Other than playing on natural grass and in an open-air stadium under the South Florida sun, the Miami Dolphins are taking us back to Y2K with memories of the St. Louis Rams lighting up scoreboards across the NFL and filling fantasy managers with so many points and big victories.
This comparison came up during the second half of Sunday’s 31-16 victory over the Giants at Hard Rock Stadium. Up until this game, the 2000 Rams had the record for most yards through five games of the season with 2,527. This year’s Dolphins eclipsed that mark and upped it to 2,568 by the end of the game.
That 2000 Rams team was piloted by future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, who burst out of nowhere the previous year as a preseason injury replacement and would go on to pass for 4,353 yards and 41 touchdowns to pace all quarterbacks in fantasy. In 2000, Warner had a more pedestrian 3,429 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, yet still finished as the QB13.
The dual-threat out of the backfield was another future Hall of Famer, Marshall Faulk, who set a then-NFL record with 26 touchdowns, along with 2,189 total yards. His 379 points were a runaway for RB1 status.
Catching Warner’s passes were a pair electrifying wide receivers in Isaac Bruce (1,471 yards and nine touchdowns to be WR6) and Torry Holt (1,635/6 for WR7). Bruce is in Canton, and Holt was a finalist this year. This is the company the Dolphins are keeping.
At the helm of the Dolphins is Tua Tagovailoa, who has distanced himself from offseason injury concerns to take his game and this offense to a level that has it lapping the field with a league-leading 181 points. After shredding the Giants for 308 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Tagovailoa now has three games with 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns.
He’s on pace to throw for 5,487 yards, which would shatter Miami legend Dan Marino’s ground-breaking 5,048-yard season in 1984. Tagovailoa’s timing and precision on passes have been fantastic, especially on the early connection he’s had with the hyper-fast Tyreek Hill.
Hill is blazing a path in a follow-up to the 119-catch, 1,710-yard season in 2022, when he had 38 catches, 524 yards and two touchdowns through five games. If no one surpasses him in Sunday night or Monday night games, Hill will have three top-3 weekly finishes through the first five games.
After flying past the Giants for eight receptions for 181 yards and a score for WR3 status, Hill has set a new pace for himself with 36 catches, 651 yards and five touchdowns through five games. He’s on pace for an astounding 2,213 receiving yards. The NFL record for receiving yards in a season is Calvin Johnson’s 1,964 in 2012.
Bursting through for a third straight top-5 performance has been rookie sensation De’Von Achane. The speedster, who can give Hill a run at the crown for fastest player in the NFL, took 11 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown. Coincidentally, Achane wears the same No. 28 as Faulk.
Achane had 76 of those yards on a touchdown where he looked like he was shot out of a cannon. His explosive run percentage is 18.5%, which is a Fantasy Points Data statistic measuring runs of 15-plus yards. Achane’s 95.8 fantasy points over the past three weeks would have seen him trail only Christian McCaffrey through the first four weeks of the season.
Amazingly, the Dolphins have Raheem Mostert as a second running back who is worthy of every-week-starting consideration. He has three top-10 weekly finishes (if he sticks in there in Week 5), with his Week 3 41.70 points on 142 total yards and four touchdowns as his high-water mark. Mostert may be turning into Robin to Achane’s Batman, but the 31-year-old veteran remains a viable starter in fantasy. Sunday, he rushed 10 times for 65 yards and a score, playing with a heavy heart.
Raheem Mostert played with a heavy heart today: his grandfather on his mom side passed away yesterday.
Mostert managed his emotions for the game and scored a TD for him. Watch the extra umph as he gets into end zone: pic.twitter.com/XSILF6m1zt
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) October 8, 2023
Now imagine what will happen when Jaylen Waddle gets going. After consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to start his career — including his 1,356 yards and eight touchdowns last year — Waddle has 245 receiving yards on 17 receptions in four games (he missed Week 3). Again, just picture when Waddle gets back to the levels that he’s scaled in his first two seasons.
Just look at where these Dolphins are going. They have already played road games in Buffalo and New England, so trips to those icy stadiums in December will wait for another year. After their Week 10 bye, the Dolphins will travel to play the Commanders, Jets and Ravens in the cold-weather months of November and December. Their remaining games are in the comforts of home, so the setup is happening for a season that could become, well, the Greatest.
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