Friday, August 19, 2022

2022 Dolphins Fantasy Football Preview: It’s all on Tua Tagovailoa now

After striking out in their attempts to upgrade at QB, the Dolphins doubled down on Tua Tagovailoa by adding Tyreek Hill. It’s not the most natural fit — Tua is no Patrick Mahomes, after all — but Hill is the kind of player who can unlock an entire offense. We’re going to find out if Tua is for real.       

2021 Review

Record: 5 – 12 (27)

PPG: 17.9 (29)

YPG: 298.9 (30)

Pass YPG: 190.5 (29)

Rush YPG: 108.4 (20)

PAPG: 35.2 (14)

RAPG: 26.8 (14)

2021 Fantasy finishes

QB: Tua Tagovailoa QB26

RB: Myles Gaskin RB25

WR: Jaylen Waddle WR12

TE: Mike Gesicki TE9

*No longer with team

Number to know: 19.1%

That’s the percentage of Tagovailoa’s pass attempts last season that came on run-pass option concepts, the highest mark for any quarterback. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing — Parick Mahomes and Josh Allen were both near the top of the league in RPO yards and attempts last season. But it’s not clear if Tagovailoa can successfully extend his skillset beyond that — he ranked 30th in the NFL in total yards on plays that weren’t RPOs, per Sports Info Solutions. 

Now, you can come up with all kinds of excuses for why that was the case — a porous offensive line; a receiving corps that often had Waddle and not much else going for it; an offensive coaching staff without a clear hierarchy that didn’t seem to get the most out of the skill players. But, whatever the explanation, this offense is going to need to be a lot more effective this season if both Hill and Waddle are going to live up to expectations. 

Tagovailoa needs to play better in more traditional drop back settings, though one reason to be optimistic about that is new head coach Mike McDaniel. McDaniel joins the Dolphins from the 49ers, where he was the offensive coordinator last season, and he figures to bring in a lot of similar looks from Kyle Shanahan’s offense. That’s an offense that is predicated on making the QB’s job easier by getting the ball in the hands of playmakers in space. That’s how Jimmy Garoppolo has averaged 8.4 yards per attempt for his career, and with Waddle and Hill, Miami has two speedy wide receivers who figure to make a ton of plays with the ball in their hands.

If McDaniel can get similar results out of Tagovailoa as Shanahan has gotten out of Garoppolo, this offense could take a huge step forward, especially if he can juice the running game at the same time. There’s a lot riding on McDaniel coming in and making a difference, but the foundation is here for it to happen.

2021 Offseason

Draft Picks 

3. (102) Channing Tindall, LB

4. (125) Erik Ezukanma, WR

7. (224) Cameron Goode, OLB

7. (247) Skylar Thompson, QB

Additions

WR Tyreek Hill, OL Terron Armstead, RB Raheem Mostert, QB Teddy Bridgewater, WR Cedrick Wilson, RB Chase Edmonds, OL Connor Williams, RB Sony Michel

Key Departures

WR DeVante Parker, OL Jesse Davis, QB Jacoby Brissett, WR Albert Wilson, CB Justin Coleman

Available Opportunity 

142 carries, 11 RB targets, 167 WR targets, 41 TE targets 

2022 Preview

Rankings

Chris Towers’ projections

QB Tua Tagovailoa PA: 575, YD: 4023, TD: 25, INT: 11; RUSH — ATT: 49, YD: 172, TD: 1
RB Chase Edmonds CAR: 172, YD: 738, TD: 4, TAR: 69, REC: 55, YD: 399, TD: 2
RB Raheem Mostert CAR: 74, YD: 316, TD: 2, TAR: 23, REC: 18, YD: 129, TD: 1
RB Sony Michel CAR: 123, YD: 527, TD: 3, TAR: 17, REC: 14, YD: 84, TD: 1
WR Tyreek Hill TAR: 138, REC: 89, YD: 1240, TD: 8
WR Jaylen Waddle TAR: 125, REC: 81, YD: 974, TD: 6
TE Mike Gesicki TAR: 103, REC: 73, YD: 785, TD: 4

Biggest Question

Can Tua get the most out of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle?

Waddle was one of the most pleasant surprises of last season and ended up a perfect fit for an RPO-heavy offense. Mike McDaniel’s offense should scheme up a lot of similar looks for Waddle, but they’re also going to have to find ways for Hill to get involved. That’s a lot of speed from the WR spot, and Mike Gesicki is one of the quicker TEs in the league, too. But Tagovailoa is unproven as a deep passer, and if he can’t make that a big part of his game, it could limit the offense’s appeal — and Hill’s especially. I’m still drafting Hill as a top-12 guy and Waddle as a No. 2 WR, but there’s no guarantee they both hit here.

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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

The Dolphins enter the season with a crowded backfield, and the expectation is that this will end up looking a lot like the Shanahan offense in San Francisco has, with an endless stream of running backs stepping into the starting role and succeeding. The assumption is Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert will get the first crack at it, but Michel lingers as a proven, if not particularly explosive, option. If this offense is anything like the 49ers, you’ll want whichever back is getting carries, and Michel could be that guy if he has a strong training camp or injuries crop up on the depth chart ahead of him. Edmonds and Mostert haven’t exactly proven they can handle an RB1 workload, either. 

Depending on how you rank them, Hill is either the best offensive player the Dolphins have had since the early 2010s (Brandon Marshall), the early-2000s (Ricky Williams), or the late 90s (Dan Marino). Add in the expectation that McDaniel will help this whole offense take a step forward, and the breakout case for Tagovailoa is pretty obvious. He’s a talented (if limited) young quarterback whose supporting cast just got a lot better. This is truly a make-or-break season for Tagovailoa, and if he doesn’t start to look like the long-term answer, Miami will probably start looking for one again — not that they ever really stopped, based on the Deshaun Watson and Tom Brady rumors over the past few seasons. Tagovailoa doesn’t have the big arm or rushing abilities to break into the elite tier of quarterbacks, but it’s not out of the question he could become a Kirk Cousins-esque, low-end, must-start QB. 

I don’t think Hill will bust, but it’s pretty much impossible to argue he isn’t the biggest risk on this roster. Hill’s price is discounted from his time in Kansas City, but you’ll still likely have to spend a second-round pick if you want him. I think he can be worth that, but it’s worth remembering that the only Fantasy relevant WR Tagovailoa has had in two years was Waddle, who needed massive volume to get there. A bet on Hill is a bet on this offense taking a big step forward, and if that doesn’t happen, Hill could very well end up a mid-range WR2, with big weekly potential but frustrating lows as well. 

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