Tua Tagovailoa didn't quite prove he's the future of the franchise as a rookie, but the Dolphins are still going to give him every chance in 2021. And Fantasy players should, too, as they've put plenty of talent around him with the additions of Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. If Tua is going to be a star, we should find out pretty quickly.
Record: 10 - 6 (12)
PPG: 25.3 (15)
YPG: 339.0 (22)
Pass YPG: 233.5 (20)
Rush YPG: 105.5 (22)
PAPG: 34.9 (18)
RAPG: 26.8 (16)
2020 Fantasy finishes
Number to know: 61%
Myles Gaskin played 10 games in 2020, and he topped 61% of the team's snaps in each one. That's impressive enough on its own, but the fact that Salvon Ahmed started three games with Gaskin out and played at least 61% of the snaps in each of those as well is what you really want to see. When the Dolphins had their top RB healthy, there was little confusion about how they wanted to use their running backs: Their No. 1 guy was going to get a ton of work. Gaskin averaged 14.2 carries and 4.7 targets per game, and Ahmed averaged 22 touches per game in those three games as the No. 1. If Gaskin managed his per-game pace over a full 17-game season, that would come out to 241 carries and 80 targets. But he sure isn't being drafted as if that's likely to happen, as Gaskin is just RB25 since the NFL draft in NFC ADP, after the likes of Travis Etienne, Kareem Hunt, and James Robinson who we know will be splitting carries. It made sense to be skeptical of Gaskin when it looked like the Dolphins might use one of their early-round picks to take a running back, Malcolm Brown was the only addition to the RB room. Gaskin was RB11 in PPR scoring per game -- RB9 if you only include players who played at least six games -- and he has that kind of upside again.
115 carries, 22 RB targets, 72 WR targets, 0 TE targets
Chris Towers' projections
PA: 574, YD: 4131, TD: 29, INT: 13; RUSH -- ATT: 54, YD: 217, TD: 2
CAR: 271, YD: 1166, TD: 6; TAR: 57, REC: 46, YD: 367, TD: 2
CAR: 90, YD: 361, TD: 4; TAR: 29, REC: 19, YD: 131, TD: 1
TAR: 108, REC: 64, YD: 828, TD: 6
TAR: 113, REC: 74, YD: 995, TD: 7
TAR: 81, REC: 45, YD: 624, TD: 5
TAR: 86, REC: 52, YD: 645, TD: 4
Do they trust Myles Gaskin to be the lead back?
When he was healthy in 2020, the Dolphins sure trusted Gaskin to be the No. 1 guy -- he played at least 61% of the snaps in each of his 10 games. He was a true three-down back, and if they trust him to be that again in 2021, he could end up a No. 1 Fantasy RB, especially if this offense takes the step forward many expect. He'll be one of my favorite values among the No. 2 RBs this season after the Dolphins essentially punted on the position in the draft.
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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust
Fuller finally did what we've been hoping he would do for a long time: Stay healthy and prove he's a star. Fuller put up a career-high 879 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020 despite playing just 11 games. Ah, but that's the problem, right? He doesn't play a full schedule! In this case, though, Fuller's season came to an end due to a performance enhancing drug suspension, which stretches into Week 1 of the 2021 season. Maybe you're wary of Fuller because his chances to play a full season seem slim. Fair enough. But on a rising Miami offense, he could be a top 12 wide receiver yet again this season, but he's going off the board as WR38 in NFC drafts, with an ADP of 94.9. The thing about that price is, the downside is already baked in, and his chances of beating the price are pretty high. Fuller is a great player. Let others be scared off; I'll draft him as my No. 3 WR.
Tagovailoa was a bit underwhelming as a rookie. It's fair to say that. The Dolphins probably wouldn't disagree if you talked to them off the record. Justin Herbert, who was taken after Tagovailoa, put together one of the best rookie seasons of all time, while Tagovailoa was being benched in key moments for Ryan Fitzpatrick. It wasn't ideal. But it's worth putting Tagovailoa's season into perspective, because there might be a bit too much negativity around him. Among 16 rookie quarterbacks who had at least 250 pass attempts over the past five seasons, Tagovailoa ranked ninth in touchdown rate, fifth in interception rate, ninth in passer rating, and 12th in yards per attempt. That last bit isn't so good, and Tagovailoa wasn't great, even by rookie QB standards. But it's not like he was Mitchell Trubisky (2.1% TD rate), Carson Wentz (2.6% TD rate) or even Josh Allen (10 TD, 12 INT, 52.8% completion). And he was coming back from a serious hip injury that ended his final season in college early and throwing to a receiving corps made up of a hobbled Parker and Gesicki. In Week 15 against the Patriots, Tagovailoa's top targets were Lynn Bowden, Durham Smythe, Mack Hollins and Isaiah Ford. The Dolphins weren't quite the Bengals in terms of pass volume, but they did rank 11th in pass rate in situations where the score was within seven points either way, so this wasn't some conservative offense. Tagovailoa has to play better, but he's got some pretty great new toys and I'm betting on him taking a big step forward in Year 2. I thought he was the best QB prospect of his class before the injury, and I think he'll start to show that this season. I love him as a No. 2 QB in the middle rounds of a two-QB draft, and if I'm waiting at QB, I don't mind snagging him as a high-upside backup plan.
Cards on the table, Waddle might be the NFL player I'm most worried I'm going to be wrong about. I have him ranked significantly lower than consensus, and that doesn't feel great. Waddle is a terrific talent and should be a very good NFL player, but Miami's passing game is actually pretty crowded with Fuller, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. That's a solid core, and while Waddle could be the best of them all, a healthy Fuller and Parker have both shown they can be No. 1 wide receivers in their own right. I could see a scenario where Waddle is used somewhat similarly to how Henry Ruggs was used as a rookie in Las Vegas last season, where he doesn't emerge as the top target overnight. I'll take the over on Ruggs' 43 targets for Waddle, but I think he's probably competing for third on the team in target share and ends up putting up big numbers from time to time, but in a way that isn't conducive to reliable Fantasy production. But I'll grant the premise that I could be entirely mistaken; that Waddle could hit the ground running as Miami's No. 1 WR playing alongside his former college QB, making plays in the short and deep areas and generally wreaking havoc on defenses. It's not the most likely outcome, but given where I have Waddle ranked, the prospect of it could make me look really, really bad.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.