Miami is known for year-round sunny weather, beautiful beaches, non-stop nightlife, and sports teams that we all WANT to be good but can’t seem to get over the hump at times. The Dolphins came off a highly controversial off-season that included Bill Belichick’s texting mishaps and a discrimination lawsuit by their former coach, Brian Flores. I won’t bother going into more details, but the team was ready for a new chapter in 2023.
There was plenty for Dolphins fans to be excited about this past season, including their first trip to the playoffs since 2016. The Bills dealt a quick exit, but it was a competitive wildcard matchup (34-31 final score). If Miami is to take the next step and become a true contender in the AFC, it must be on the back of quarterback Tuanigamanuolepola Tagovailoa. You probably know him as “Tua” Tagovailoa. Here, I dive into how his 2022 season went and what we can expect from him this year.
Tua Tagovailoa 2023 Fantasy Football Outlook
Rollercoaster Start to a Career
Tagovailoa’s first two seasons in the NFL were filled with adversity. Drafted by Miami as the fourth overall pick in 2020, he didn’t see his first start until Week 6. Tagovailoa’s subsequent starts had many ups and downs, including being benched in a couple of games for journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
His second season in 2021 showed marginal improvements, but he didn’t do much to elevate his team. Tagovailoa only had one game with over 300 passing yards, and Miami fell again short of the playoffs.
The Dolphins brought Mike McDaniel on as head coach for the 2022 season, and he was the spark this offense needed. Tagovailoa missed three games due to concussions but finished with a respectable 3,548 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
It’s easy to forget how dominant Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami offense were to start 2022, so here’s a reminder. Per PFF, he led the league in Yards per Pass Attempt and QB rating, and only Patrick Mahomes put up a higher TD% rate through Week 10. Going into their Week 11 bye, Tagovailoa was the QB7 in fantasy points per game.
Tua Tagovailoa vs Bears
21/30, 301 yards, 3 TD's, 0 INT's, 135.7 passer rating pic.twitter.com/vBuAAOaKCO
— Valley Boys Sports (@VBSofficial_) March 31, 2023
The remainder of the season was a different story. Tagovailoa failed to record any Top 12 fantasy weeks from that point on. His passing stats took a hit across the board, and Miami eventually ruled him of the final two games and wildcard round due to a head injury sustained earlier in the year. Even with the second-half regression, Tagovailoa still managed to finish the season as the QB12 in fantasy points per game.
What Are the Concerns?
Despite the inconsistent season, Tagovailoa was able to address his doubters’ biggest concern: arm strength. You saw the camp videos leading up to the season where he was ridiculed for under-throwing passes. Once the games started to matter, Tagovailoa dominated as a deep passer. His 9.5 intended air yards per attempt was the second-highest mark among all QBs on the season.
Player Profiler has his deep ball completion percentage (throws of 20+ yards) at 50%, which was the best in the league. Even if we see some regression from his high-efficiency stats, the big plays will continue to come with playmaker targets like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
The elephant in the room when it comes to Tagovailoa are the concussions. I have no medical degree or certifications, so I won’t speculate with my thoughts on the manner. Edwin Porras, on the other hand, has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and he has an interesting view:
Do not want to minimize the seriousness of concussions & long term impact. But the narrative on Tua seems functionally overblown
Tua’s risk *is* elevated
NFL players can continue to play after 2+ concussions
List of position players with 2+ concussions. Read till end
— Edwin Porras, DPT (@FBInjuryDoc) July 6, 2023
Feel free to make your own judgments based on that info, but there is a chance the retirement concerns are blown out of proportion. Even though Tagovailoa considered hanging it up following the season, his doctors assured him that his future is not in jeopardy by continuing to play.
We don’t want to take head injuries lightly, but do you know any NFL quarterbacks that have been forced to retire due to concussions? I don’t. Of course, it’s a possibility, but maybe we shouldn’t be so afraid of something that is so rare to occur (if ever).
Outlook for 2023
The offensive line has been a pain point for Miami over the past few seasons, and they are returning the same unit from 2022. They ranked as the 22nd best unit according to Pro Football Reference and currently sit at 20th going into 2023, so there is optimism for improvement. Right tackle Austin Jackson fought through an ankle injury for most of 2022 that he’s now fully recovered from.
Guard Liam Eichenberg has struggled since his 2021 debut, but keep in mind that he played tackle in college. His first two seasons have been spent learning a new position, and McDaniel hopes to see development from the third-year player.
The Dolphins added to their backfield in the NFL draft, taking De’Von Achane in the third round. The 21-year-old rookie out of Texas A&M is one of the fastest prospects coming out this year. Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert were sufficient as rushers last season, but they offer very little as receivers.
Achane is looking to become a complementary weapon for this offense behind Waddle and Hill, which is something McDaniel has yet to find. The addition of another speed demon like Achane to an already blazing-fast offense could unlock a new level of Tagovailoa that we have yet to see.
Your position on Tagovailoa comes down to which half of 2022 you want to believe in most. He’s more than proven that he is starting quarterback material. His current underdog ADP sits at QB11, near names like Dak Prescott, Geno Smith, and Kirk Cousins. While I believe the floor is safer with those other options, Tagovailoa is the upside pick in that range. His second season under McDaniel will be in 2023.
If the Dolphins can build off of what they did in the first half of 2022, the 25-year-old quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, will be pushing to become a Top 5 fantasy option.
Tua Tagovailoa is the youngest player to lead the NFL in Passer Rating since 1984 when Dan Marino did it!!
This season gonna be a movie!! 💥💥💥 pic.twitter.com/1QOxNf2nNj
— I Ain't Him (@Phincane) July 6, 2023
Thank you for reading my Miami Dolphins team preview article spotlighting Tua Tagovailoa in fantasy football.
A Look Inside the Miami Dolphins
Editor’s Note: We don’t want to leave you hanging on the rest of the team. While Drew’s article focused on Tua Tagovailoa in fantasy football, here is a quick look at the other fantasy-relevant Dolphins by Josh Hudson.
In reality, Mostert is a 31-year-old running back. And last year, at the age of 30, he had the best statistical season of his career. Lightning doesn’t strike twice for nomadic RBs like Mostert. Shift your focus elsewhere.
Here at Club Fantasy, it’s always JEFF WILSON SZN, baby! Wilson has always been a steady, if unspectacular, contributor in various versions of this offense. If the team doesn’t sign someone like Dalvin Cook before the season gets underway, I’d bet Wilson leads the Dolphins in carries and production.
Achane is blazing fast and a skilled kick returner. Summed up, he’s a younger Raheem Mostert with pass-catching chops. Achane may be the smallest of the three RBs of note in Miami, but he’s the most talented. The sky is the limit for the rookie in an offense that will play fast.
Not much to say about Hill, who is well worth his 1st round ADP as a player who could easily finish as the overall WR1.
Arguably the best WR2 in the league, Waddle could be even better in 2023. Remember when 3rd-year breakouts were a thing for WRs? Waddle is entering Year 3 in 2023, and if Tagovailoa remains healthy all season, 150+ targets for both Hill and Waddle isn’t that farfetched. Waddle has a top 5 ceiling (yes, even while playing in the shadow of Tyreek Hill), and he should be on all of your fantasy teams.
We will be covering every team this offseason. So check back here often for all of our A Look Inside articles.