By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
Read full column on Ohio.com
We must be prudent with our judgment of the Miami Dolphins.
I was very high on the Dolphins’ potential heading into this season, but under Joe Philbin’s watch, they limped through the first four weeks. Enter interim coach Dan Campbell, and they have reeled off two wins in a row, scoring 82 points in the process.
But the New England Patriots await on Thursday.
This game could very well go one of two ways. Either a rejuvenated Dolphins team plays up to its competition and we get somewhat of a shootout, or the surge of energy under Campbell fizzles upon arriving in Foxborough, Mass., and the Patriots dominate all phases of the game in a blowout win.
I want to be excited. But with arguably the best team in the league next up on the schedule for the Dolphins, I can’t — yet.
Lamar Miller, running back, Miami Dolphins (owned in 97.1 percent of ESPN leagues)
Weeks ago, I told you to cut Miller, because his production was downright abysmal. But after the Great Campbell Renaissance, it’s time to take another flier while you still can.
I mean, why not? Miller has 288 yards on 33 attempts in the past two games combined (8.73 yards per carry), a stark contrast to his first four games, in which he amassed more than 50 yards just once. He’s scored three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in that stretch. Let me be the last to tell you that those numbers are worth some points.
It also appears as though I was one of the few souls on earth who cut ties with Miller during the reign of Philbin. I guess everyone has more fortitude than me.
Yes, the Dolphins faced a cupcake Tennessee Titans defense and a lethargic, wildly underwhelming Houston Texans unit. Hence the concerned introduction above. The next month (at Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles and home against the Dallas Cowboys) is not attractive for the offense. But maybe, just maybe, the hot streak continues, and you suddenly have a galloping fountain of points named Lamar.
Alfred Blue, running back, Houston Texans (owned in 18.8 percent of ESPN leagues)
Blue didn’t do much as the starter when Arian Foster missed the first fourth of the season. After Sunday’s torn Achilles, Foster is again relegated to the bench, this time for the season. That makes Blue someone you should be racing to pick up — IF you had Foster in your lineup.
Otherwise, the Texans are a toxic wasteland of a football team. Their starting quarterback missed the team flight to Miami, their defense is playing with hearts smaller than the Grinch before he stole Christmas, and their coach is getting rather snappy with the local media. There isn’t much to like in Houston.
But if you had Foster, or you’re desperately in need of a running back, Blue is your guy. Just don’t expect all that much from him.
You can also consider adding James Starks (owned in 45.4 percent of ESPN leagues) here, although Eddie Lacy has a better chance of returning healthier after the Packers’ bye week.
Jordan Reed, tight end, Washington Redskins (owned in 41.7 percent of ESPN leagues)
Don’t look now, but the Redskins are right in the thick of the NFC East.
After completing the largest comeback in franchise history (24 points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday), the emerging hero was Kirk Cousins, with his postgame outburst of passion serving as the cherry on top. But it was Reed who was a direct beneficiary of Cousins’ choice in targets on Sunday, catching 11 of 13 targets for 72 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner in the final minute.
Reed was injured early on, removing him from the general consciousness of fantasy football owners. But his physical gifts and the threat he poses to opposing defenses cannot be overlooked.
In five games, Cousins has targeted Reed 47 times, connecting for 35 completions to the 6-foot-2, 237-pound tight end and a total of 350 yards and three touchdowns. Though two of those came Sunday, it’s an encouraging sign and makes him a viable option at tight end in all leagues.
He’s generating nearly 10 targets and averaging 70 yards per game. Sunday’s win could be a catalyst, a turning point. Though the Redskins next face the Patriots after their bye week, Reed is a guy you should stash on your team for long-term needs.
Arian Foster, running back, Houston Texans
Torn Achilles. Done for the season. See above for solution.
Alfred Morris, running back, Washington Redskins
On the flip side of the historic Cousins-led comeback is the sheer absence of Alfred Morris, and it’s not just limited to Sunday. The guy hasn’t topped eight points since Week 1. His role continues to be reduced — he’s averaged 9.6 carries per game from Week 3 on — and he’s also fighting a losing battle for carries in what’s suddenly a backfield crowded by mediocrity, with only a sliver of hope in Matt Jones.
Morris is on a couple of my fantasy teams, and he’s been a complete dud. Poor draft positions led me to him, and with little else available on the wire (my competition is savvy), I’ve been forced to play Morris, and watch my team slog along.
I know what’s going to happen, though. I’ll tell you to drop Morris, and he’ll somehow rush for 150 yards against the Patriots in Week 9, when the Redskins play next. But I don’t even care if I’m wrong. I’m done with Morris, and maybe you should be, too.
Follow Nick Shook on Twitter @TheNickShook and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.