The Dolphins went from “Tanking for Tua” at the start of 2019 to crippling Tom Brady’s Patriots dynasty by beating New England in Week 17, which prevented their nemesis from getting a postseason bye. The Dolphins, at the end of the day, still landed Tua Tagovailoa in the draft with the fifth overall pick after Joe Burrow rose to the top of draft boards and Tua fell because of his hip injury. To no one’s surprise, the Dolphins missed the playoffs (-3000 odds), but they showed a lot of fight under first-year HC Brian Flores in the second half of the season. They finished with a 5-11 record even after they traded away Ryan Tannehill, Laremy Tunsil, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Kenyan Drake last year.
The Dolphins finished 2019 with an impressive 5-2 record in one-score games to help them finish with a 9-7 against-the-spread record. Miami got blown off the field plenty early in the season as it had an 0-6 record in games decided by three scores or more. Those lopsided affairs led to a 9-7 mark toward over totals after allowing the most points per game (30.9) and scoring the eighth-fewest PPG (19.1).
Miami’s 2020 win total (6.5) climbed by one and a half victories after it loaded up on talent this off-season. The Dolphins pushed their 2019 win total by winning their fifth game in a stunning upset over the Patriots in the season finale. Miami has +365 odds to make the playoffs for just the second time in 12 seasons and for the third time in 19 seasons. Entering the season, I have the Dolphins power rated as the 29th-best team in the NFL (+8000 to win Super Bowl LV), as the 15th-best team in the AFC (+4000 to win the conference), and as the worst team in the AFC East (+800).
|Week||Opponent (spread if available)||Time|
|1||@New England Patriots (+6.5)||1|
|2||Buffalo Bills (+3)||1|
|3||@Jacksonville Jaguars||8:20 (Thurs)|
|5||@San Francisco 49ers||4:05|
|6||@Denver Broncos (+5.5)||4:05|
|7||Los Angeles Chargers||1|
|8||Los Angeles Rams||1|
|9||@Arizona Cardinals||4:25 (Sun)|
|10||New York Jets (-2.5)||4:05|
|12||@New York Jets (+3.5)||1|
|14||Kansas City Chiefs||1|
|15||New England Patriots (+2.5)||1|
|16||@Las Vegas Raiders||TBA|
Key Off-season Moves
Byron Jones (CB)
Kyle Van Noy (LB)
Tua Tagovailoa (QB)
Austin Jackson (OT)
Ereck Flowers (OG)
Shaq Lawson (DE)
Emmanuel Ogbah (DE)
Jordan Howard (RB)
Noah Igbinoghene (CB))
Matt Breida (RB)
Ted Karras (C)
Raekwon Davis (DT)
Robert Hunt (OG)
Elandon Roberts (LB)
Kamu Grugier-Hill (LB)
Allen Hurns (WR, Mia) opt-out
Albert Wilson (WR, Mia) opt-out
Charles Harris (DE, Atl)
Taco Charlton (DE, KC)
Aqib Talib (CB, FA)
Reshad Jones (S, FA)
2020 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||6.5 (+110/-134)|
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
The Dolphins had the worst roster in the league last year and they managed to scratch out five wins in Brian Flores’ first season as head coach. Miami infused plenty of talent into its once-barren roster this off-season through the draft and through free agency, and it now has one of the league’s more intriguing young rosters in the league. The Dolphins spent most of their resources upgrading their defense after they fielded the league’s youngest defense last season.
Miami had one of the league’s worst secondaries last season after it traded away S Minkah Fitzpatrick and with CB Xavien Howard playing in just five games because of a knee injury. The Dolphins won’t allow the third-most YPA (7.7) once again this season after landing the top free-agent CB in Byron Jones (Cowboys) and after drafting Noah Igbinoghene with their third first-round pick back in April. The Dolphins could have one of the league’s best CB duos in Howard and Jones for years to come. The Dolphins also signed EDGE defenders Kyle Van Noy (Patriots) and Shaq Lawson (Bills) to bolster the league’s worst pass rush, which registered a league-low 23 sacks.
On the flip side, the Dolphins tied with the Panthers for the most sacks allowed last season with 58, giving Miami the league’s worst sack differential in the league at -35. Miami still figures to have one of the league’s worst O-lines this season, but they totally revamped the unit this off-season. They drafted Austin Jackson in the first round to be the rare frontside protector at left tackle for years to come in front of fellow first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa, who throws left-handed. Miami also drafted OG Robert Hunt in the second round and they signed OG Ereck Flowers and C Ted Karras to further bolster its line.
The Dolphins have the 12th-easiest schedule in the league and the easiest slate in the AFC East based on 2020 win totals (per Sharp Football). Miami and the rest of the AFC East drew the NFC’s toughest division in the NFC West, as well as the AFC West. Luckily for the Dolphins, they’ll take on the Jaguars and the Bengals as their extra AFC contests. They’ll also get a unique scheduling quirk in the middle of the year. The Dolphins’ Week 11 bye is sandwiched between a date in New Jersey to play the Jets in Week 10 and a date in Miami to play the Jets again in Week 12.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
The Dolphins made a bunch of moves to improve their roster during the draft and free agency, but don’t let those acquisitions fool you; this franchise still has a long way to go to be among the league’s contenders. The Dolphins went from having the worst roster in the league last season to having just one of the worst rosters in the league this season. Miami overachieved at the end of last season thanks to an easy finishing schedule, but this franchise is still in the process of building a competitive team.
The Dolphins also had more fortune than you’d expect for a poor team last year. They pulled out five of their seven one-score games last season thanks in large part to the magic of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Miami drafted his successor in Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth-overall pick last spring, and the Dolphins are going to get Tua into the lineup sooner rather than later this season so they can start his development. I’d feel better about the Dolphins going over their win total if Fitz was guaranteed to play in the majority of their games this season, but I’m expecting Tua to be named the starter relatively early this season.
Miami could delay the start of Tua’s days as the starter by a few weeks while the Dolphins let their totally revamped offensive line gel early in the season since they’ll likely have four new starters this season. The Dolphins could have continuity issues across their entire roster and with their coaching staff since they brought in new faces all over the place, which is certainly a concern this year with limited on-field opportunities this off-season because of the pandemic. The Dolphins also have two new coordinators after they fired Chad O’Shea and lured Chan Gailey out of retirement. They also hired Josh Boyer to help Brian Flores as the defensive coordinator after Patrick Graham bolted for the Giants. The Dolphins have a ton of moving parts to incorporate this season with less time than usual to do it.
The Dolphins may elect to let Ryan Fitzpatrick handle a difficult opening stretch to the season. Miami faces four teams lined at nine wins or more in the first five weeks of the season (NE, Buf, Sea, SF), and the only soft spot is a short-rest, road Thursday night contest against the Jaguars. The Dolphins also have two road back-to-backs this season in Weeks 5-6 (@SF, @Den) and in Weeks 16-17 (@LV, @Buf).
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of Bovada.lv
DeVante Parker: receiving yards (1090.5), most receiving yards (+3000)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (935)
Best-case Scenario: Even with Preston Williams back in the lineup, Parker continues his career ascension after averaging 5.5/100.3/.6 receiving on 9.5 targets per game without Williams.
Worst-case Scenario: Parker, Williams, and Mike Gesicki each battle it out for targets, and the overall ceiling of this passing game is lowered with Tua Tagovailoa taking over.
Mike Gesicki: receiving yards (649.5)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (630)
- Best-case Scenario: Gesicki remains active in this passing attack even with Preston Williams (ACL) returning to the lineup, and he leads all TEs in slot rate for the second straight season.
- Worst-case Scenario: Gesicki goes back to being a secondary option in this passing attack after averaging just 2.6/31.0/0 receiving per game on 3.9 targets per game with Williams on the field last season
Best Bets and Leans
It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Dolphins get off to another ugly start this season after they opened with an 0-7 record last season by being outscored 238-77 in their first seven games. The Dolphins are likely to let Ryan Fitzpatrick handle a difficult opening stretch to the season. Miami faces four teams lined at nine wins or more in the first five weeks of the season (NE, Buf, Sea, SF), and the only soft spot is a short-rest, road Thursday night contest against the Jaguars.
The Dolphins are eventually going to have a tough transition going from Fitzpatrick, the wily veteran right-handed gunslinger, to Tua Tagovailoa, the conservative, quick-rhythm left-handed rookie passer. The Dolphins have a better chance to go over their win total the longer that Fitzpatrick is in the lineup while the under is in play the sooner that Tua gets into the lineup. If I had to bet on when Tua will get his first start, I’d predict in Week 7. The Dolphins will be returning home from a road back-to-back against the 49ers and the Broncos in Week 5-6, and they’ll get back-to-back home games starting in Week 7 against the Chargers and the Rams after a brutal opening slate.
Miami clearly upgraded its roster from last season, but they’re still in the bottom tier of the league heading into the 2020 season. The Dolphins needed some good fortune to push their 2019 season-win total of five by winning five of their seven games decided by eight or fewer points. The Dolphins are now being asked to win an additional two games to clear their 2020 win total, which seems like a bit of a leap unless Tua is immediately a star. I’m expecting Tua to have his fair share of struggles, and I’m leaning toward the Dolphins to go under six and a half wins this season.
Best Bets: None of note.
Leans: Miami Dolphins under six and a half wins (+100, betonline.ag)