While the draft and waivers impact a fantasy football team, nothing else matters if you make the wrong lineup decisions. As managers make the final tweaks to their lineups for Week 4, should you start Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa against the Cincinnati Bengals in your fantasy football lineup?
Tua Tagovailoa’s fantasy upside is beginning to show in 2022
Fair or not, Tua Tagovailoa has lived under the spotlight as both the NFL and fantasy football communities analyze and critique every single play with a fine-tooth comb. Tua couldn’t afford a slow start. Three games in and staring down a matchup with the Bengals, I’d say Tua is passing with flying colors and, in the process, quieting a lot of his detractors in the process.
Tua had an average opening week, passing for 270 yards with a touchdown. He, along with the Dolphins’ offense, then went ballistic in Week 2. Going toe-to-toe with Lamar Jackson, Tua completed 36 of 50 attempts for a staggering 469 yards with six touchdowns. His four TDs in their fourth quarter alone were tied for the fourth most amongst all QBs through the first two weeks.
Facing a daunting Bills defense, Tua had an expected regression in Week 3. With that said, he played far better than others had this year. In 2022, Buffalo had limited Matthew Stafford to just 8.5 fantasy points in Week 1, forcing three interceptions and just 0.88 fantasy points to Ryan Tannehill in Week 2.
Tagovailoa completed 13 of his 18 passes for 186 yards with a touchdown on Sunday, helping the Dolphins edge the Bills. While his 11 points were a step back, it was expected. What we didn’t expect was to see Tua sustain one of the more bizarre injuries and force many of us to question what a concussion is.
Tua Tagovailoa remains questionable for Thursday night
Let me see if I got this right. It’s been a while. The back bone’s connected to the neck bone, and the neck bone’s connected to the head bone. The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone. So how do you knock the back of your head on the ground but end up with back and ankle injury designations?
I’ve never claimed to be a doctor, and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express, but when Tua’s head hit the back of the ground and he was stumbling, nearly falling over, and being held up by his offensive lineman, that tends to suggest some kind of head injury. Especially when that player is shaking his head trying to get the cobwebs out. Yet, Tua apparently didn’t have a concussion as he came back in and finished the game.
Adding to the questions is Tua being labeled as questionable on the Dolphins’ practice report with back and ankle injuries. Tua was listed as a non-participant on Monday, but this was only an estimate as they didn’t hold a practice. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Miami listed Tua as limited, but these were only walkthroughs.
Luckily enough for the Dolphins and fantasy managers alike, Tua is expected to play on Thursday Night. But should he be in your starting lineup?
Should you start Tua Tagovailoa against the Bengals in Week 4?
Cincinnati, in no uncertain terms, should not be confused with the Buffalo Bills. Where Buffalo was No. 1 in EPA last year and sits No. 2 in EPA and EPA/dropback, the Bengals are fifth in EPA, fourth in EPA/dropback and have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season (9.89).
However, we have to add context to this. This season, Cincy has faced Mitch Trubisky, Cooper Rush, and Joe Flacco. That’s three backup QBs, and yes, I include Trubisky as Kenny Pickett should be the starter. Those numbers are flat-out lies and another example of how stats are useless without proper context.
The Bengals don’t have the secondary that can match the explosiveness of either Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle. In fairness, hardly anyone does. We’re looking at Eli Apple or Chidobe Awuzie trying to contain the dynamic duo.
Apple is allowing a 75% catch rate when targeted and has a well-known history of being burnt like a piece of white bread in a cheap toaster. Awuzie has a better track record and did about as good as you could ask, holding Hill to 138 yards and a touchdown on 13 of 20 receiving in their two matchups. But at the end of the day, Hill will eventually get his.
For me, Tua and both of his receivers are must-starts, each inside the top ten at their own positions in PFN’s fantasy football rankings. This passing attack is lethal, and at any moment, they can break a long play. Mike McDaniel is the mad scientist we hoped, and when the pressure is placed on a defense thanks to the combination of speed plus pre and post-snap motion, they force mistakes and gaps in coverage.
Tua’s accuracy and anticipation are fantastic, and he is showing he can help get the Dolphins to the next step. If you have him or are streaming the position, start Tua for Week 4 and head into Sunday with your opponent on the back foot.