The Miami Dolphins will look a lot different this season, but
one thing thatís not changing is the teamís leader
behind center, Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa has now started 21 games
for the Dolphins throughout his first two seasons, totaling 27
touchdown passes with 15 interceptions and throwing for 4,427
yards. While his six rushing touchdowns have helped, those passing
numbers just have not been enough to make him a viable weekly
starting option in normal, single-quarterback fantasy formats.
The team did make significant changes this offseason, however,
including adding superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill. They did
lose DeVante Parker, but the acquisition of Hill is perhaps the
most significant non-quarterback move that any team made this
past offseason. Hill immediately expands the teamís offensive
versatility as heís perhaps the NFLís best deep threat since Randy
Moss. While itís true that Tagovailoa has not been much of a downfield
thrower thus far in his career, itís worth considering that he
hasnít had the receivers to make that a consistently viable option.
Weíve seen players like Josh Allen take huge steps forward when
he got an elite downfield threat upgrade with Stefon Diggs so
it would not be at all surprising to see Tua start chucking the
ball down the field at a higher rate.
Even with the addition of Hill, the continued development of
2021 breakout rookie Jaylen Waddle, and the addition of former
Dallas Cowboys receiver Cedrick
Wilson, Tua remains a tough player to trust in single quarterback
formats. Heís not much of a runner despite his six career rushing
touchdowns and the Dolphins are likely to lean heavily on their
running game, following the offensive philosophy that McDaniel
will inevitably carry over from his days in San Francisco where
he worked under Kyle Shanahan. Tagovailoa could be an interesting
option in two-QB or superflex formats, however, as he will unquestionably
have the best weapons of his career and he narrowly missed out
on being a top-24 option in 2021.
With Mike McDaniel taking over as head coach after spending the
past five years in San Francisco, it shouldnít be surprising
that the Miami backfield looks like a complete nightmare for fantasy
purposes. The fantasy football graveyard is littered with the
broken dreams of managers whoíve tried to predict where
that backfield was headed. The 49ers consistently rostered numerous
viable options and many times the players who consensus thought
would lead the backfields end up being completely worthless, and
The Dolphins backfield looks a lot like those situations headed
into 2022, with Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, Sony Michel, and
Myles Gaskin all having a realistic chance of scoring significant
fantasy points. Certainly not all of them will be able to do it,
but like what we saw in San Francisco, this could easily be a
situation where the team rotates around, utilizing the ďhot handĒ
approach and causing headaches for those whoíve invested draft
picks in any of these players.
If weíre going to take a stab at predicting the backfield,
it makes sense to start with the teamís financial investment
in each player. The Dolphins had already rostered Gaskin and Salvon
Ahmed, but they brought in Mostert and Michel on relatively team-friendly
deals while giving Edmonds by far the biggest contract in the
backfield. While that alone doesnít mean that Edmonds will
step in as a bell cow back in 2022, it likely means that the coaches
would need to see someone else step up in a big way to supplant
him as the teamís top running back.
Edmonds spent the first three years of his NFL career primarily
playing a complementary role to David Johnson and then Kenyan
Drake in Arizona. He never reached 100 rushing attempts or 500
yards on the ground until 2021 when those two backs were gone.
While the Cardinals brought in James Conner who then far out-scored
Edmonds, itís worth noting that Edmonds played in just 12
games and much of the out-scoring that happened was due to role,
as Conner was the teamís red zone back, which allowed him
to score a ton of touchdowns in a very good offense. What those
fantasy totals donít tell you is that Edmonds was actually
quite a bit more efficient than Conner as he averaged nearly a
yard and a half more per carry.
Edmondsí best asset is not his between-the-tackles running
but rather his ability in the passing game, where heís caught
96 passes over his past two seasons. He delivered these totals
despite playing with one of the leagueís most elusive runners
at quarterback, which rarely leads to many pass catching opportunities
for running backs. A move to Miami and a chance to play with a
more traditional pocket passer in Tagovailoa should actually allow
Edmonds to have even more opportunities to make plays in the passing
game, which should give him the inside edge to be the top-scoring
back in Miami. Still, fantasy owners should go into the season
expecting some frustration from Edmonds as it would not be surprising
to see him lead the backfield in touches only for some other back
to come in and steal some of his touchdowns.
While Miami is financially most invested in Edmonds among the
players in this confusing backfield, itís interesting to
note that new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel has first-hand
experience with only one of them, that being Raheem Mostert. Mostert
and McDaniel were both in San Francisco for the past five seasons
and now they join up again in Miami, this time with McDaniel being
the one calling the plays.
Mostertís run with the 49ers will be remembered by countless
big plays, but also with numerous injuries that kept him from
ever really becoming the teamís primary back for any extended
period of time. Mostert was poised to be that player heading into
2021, but he suffered a knee injury that ended his season in Week
1. Certainly, there have to be injury concerns when youíre
drafting a player like Mostert for your fantasy squad, but if
his own former coach is willing to take the chance on him again,
it seems likely that heíll be given at least some sort of
an opportunity to get on the field here in 2022.
Assuming heís fully ready to go for Week 1, expect that
Mostert will have a role right away. With Edmonds being a much
more proven and effective pass catcher but lacking in between-the-tackles
rushing ability, perhaps a direct complementary role would be
best for Mostert. This could be similar to the role played by
James Conner as Edmonds' complement in Arizona this past season.
Donít expect that crazy touchdown efficiency, of course,
and there will almost certainly be other backs who see the field,
but Mostert has the potential to lead this backfield in carries
in 2022 and thatís worth taking a shot on in the double-digit
rounds where heís currently being drafted.
Running backs Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed are carryovers from
the previous regime and while they have history with the franchise,
the team is not exactly heavily invested in either of them going
forward. That has to be the primary concern for both players at
the moment, as the Dolphins could easily move on from one or both
of them prior to the regular season kicking off.
Right now it would appear that Gaskin is more likely to make
the roster than Ahmed given that heís been the significantly
more effective back between the two, even though neither player
was very impressive in 2021. Gaskin averaged just 3.5 yards per
carry which is terrible, but it looks like monster production
in comparison to the horrendous 2.8 yards per carry that Ahmed
delivered. Of course, much of that was due to a terrible run blocking
from the offensive line in front of them, but neither player was
good enough to guarantee themselves a roster spot heading into
If Gaskin does make the roster, it will likely be almost as an
insurance policy for Edmonds. Gaskin hasnít been an effective
runner thus far in his NFL career, but heís quietly caught
90 total passes over his past two seasons. That kind of production
in the passing game has kept a lot of players floating around
the league for way longer than they otherwise would have and Gaskin
could be the next player on that list.
In the scenario that Edmonds does get hurt, Gaskin could absolutely
deliver some fantasy-relevant weeks, but itís tough to think
of a scenario where he steps in and leads this backfield in 2022
like he did this past season. In fact, if he does end up seeing
significant touches, itís almost certainly going to be because
one or more of the other Dolphins backs got hurt, or because heís
on a new roster to start the regular season.
Keep an eye out on this situation as the preseason and regular
season inch closer. If we start to hear grumblings that the Dolphins
are interested in moving on from him, thatís probably a
good sign for his fantasy value in 2022.
Former first round NFL Draft pick Sony Michel spent his first
three seasons with the Patriots before being traded to the Rams
prior to the start of the 2021 season. Michel would go on to lead
the Rams backfield with 208 carries after injuries to both Cam
Akers and Darrell Henderson led to him shooting up the depth chart.
While Michel was not particularly efficient with his touches and
he remains a low volume pass catcher, he was obviously good enough
to spark the interest of the Dolphins who signed him this offseason.
Michelís contract is not nearly that of Chase Edmonds or
even Raheem Mostert, but itís one that almost guarantees
that heíll make the roster based on how itís structured.
The team would save very little money by cutting him before the
start of the season, so the chances that another back like Ahmed,
Gerrid Doaks or ZaQuandre White makes the roster over him are
very low. If one of those players ends up being on the 53-man
roster, itíll almost certainly be due to injury or because
the team moves on from Gaskin.
This roster security makes for an interesting fantasy situation
as Michel has not proven to be a great pass catching back and
is instead similar to Mostert as a more traditional ball carrier,
only with less explosiveness. A Dolphins backfield consisting
of Mostert and Michel being the primary runners with Edmonds getting
around 100 carries on the season and being the teamís primary
passing down back seems to make a lot of structural sense.
Assuming everyone stays healthy, Michel wonít start the
season as the teamís top back. This backfield is full of
players with long injury histories, though, and it just seems
like there will eventually be an opportunity for him to lead the
backfield this season. Heís been effective as a multi-week
fill-in before, so donít be surprised if that happens again.
Elite-level wide receivers moving to new teams has been a surprisingly
common occurrence in recent years, but this offseason was unlike
any other as studs like Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, Amari Cooper,
and Allen Robinson all found new homes. But perhaps none was more
surprising than when Kansas City decided to trade Tyreek Hill
Now in his new home with the Dolphins, Hill will no longer be
playing with a certified generational quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.
Heíll now be tethered to Tua Tagovailoa who, despite having
valid excuses, has not been particularly great through his first
two professional seasons.
Hill immediately injects dynamite into the Dolphins offense as
heís perhaps the leagueís quickest player and heís
been one of the most explosive downfield playmakers for many years
now. While Mahomesí cannon of an arm made for more exciting
big plays, itís worth noting that Hill was actually still
pretty effective prior to playing with Mahomes. Hill went for
nearly 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns in his second professional
season with Alex Smith, a notoriously safe and low depth-of-target
passer, behind center.
Hill was considered by most to be a top two fantasy wide receiver
heading into the 2021 season and while he finished seventh at
the position, he was a slight disappointment overall. Heís
now being selected around the fifth to eighth wide receiver off
the board, which doesnít give him a lot of opportunity to
outperform that ADP. Itís tough for receivers to make a
transition to a new offense and weíve seen it take many
weeks or even a full season for them to get completely acclimated
in their new environments.
With numerous other viable pass catchers and an offensive philosophy
that is likely to be more run-heavy than what he experienced in
Kansas City, Hill is going to need to up his efficiency in order
to deliver the fantasy production to match his draft day cost.
Heís not going to completely burn you given the target share heís
likely to see, but understand that heís also unlikely to produce
the same type of numbers that we saw from him during his top years
with the Chiefs.
Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle was a controversial pick when the
Dolphins selected him in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The stylistic comparisons to his college teammate Henry Ruggs
did him no favors, but Waddle was also coming off of a final season
at Alabama in which he played just six games. Miami was in desperate
need of pass catching weapons, though, so they pulled the trigger
and thankfully for them it worked out. Waddle was one of the draftís
most productive offensive playmakers as he was one of just 10
players, and the only rookie, who reached 100 receptions in 2021.
Waddle proved himself to be a playmaker at the NFL level and he
has fully recovered from the injury he sustained in his final
Now heading into his second season, Waddle looked poised to take
another step forward as Miamiís top pass catcher. The team
moved on from veteran DeVante Parker and an even higher target
share was in the cards for Waddle. However, the Dolphinsí
acquisition of Tyreek Hill now makes things quite a bit more volatile
for the second-year wideout.
Waddle was a fine fantasy producer as a rookie but he primarily
did it with volume and not with efficiency. His 9.8 yards per
reception ranked outside the top 100 among all pass catchers.
While we should expect that he will see an uptick in per-catch
efficiency in 2022 due to the overall team offensive upgrades,
Waddle will certainly find himself having to compete with Hill
for targets. Both players finished in the top 16 among all wide
receivers in total share of their teamís targets in 2021, with
both finishing at just over 25 percent. Itís theoretically possible
that we could see them both finish around that range, as we saw
with Seattleís duo of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in 2021, but
that was on a team that had practically no other pass catching
weapons on the roster. The Dolphins may not be the most stacked
roster ever, but they brought in Cedrick Wilson from the Cowboys
and they still have Mike Gesicki along with a couple of effective
pass-catching running backs on their depth chart.
Whatís more likely to happen is that both Hill and Waddle
see a bit of a dip in their total target share from 2021 and that
could also be accompanied by a lower total team pass attempt rate.
The Dolphins threw the eighth-most total passes in 2021, while
the 49ers were all the way down at 31st. Mike McDaniel was not
directly calling the plays for San Francisco, but certainly his
offensive philosophy will be more similar to that of Kyle Shanahan
than what we saw from the previous regime in Miami.
All of this isnít to say that Waddle canít return
fantasy value this season, but heís going to need to do
it with increased efficiency and likely a higher receiving touchdown
number than the six he scored in 2021. Waddle finished as the
WR12 in PPR scoring this past season and 20th in standard scoring
leagues. Heís being drafted around those ranges in each
format, so, like Hill, heís likely being selected closer
to his ceiling than his floor. Nevertheless, heís a relatively
safe option given his role as a low-depth-of-target weapon in
Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki narrowly missed finishing the
2021 season as a low-end TE1 for fantasy, but he’s actually
being selected above that spot in most drafts this offseason.
This is a bit confusing given that no player was more affected
by the additions of Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson and Chase Edmonds
than was Mike Gesicki.
Gesicki is technically a tight end, but he’s one of those
players who’s spent most of his time playing out of the
slot rather than lining up as a traditional on-the-line tight
end. In fact, he led all NFL tight ends in snaps out of the slot
this past season and he finished third in total routes run. With
the signings of those other players, though, one has to assume
that Gesicki is going to be asked to play inside more often and
perhaps line up as a traditional blocking tight end much more
often than he has throughout his run in Miami.
The obvious case for Gesicki moving up the tight end rankings
is, of course, his lack of luck in the red zone. Gesicki scored
just two touchdowns in 2021 after scoring six and five touchdowns
in his previous two seasons. If he scored just four more touchdowns
on the season, Gesicki would’ve shot all the way up from
finishing as the TE13 on the year to the TE7. He would’ve
been within three points of being a top five producer at the position
for the season.
Like other pass catchers in this offense, though, for Gesicki
to return fantasy value, he’s going to need to be more efficient
on a per-target basis. He certainly has the physical skill set
to do that and it stands to reason that the Dolphins will have
more red zone opportunities this season than they did a year ago.
Still, Gesicki’s volume is almost certainly going to go
down from where it was in 2021 now that he is dealing with much
better teammate competition.
Normally these concerns would be a red flag for fantasy purposes,
but the reality is that after about the top five tight ends or
so, you’re looking at a ton of volatility at the position
and not a huge investment. Like most tight ends, Gesicki will
likely have his weeks where he looks like the next big thing at
the position and then he’ll completely dud out in three
of his next four contests. That’s just the life of being
a non-elite fantasy option at the position.