As we anticipate the start of the 2017 NFL season, the DFF Degenerates Roundtable (@DFF_Degenerates) will tear down every team in the NFL – #32teams32days. We’re going round-trip to tackle the entire country – AFC East to West, then NFC West to East. We didn’t have to do it, but we did.
Buckle up! It’s going to be a bumpy ride. We’re traveling to another dimension between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge… that’s the signpost up ahead – our next stop – the RED ZONE.
In the second of our series, we visit the:
Jay Ajayi – Chronic knee issues… Can he hold up? Is he a true workhorse?
@ChristipherBean: Jay Ajayi grades out as one of my top prospects of recent years. The knee is a long(er) term concern. Ajayi has a mixture of size, agility, receiving skill, and production that has rarely been seen. Despite the coaching staff doing everything to keep him off the field, when they finally turned to him they simply had to ride him as he clearly outperformed the competition.
Of the 10 Seasons by the 4 RBs who have had at least 50 carries for Miami since 2011, Ajayi’s 41.41% 2nd level success rate* is the best despite running behind the 22nd ranked OL**.
*2nd Level Success Rate is the percentage of Positive Runs that go for 5+ Yds.
** Per Football Outsiders Adjusted Line Yards
DFF_JamesH: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Ajayi is a bad football player, but I think we are all going a bit over the top for a guy that has come up big only 3-4 times in a season. Granted he had over 200 yards in those instances, but if you give me the choice between somebody who will get me 20 points every week or somebody that will get me 8-10 most weeks and occasionally get me 30, I’m taking the 20 points per week. I think people will be massively paying over the odds this year for Ajayi, I won’t be that guy.
@DiBari22: I’m a charter member of the Jay Ajayi man-crush club. His reported knee ailments are a tad concerning, but I’m still a believer. Nobody on this roster is a threat to take his touches and even if he was to miss significant time it would probably just be the ultimate cluster-F running back committee in south Florida. I love Ajayi – always have, always will. He’s a super-talented guy with a possible long-term concern with his knees… sounds like most running backs. How many elite, productive years do you expect from RBs nowadays, about 4 or 5? How long are Ajayi’s knees expected to hold up? 4 or 5 years. It’s a match made in fantasy heaven.
@DFF_Madman: I have little to add beyond the facts and opinion you guys have already given… I think Ajayi’s price is even, and he could outpace our expectations in the short term. He’s a workhorse and I expect big things until his knees inevitably wear down. It’s the Jay Train! C’Mon ‘N Ride It.
Jarvis Landry – PPR superstar… but is he an “elite” WR?
@ChristipherBean: Landry is the single most volume-dependent WR in the league. Worse yet, Miami literally hurts their own offense using him so much (see chart below, data courtesy of RotoViz’s Team Splits App). As Miami gets better, Landry will be targeted less. As Landry is targeted less, he drops off the fantasy map at a disproportionately high rate.
Miami invested a decent amount of draft capital into finding additional receiving weapons. DeVante Parker and Leonte Carroo were both my top wide receivers the last two years. I’m pretty sure Gase personally hates me and that’s why he doesn’t play them more, but I’ll watch replays of Carroo making Richard Sherman look like a chump all day. Carroo should be stealing targets from Landry this year.
@DFF_Madman: This may be the only real topic I have argued with Bean. While all the data is correct, I question the premise and conclusion. The use of Landry is an issue for Miami only in that they don’t use him to win. However, I will always seek WRs who can catch the ball over all other qualities they possess. There are many athletes with the desirable attributes and metrics that never learned to catch the ball when they were young… it’s a bit problematic to call yourself an NFL WR when you can’t catch (see Stephen Hill, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Sammie Coates). Teams can legitimately win with guys that have Landry’s skills, not just our fake football teams. He need offer no apology. Miami should. Landry’s fantasy numbers may decline this year based on two things. 1) Adam Gase and 2) Jay Cutler. Gase will use Landry more efficiently and Cutler will throw downfield more. Maybe Landry will catch some TDs this year! We certainly don’t have to worry about touchdown regression. 😊
Landry has forced 48 missed tackles since 2015, according to PFF (which is better than Odell Beckham, Jr., and Antonio Brown). He is also credited with 76 missed tackles since his career began in 2014. So, use the guy more effectively, Miami!
Landry has 199 receptions from the slot since 2014 (more than either Randall Cobb or Doug Baldwin). His receiving yards have also increased in each of his 3-years in the league.
I’m still drafting the best slot receiver in the NFL, as he remains a value – even at his ADP of 33 overall. I won’t reverse-engineer his success to make it seem like he’s somehow a problem; and I won’t pretend that removing him will improve WR Ryan Tannehill’s passing efficiency.
Ryan Tannehill – Time to move on?
@ChristipherBean: I’m not sure on this one. All accounts point to a terrible QB – and the over-targeting of Landry is at least partially on him. However, I’ll point out he’s actually been good when targeting other options. His 387 Landry Targets are dragging him down. AdjY/Att courtesy of Rotoviz.com
@DiBari22: I don’t love him. I don’t hate him. He’s not bad enough to hate and not good enough to like. He’s the definition of meh. As long as he can effectively hand a football to Jay Ajayi 350 times, he’ll do everything I need from him. (luckily it looks like he’s going to miss the entire season at this point, so he’s officially irrelevant).
Jay Cutler – Thoughts?
@ChristipherBean: There is nothing Tannehill can do that Jay Cutler can’t. He’s got a decent deep ball. He’s used to using a major check-down option – granted that was a running back and not an over-targeted slot receiver. He has experience running a variety of offenses.
This could be a great thing for Miami, as Cutler might push the ball a bit more. Tannehill was more effective when not targeting Landry, maybe Cutler can get some combo of Parker/Carroo/Stills rolling that reduces their reliance on Landry. Honestly the thought of a high-flying offense with Parker and Carroo being used like the 2013 Bears Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall makes me shiver in anticipation.
@DiBari22: I like the move. I think Cutler is better than Tannehill, especially for fantasy purposes. He’s more of a gunslinger, which should bode well for Parker and Stills, as his deep ball threat can keep defenses honest and allow the run game to open-up for Ajayi. Everybody is a winner, except Jarvis Landry.
@DFF_Madman: I agree that Cutler is an upgrade in the passing department, particularly the down-field, long-ball stuff. Tannehill’s dump-offs to Landry have resulted in great fantasy stats for Landry, and little else. Miami isn’t going to win a damn thing playing that conservatively. Gase is going to push the ball and take command of the field through his offense. It’s going to look more like the Cutler of 2015 than Cutler in Chicago of 2016. They have a deep-pass specialist in Kenny Stills and a jump-ball specialist in DeVante Parker, both capable of making big plays. And we can’t forget about 2016 dynasty draft darling Leonte Carroo… who can develop into a possession receiver capable of yards after catch. The man with fly-paper hands – Landry’s possession-receiver instincts will keep the chains moving. Cutler makes perfect sense for Miami. It’s an ideal situation for both the team and Cutler, who just wanted to keep playing football.
How dare the Miami Dolphins sign the quarterback that they prefer. And one who has a history with the head coach. Outrageous.
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) August 7, 2017
All jokes aside, there was no better QB available to come in and run Gase’s offense in August, start winning games in September, and lead the team to the AFC wildcard round.
Kenny Stills – Just in the way of way of Leonte Carroo?
@DiBari22: I despise Kenny Stills for fantasy. I’ve already gone into detail about it here, but it doesn’t really matter what I think, the Dolphins (foolishly) just gave him a 4 year, $32-million dollar deal with nearly $20-million guaranteed. He’s not going anywhere. But I would keep an eye on Jarvis Landry and his contract talks. The path to success for Leonte Carroo might actually be through the spot vacated by Landry.
@DFF_Madman: From week 12 through week 17 of the 2016 season, Kenny Stills led the Dolphins WRs in PPR fantasy points – by 10; he received 14 fewer targets than Landry.
Julius Thomas – What gives?
@DiBari22: Recently acquired via trade in February just before the deepest and best tight end class in NFL draft history, the Dolphins clearly wanted to get him on their roster. I’m not really sure why. He did have 2 career years under Adam Gase in Denver, but I think we all know that was the Peyton Manning effect. Look out folks, here comes 350 yards and 4 scores!
@DFF_JamesH: I agree with JDB here, we are not going to see the return of the Julius Thomas of yesteryear. Clearly, Gase has a plan for Thomas similar to what he had in Denver… the biggest detriment at this point is Jay Cutler throwing him the ball, not Peyton Manning.
Thank you for reading. We hope this helps you in your quest to find the Holy Grail of dynasty football.
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