Miami Dolphins: Brian Hartline’s 2012 Fantasy Outlook
The Miami Dolphins are hurting at the wide receiver position, and as much as I’d love to say otherwise, fourth-year receiver Brian Hartline isn’t helping. It’s not really his fault, as an appendectomy and injured calf have kept him from soaring to the top of the depth chart.
It’s unfortunate, too, as Brandon Marshall’s exit via trade and the release of Chad Johnson would almost certainly have Hartline starting at a starting gig. In fact, if he were healthy, Hartline would arguably be the team’s number one receiver.
Instead, he’s slowly working his way back into the mix, where Davone Bess will dominate the slot and Legadu Naanee of all people has somehow distanced himself as a starter, as well. And when the team goes into two wide receiver sets, it would be Naanee and Bess, not Hartline, lining up to go out for passes.
But that doesn’t have to be how it goes for the entire 2012 season.
After all, Hartline isn’t without talent. He’s displayed nice speed and play-making ability over the course of his first three seasons, averaging no less than 14.3 yards per catch in any year, while putting up a solid 15.7 yards per catch as a starter in 2011.
Brandon Marshall hanging around hogging targets the past two seasons certainly hasn’t helped Hartline’s growth, and many felt that Hartline was poised to breakout in his fourth season. He had a new offense, and was expected to be one of the top two starters.
I still think Hartline has the talent to be a better receiver than he’s shown thus far in his career, but the odds are very much against him so far. Even if he gets healthy asap, he still has to work his way up the ladder and gain a solid role. And even if he were to do that quickly, he’d still be operating with a rookie quarterback under center.
I like his potential in a Joe Philbin offense, and would love to think he can evolve into the receiver Jordy Nelson did in 2011. But that’s probably not even remotely realistic. After all, just about everything in Miami is a downgrade from in Green Bay, including Hartline’s overall talent compared to Nelson’s.
Ultimately, Hartline is just in a crummy situation. He’s not healthy, doesn’t have a clear role, and will be operating with a rookie passer. It all leads to WR4 value at best, with little hope for much more.