With all due respect to Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Miami Dolphins would be out of their mind to start him over Tua Tagovailoa. That of course, assumes the rookie signal-caller is healthy to start the season.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. All the news about Tagovailoa is focused on whether he will be ready, so let’s just assume he’ll be ready by the time you need him to be ready. If you need to start your backup in Week 1, you’re already in trouble!
Tagovailoa is a stash player, not a guy you’re calling upon Week 1. Miami is going to take it slow with him and ease him onto the field. As noted earlier this offseason:
“Even though Tagovailoa is healing better than expected, he likely won’t be able to play during Week 1 of the upcoming NFL season.
“I don’t want to make it sound like he’s far away, but it is a lot of steps from now to then for opening day or Game 1,” Wilk said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. “But so far, so good.”
All the hemming and hawing about whether teams will have training camp and whether he’ll get enough practice reps is all well and good, but you can afford to take on big risks in 12-team leagues with your backup QB. This quarterback group this year is stacked: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and so on. You know the names. Almost every team in your league is going to have a really good QB. Where you’re looking to take advantage of the market is by shooting for the moon. You’re hoping to acquire trade capital with Tagovailoa for when a big-name QB inevitably gets hurt. Then if you stash him, you’re hoping he really comes into his own in the second half of the season.
What you’re drafting is Tagovailoa’s ceiling and while rookie QBs rarely make a huge splash, we already know what Tyrod Taylor is going to do (not much). We also already know what Derek Carr is going to do (nada). Avoid the safe plays and so-so veterans who have a track record of mediocrity.
Even in a 2QB/superflex league, you can likely grab Tagovailoa as your QB3 if the draft falls your way since he is currently the 27th QB off the board. We can probably all agree he would be higher up if he were healthy and Fitzpatrick was not in the picture. Some view these as risks, I’m viewing them as distractions.
In any other year where Joe Burrow doesn’t have the best collegiate QB season ever, Tagovailoa is the No. 1 pick. Would we really doubt whether he was going to play if he went first overall?
A year ago at this time, Tagovailoa was the unquestioned first overall pick! He does everything right, except get hurt, and now Burrow is going 10 QBs ahead of Tagovailoa. Some may tout the Bengals supporting cast, but a rookie is still just a rookie. Both of them are wild cards and Tagovailoa comes at a much more significant discount.
What’s appetizing about the Dolphins offense this season is a bolstered offensive line and what should be an improved run game. That balance along with the ability to effectively use play-action can be a game-changer.
Miami added Tagovailoa in Round 1 but they also selected offensive tackles Austin Jackson (Round 1, Pick 18 and Robert Hunt (Round 2, Pick 7). A year ago, the Dolphins ranked last in rushing attempts (349) and last in total rushing yards (1,156). The offensive line allowed 58 sacks and 147 QB hits. For those like me who struggle with math, let me break out the calculator (3.6 sacks per game, 9.2 QB hits per game).
Like any rookie QB, there will be growing pains and real pains. The OL unit was addressed but that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed instant success. This is still the Dolphins, right guys?
There are other promising players here, like second-year WR Preston Williams, who I wrote about as another late-round flier option to consider. DeVante Parker finally met his potential last year. Mike Gesicki is considered a rising sleeper tight end. Everybody here is supposed to be good, but Tagovailoa gets the cold shoulder from fantasy analysts? I see how it is!
If you draft your kicker and team defense in the final two rounds, you can probably grab Tagovailoa in the third-from-last round.
If you’re especially risk-averse or you feel you need a safer backup QB, I get it. Those should be the only two reasons you don’t have the former Alabama Crimson Tide QB on your board at his current ADP.