The Dolphins made one of the oddest moves of the offseason when they shipped Brandon Marshall away for two third-round picks. It’s not that Marshall hadn’t become more trouble than he was worth, but rather the fact that the Dolphins had no young talent pushing for his role as the team’s top target. Even stranger, the Dolphins did nothing to upgrade their receiving unit, unless you count Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Johnson. But either David Garrard or Matt Moore is going to throw plenty of passes this year, which means someone has to emerge as a decent fantasy weapon, as neither are expected to be anywhere near Blaine Gabbert-bad. To me, the likely candidate to step up in fantasy is Davone Bess.
Bess, now entering his fifth year out of Hawaii, has been a pretty ordinary-yet-reliable receiver for Miami over his first four seasons, generally averaging a mundane 10 yards per reception. His production fell off last year thanks in part to a partially-torn ACL and partially-torn MCL, but with Marshall out of town, it would be surprising if he didn’t make a run at topping his career-high 79-catch season from 2010. He’ll likely be catching balls from David Garrard, who was last seen quarterbacking the 2010 Jaguars, a team whose receiving corps was led by Mike Thomas, another smaller, possession-type pass-catcher.
The two will be playing under a new offensive system, but not one you might expect. While the Dolphins hired offensive coach Joe Philbin from a Green Bay Packers this year, they also tabbed Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman to be their new offensive coordinator, and reports out of camp are that the offensive design is Sherman’s, not Philbin’s. This is key, as the team could potentially transition to rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, also out of Texas A&M, later in the season if Miami falls short of expectations.
In the 2011 Aggie offense that featured Sherman and Tannehill, the leading receiver was a 6-foot guy named Ryan Swope who, despite ranking third in the Big 12 in receptions and receiving yards, failed to crack the top ten in yards per catch. This profile seems to fit a guy like Bess perfectly, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find him excelling in the system from Day 1. If Tannehill does enter the lineup at some point, it seems likely he could rely on Bess as a possession receiver while he tries to figure out the game speed of the NFL.
Standard scoring in fantasy football doesn’t generally award points to players with better yards-per-catch numbers, so it’s possible that Bess could be a quality WR3 even if the offense struggles as a whole, due solely to the amount of targets he should receive with Marshall gone. He probably won’t score many TDs, but those in PPR leagues should definitely scoop him up in the later portions of your drafts, as he stands to be someone who hangs around the top-30 WR list in that format while healthy.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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