The 2022 offseason has been the craziest in NFL history. I don’t think it is hyperbole to say that. Less than a week after the Packers traded Davante Adams to the Raiders, the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. What are the fantasy football ramifications on the Dolphins’ side of the Hill trade?
Fantasy impact of the Tyreek Hill trade
News ramped up quickly on the morning of Wednesday, March 23, 2022. It started with an Ian Rapoport tweet indicating that extension talks with Hill had stalled, and his agent was given permission to seek a trade.
The situation quickly developed into the Dolphins and Jets as frontrunners. Hill wants to be the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL, and anyone trading for him needed to be able to make that happen.
Ultimately, the decision was up to Hill. In the end, he chose the Dolphins and a four-year contract extension worth $120 million.
According to Adam Schefter, the Dolphins sent a 2022 first-round pick (No. 29), a second-round pick (No. 50) and a fourth-round pick, as well as fourth- and sixth-round selections in the 2023 NFL Draft for Hill. With Hill now in Miami, this obviously has massive fantasy implications. Let’s discuss.
Fantasy impact of Hill trade on Tua Tagovailoa
Easily the biggest beneficiary of Hill joining the Dolphins is the quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa isn’t known for his big arm. Although he did lead the NFL in deep completion percentage last season, he didn’t throw downfield often. Tagovailoa averaged just 2.2 deep attempts per game.
While this may seem concerning, allow me to remind you of another quarterback not known for being much of a downfield passer. That man’s name was Alex Smith. In 2017, Smith was the Chiefs’ starting quarterback. 2017 was the first season after Hill’s mini-breakout as a rookie and his first season as a clear starter.
In 2017, all Smith did was finish sixth in deep attempts (4.5 per game) and fourth in yards per attempt at 8.0. Smith had a 48.5% deep completion percentage, the second-highest in the NFL. Yes, I am crediting Hill with just about all of this.
Hill can do for Tagovailoa what he did for Smith. He can turn Tagovailoa into a passer not afraid to take shots downfield. New head coach Mike McDaniel is, by all accounts, a smart guy. He’s going to design this passing game around Hill.
Tagovailoa was a low-end QB2 in 2021, averaging just 14.5 fantasy points per game. While I wouldn’t expect a jump to the top five, which is where Smith finished in 2017, Tagovailoa can absolutely be a QB1 solely based on Hill’s impact.
How the trade affects Hill’s fantasy value
Going from Patrick Mahomes to Tagovailoa is an obvious downgrade. Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL and, in my humble opinion, the most physically talented quarterback of all time. Mahomes and Hill were the perfect QB-WR pairing. Hill is obviously a WR1 anywhere he goes. But is he still an elite WR1?
There are a lot of factors at play here. First, I do trust McDaniel. He’s not going to pigeonhole Hill into being a one- or two-dimensional player. McDaniel utilized Deebo Samuel all over the formation last season in San Francisco. While Hill and Samuel are much different size-wise, the utilization is what intrigues me.
Expect to see Hill in the backfield, in motion, outside, in the slot, and just about everywhere.
Hill remains a WR1 in Miami, but he has to be downgraded going from Mahomes to Tagovailoa. Fantasy managers should consider him more of a mid-to-low WR1 than the top-three guy he’s been the past two seasons. Hill averaged 16.1 PPR ppg with Smith in 2017. That would be my immediate early projection for Hill in 2022.
Fantasy impact of Tyreek Hill trade on Dolphins skill players
The Dolphins were able to acquire Hill with nothing more than draft picks. They were able to keep all of their players.
This is a team that already rostered three fantasy-relevant pass catchers. Well, it’s still only going to have three fantasy-relevant pass catchers. Someone is getting left out. Who will that be?
No, it won’t be Waddle. The Dolphins’ sophomore wide receiver they spent a top 10 pick on in the 2021 NFL Draft will not be marginalized. He obviously drops from the team’s WR1 to the WR2, but Waddle is a very talented player.
Last season, Waddle averaged 15.5 ppg, finishing just outside the top 12 wide receivers in fantasy points per game. While Waddle will still be effective, it’s hard to imagine him being a 140-target guy once again. Not with Hill in town.
Of course, Hill’s presence will prevent defenses from keying in on Waddle. At the same time, he’s no longer the primary target for Tagovailoa.
Will the Dolphins let Tagovailoa throw the ball 600 times? With this passing attack, they should. Last season, he and Jacoby Brissett combined for 615 attempts. Even if we give Waddle a 22% target share, that’s still only 132 targets on 600 pass attempts. Dynasty managers should still consider Waddle a top-12 wide receiver, but he will live in Hill’s shadow for the time being. Waddle is more of a low, floor-based WR2 at first glance for 2022.
This is bad news for DeVante Parker. I fully expected him to be included in the deal. He wasn’t. Now, he’s relegated to the third option in the passing game — at best. He might even be fourth or fifth behind Chase Edmonds and Mike Gesicki.
Parker had that scorching finish to 2019, where he was the overall WR2 in fantasy for a stretch. He was overdrafted in 2020, as a result, and then a bit undervalued in 2021.
Last season, Parker battled a lingering hamstring injury and managed just 11.5 PPR ppg. He was a WR4 in fantasy, even in the games he did play.
With Hill in town and Waddle entrenched as the WR2, Parker will not be on the field unless the Dolphins run three-receiver sets. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he is traded or released. For now, under the presumption he remains with the Dolphins, Parker is undraftable in standard-sized redraft leagues.
The perpetually overrated Mike Gesicki may finally be properly rated. Gesicki is an incredible athlete, but those skills have never consistently translated into on-field production.
In 2021, Gesicki caught 73 passes on 112 targets for 780 yards and 2 touchdowns, playing in all 17 games. This led him to a TE15 finish, averaging 9.6 ppg.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s probably not getting any better. Gesicki may be more efficient, but I can’t say he will command 100+ targets on a team with Hill, Waddle, and Edmonds.
Fantasy managers can still draft Gesicki as a TE2, especially if you’re the type to wait on the tight end position. He will have weeks where defenses forget about him, and he should find the end zone 5-6 times. However, I don’t see consistent production coming from Gesicki this season.
Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert
For the purposes of the Dolphins’ running game, let’s assume Raheem Mostert is the primary runner and Edmonds is the passing-down back.
For Mostert, the only impact is on the overall improvement of the Dolphins’ offense. They added Hill and lost nothing in the way of players. This offense will be better, which means more touchdowns and more opportunities for Mostert to run them in.
As for Edmonds, this is probably a slight tick downward for him. Both Hill and Waddle can work all over the field. They are downfield threats and checkdown options. Odds are, one will be running deep while the other is underneath. Tagovailoa is going to look for his wide receivers before his running backs. As a result, Edmonds’ projected target share needs to decrease.
It’s still very early in the process, but consider Edmonds more of a low RB2/high RB3 for now. We’ll have to see if the Dolphins make any more moves as well as what they do with the picks they didn’t give to the Chiefs in this year’s draft as well.