Apr 14, 2010
The Broncos today traded WR Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins for a 2nd round pick in next week’s draft, along with what is reportedly another 2nd round pick in 2011’s draft. Marshall was a restricted free agent until yesterday, when he signed his $2.521 million tender from the Broncos, which facilitated the trade. And today, he signed a massive 4-year, $47.5 million extension with Miami, which included $24 million guaranteed.
It’s always difficult to evaluate any acquisition involving a troubled player or anyone with issues off the field, but if we can assume the Dolphins did as much due diligence as possible and that Marshall’s going to make minimal waves for Bill Parcells and head coach Tony Sparano, this is an excellent move for Miami. Especially since their division rival in New York added wideout Santonio Holmes this week, the Dolphins simply had to find a way to add a legit #1 receiver for their offense, and they certainly did so by bringing Marshall into the fold.
Starting QB Chad Henne is a work in progress, but he has all the tools to be a nice NFL starter for years to come. He has a strong arm, showed the ability last year to throw the ball in the right place, where only his receiver can catch it, and there is a calmness and poise to his game. He just looked comfortable, and he should be even more comfortable with a dominant and physical presence in Marshall on the field with him. Marshall has the size they needed at receiver, and while he’s not a dynamic game breaker, there’s no question he’s a receiver who can carry an offense on his back, and he’s the type of player who can make a young QB better because he’s such an imposing weapon to a defense and an appealing target for a QB due to his great size and physicality. Henne was pretty efficient last year, and he was much more accurate in the short area than expected, so I like the fit.
Marshall will clearly improve their passing game greatly, and now their collection of #2 and #3 WRs will look much better with Marshall taking on the #1 spot. For example, Davone Bess can now focus entirely on his work in the slot, and WRs Brian Hartline and Greg Camarillo – both pretty solid but miscast as top targets – can battle for playing time alongside Marshall. Neither may be ideal #2s, but they should be good enough for now. This move also helps TE Anthony Fasano, who came on a little once Henne took over the job last year. Miami isn’t exactly set now on offense, but they have the ingredients needed to have more of a complete offense, especially if they keep Ted Ginn and find a way to take advantage of his speed and playmaking ability, even in a limited role. In addition, this move is yet another step toward moving more toward a conventional offense. We’ll probably see some Wildcat at times, but our contention has always been that they resorted to trickery on offense because they didn’t have the personnel to run a “real” offense. They probably do now. This move certainly helps the values of RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. They may not be used quite as much, but Marshall will help them move the ball and extend more drives and score more TDs. Miami actually led the league in plays from scrimmage in 2009, but they threw only 15 TD passes and were only 20th in passing yards.
Expectations do need to be lowered a little for Marshall, but he’s still a viable #1 fantasy receiver. He’s not perfect and comes with some red flags (he could be facing a suspension if he has any other issues), but there’s a lot to be said for how much of a go-to guy he should be here. Like a lead back who truly carries the load for his team (like Cedric Benson in Cincy), Marshall’s volume should be extremely high, and he can handle it. If healthy all year he’ll easily finish in the top-10 in the league in terms of pass targets. And I see no reason why he can’t put up about 85/1100/8 in his first season here. Henne’s still only a fantasy backup, but he has a chance to finish in the top-15 if healthy now that he has Marshall. He’s probably just a top-20 guy, but that’s not a bad backup. Bess should be quite active and productive in the slot and should be good for 65-70 receptions even with Marshall commanding a ton of pass targets each week. Camarillo and Hartline probably aren’t worth drafting while Fasano is a decent backup TE. Although their touches should go down a tad, I wouldn’t downgrade RBs Brown or Williams based on this move.
As for the Broncos, they are obviously left with a major hole in their offense and they should be in the WR business in next week’s draft, and early in the draft. This is a team that should lean heavily on its running game, so that’s decent news for RBs Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. But right now an offense led by Kyle Orton (or, gulp, Brady Quinn) featuring a collection of aging #3 WRs (Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Stokley, and Brandon Lloyd) does not excite me at all. If there is a big winner here, it has to be WR Eddie Royal. He should be a good fit for this system, and even if they draft a WR in the 1st round, I have to believe Royal’s going to be extremely active. Orton is serviceable in the short to intermediate passing area, so Royal could be poised to haul in a ton of balls this year, perhaps as many as 85-90 if all goes well. So Royal’s value looks to be on the rise in PPR leagues. He should be a nice option as a #3 coming off his horrendous 2009 season.
Here’s how I’d rank the fantasy values of the key players on both teams.
- Brandon Marshall
- Ronnie Brown
- Ricky Williams
- Davone Bess
- Chad Henne
- Anthony Fasano
- Brian Hartline
- Ted Ginn
- Greg Camarillo
- Knowshon Moreno
- Eddie Royal
- Correll Buckhalter
- Jabar Gaffney
- Kyle Orton
- Tony Scheffler (we’ll have to see where he stands in the summer here)
- Brandon Lloyd