yes, some of it is ball placement on the quarterback. Howard is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

However, it can be tricky to put a corner into your DB position in IDP leagues. The potential for a really good game is always there for a player like Howard. But if the offense stays away from him, the floor is a goose egg. He is being drafted as the DB9 with an ADP of 217.9. I prefer to roster safties for use in my DB spot in IDP leagues, as there is a much higher floor. He may be just too good of an option to pass up. I would be willing to offer up a mid-third-round rookie pick to get him on my team.

GGSIntPDFFFRSKTotal TacklesSoloAsstTFLQB HitsFantasy PointsFPPG
1717411000382810001378.05
Xavien Howard 2021 Stats and Fantasy Points Projection

Conclusion

The Miami Dolphins should continue to take another step forward under Flores. Their defense is getting better and should look to continue to rise the ranks in 2021. Baker is the budding IDP gem on this defense. For more insight and fun articles, make sure to join the nerd herd, and follow us on Twitter. I can be personally found at @DoomzoneFF.

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