Offseason Beats: Rex Orange County & the Miami Dolphins
A lot has happened since my previous edition of “Offseason Beats.” The beginning of NFL free agency, unexpected trades galore, court drama and even a drive-by-slapping at the Oscars this past Sunday.
We’ve witnessed the pop-culture take-over of the popular New York Times game Wordle, unrest in Europe, gas prices higher than anyone has ever seen and 70-plus degree temperatures in Antarctica. I’m here, happy to let everyone else talk about most of that.
Instead, I will analyze the impact the last month had on the NFL team from South Beach. But first, let us flashback to my final concert before the COVID-19 pandemic prompted by one of my favorite musical artist’s recently-released new album.
My Final Pre-Pandemic Concert
If you haven’t heard of Rex Orange County before, you are in for a treat! My wife, Jen, and I discovered his music thanks to Alt Nation on Sirius XM radio sometime in early 2018 as we were undoubtedly driving around in our truck trying to get our very young son to sleep.
If you have kids, you know this game. It’s a desperate play to try to get some peace, and this particular time we were gifted with new music. The song was “Loving Is Easy,” and he wasn’t wrong. When we got home, we started seeking his music out on Amazon Music (our streaming platform of choice) and were instantly smitten.
Fast Forward to Jan. 20, 2020. We were roughly two years into our obsession with Rex Orange County, and he happened to be in town. He was touring in support of his new album, “Pony.” As you can imagine, with a young child at home, Jen and I couldn’t get out much. Her parents were kind enough to keep him for the night so we could attend. We had purchased the tickets a few months prior and the anticipation was almost boiling over by the time we arrived at the venue, the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver.
As is typical when attending any concert venue in downtown Denver, you never get to park close. Most concert spots are along historic Colfax Avenue, the longest continuous road in America, which also happens to run right through the middle of the city. We walked a few blocks in the cold to stand in a long line outside. It wrapped around the block and was full of people far younger than us. I’m not kidding when I say we were probably the oldest people there.
Age difference aside, it was just nice to be out in public, not to mention seeing one of our absolute favorite musicians. We had general admission tickets, so we quickly found a spot on the floor, near the bar, of course. We grabbed drinks, and shortly after settling in, the lights dimmed, and the crowd quickly grew silent. After a brief period of anticipation and quiet, the curtain flew up, and he went straight into his set, starting with one of our favorite songs, “Sunflower.” The entire crowd sang along to every single word, and it set the tone for a fantastic concert and an incredible night.
A lot of the details of that concert have faded away in the last two years, but the emotion has not. It was our last big event before the world shut down, thanks to COVID-19. At the time, we had no idea what was about to happen; our newfound determination to start taking in more live music was about to be thwarted before it even became a reality.
The yearning for a return to normal made the recent release of Rex Orange County’s new album “WHO CARES?” much needed. I had a chance to take a break from resting content over last week and give it a full listen.
“WHO CARES?” Album Review
Rex Orange County’s real name is Alexander James O’Connor. He is from Grayshott in the United Kingdom and is 24 years old. He self-released his first album, “Bcos U Will Never B Free,” in 2015 at 17. To say he is a musical prodigy would be an understatement. His early work is well-composed and polished, hopeful yet introspective, technical yet simple. His latest album is no different. “
WHO CARES?” is a product of the pandemic. The first track, “Keep It Up,” sets the tone for the record. Heavy on piano and highlighted vocals from O’Connell, it has a message of hope coming from the loneliness of the last year. This theme understandable carries through the entire album, but he manages to keep it upbeat in a way only he can. The blend of hip-hop, funk, rock, yacht rock and symphonic elements keeps this album fresh from start to finish.
I could write 2,000 more words about this album, but I’ll simply say this; Rex Orange County is a star in waiting, and his latest album is his best to date. If you like music, you’re going to like him. He is touring this summer in support of his new offering, and if he comes to a city or town near you, I would highly recommend making a night of it and checking him out live.
Also perhaps coming to a town near you this upcoming NFL season is the new “fastest show on turf,” aka the Miami Dolphins. Let’s break down how this speedy team came to fruition seemingly overnight and what it means for your dynasty fantasy football teams.
Offseason NFL Beats: Free Agency Madness Ends in Miami
We are now two weeks into the new NFL league year, and it has been quite a wild ride so far. This is easily the most active free agency period we’ve ever seen, and it’s safe to say it’s not over yet.
Much of the movement we’ve seen was as expected. We knew quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was going to land a starting job somewhere. It wasn’t the least bit surprising to see Allen Robinson get an opportunity to be a WR2 in a dynamic offense.
But what has set this offseason apart are the trades. It started with the Dallas Cowboys trading wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and spiraled from there. Russell Wilson is a Denver Bronco, Deshaun Watson is a Cleveland Brown.
Most shocking of all, Tyreek Hill is now a Miami Dolphin.
Tyreek Hill Takes His Talents to South Beach
This one has to be the most shocking of all the trades and signings or non-signings so far in 2022. I think most football fans assumed Hill would be a Kansas City Chief for at least close to the entirety of his career. Just two weeks ago, multiple news outlets reported that Hill was indeed close to getting a contract extension done to accomplish just that.
Then, on March 23, news broke that contract talks had stalled, and Hill‘s camp had been given permission to seek a trade. Within a few hours, Kansas City had worked out a deal to send him to Miami for fice draft picks, including the Dolphins’ first and second-round picks in the upcoming draft.
Miami is now in somewhat of a foggy situation post-trade. There were already questions about what the Dolphins’ front office was doing with the signing of running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert. Adding those two free agents to go along with incumbent backs Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed leaves the feeling that it will be a likely committee approach at the position.
Before the trade, Jaylen Waddle was primed for a potential WR1 season after a breakout 2021 campaign. Tight end Mike Gesicki appeared to be in line for an increase in targets in 2022. So, what now with this Miami offense?
Hill stands to “command a fairly high target share,” said Troy King of Yahoo! Sports and Footballguys in a March 29 Twitter Direct Message (DM). “It will be less [volume] for the others [offensive skill position players], but he will also help them get open, so the quality of targets may be better because Hill commands so much attention.”
I was already lower than consensus on Gesicki before the trade, and it has done him no favors, at least for his volume. He will have the volume that puts him in TE2 conversation moving forward. But as King alluded to, Hill may do enough drawing of coverage to allow Gesicki to improve his efficiency as he bares a 62.6 career catch percentage and 11.3 Yards Per Reception (YPR).
If DeVante Parker’s fantasy value wasn’t low enough before this trade, it certainly is now. As long as he remains in Miami, he is unlikely to have any value beyond a desperation flex play and deep bench stash. Waddle should continue to be a solid asset. If anything, as highlighted by King, he stands to benefit from the increased attention Hill will draw.
As for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, this shouldn’t move the needle much on his value. Yes, Miami has added an elite wide receiver, but that most likely won’t change the passing volume in the Dolphins’ offense. If anything, the additions of Mostert and Edmonds and head coach Mike McDaniel from Sanfrancisco indicate this team will be looking to focus more on the run in 2022.
While this trade clearly impacts fantasy values across the board for both teams involved, it’s only March. We still have the NFL Draft coming up at the end of April and haven’t even had the first round of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). A lot can, and will, still happen between now and September.
The most important thing to do right now is to use these reactionary changes in perceived fantasy value to your advantage. If you have a manager in your league who is now lower on Waddle because of Hill, make an offer. There is no offseason in dynasty fantasy football.
As always, thanks for reading! I’ll be back next month with another edition of “Offseason Beats,” but until then come find my other content on Twitter, @NatePolvogt.