After a spectacular Week 1 debut, it may be a stretch to call Brian Hartline a Dark Horse candidate, but we have seen the Miami Dolphins receiver flash and disappear before, making him a tough start.
He surprised everyone last week when he torched the Cleveland Browns for 114 yards and one of the prettiest touchdowns of the week. He caught the ball nine times and averaged over 12 yards per reception. It was a top-10 performance. If he were able to sustain this type of production, he would be Fantasy gold as a WR2, or even better as a Flex.
The question is, can he be counted on this season?
Last year, Hartline was the Dolphins’ No. 1 wide receiver, but with a rookie quarterback, offensive coordinator and head coach, teams did not have to dig deep to figure out where the ball was going on most Sundays. He broke out in Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals for a massive 253 yards and a score, which sent Fantasy owners rushing to snatch him from the waiver wires. Unfortunately, Hartline turned out to be fool’s gold when defenses began focusing on him.
This season will be different though, this season Hartline has a secret weapon by the name of Mike Wallace.
There is little doubt that the attention opposing teams will dedicate to Wallace is going to benefit Hartline. It happened last week when the Browns assigned Joe Hadden the task of covering Wallace, and then gave him help to make sure the Dolphins were not able to go over the top on them. It was a great plan as far as containing Wallace was concerned. Cleveland held the speedy wideout to just one catch, effectively taking him out of the game.
With all of the attention going to Wallace, Hartline was able to operate with impunity, catching balls all over the field and producing one of the best stat lines of the week. Fellow receiver Brandon Gibson was able to take advantage as well, catching seven balls and racking up 77 yards of his own. Both managed to get off without the threat of a running game to help balance their offense out.
We may have only had a small sample size at this point, but Wallace is going to continue to receive the lion’s share of attention from opposing defenses. It was part of the reason the Dolphins spent so much money on him this spring, and as long as he is on the field, he will be opening up the game for Hartline.
Grab Hartline and start him as soon as this week against the Indianapolis Colts. Chances are, he won’t leave your starting roster until Week 6 when the Dolphins have a bye.