MIAMI GARDENS, FLA -- If there's one discernible trait the Dolphins have that Fantasy Football enthusiasts would love, it's speed. They have it all over the place on offense, which you knew. There isn't anyone more prolific in terms of that than Tyreek Hill.
Jaylen Waddle is fast too, but no one's seen it lately.
On the opening day of Miami's joint practice with the Eagles, Waddle stretched with the team but didn't take part in any other drills. He wore a sleeve down his right leg, complete with a tape job on his right ankle. He walked with a slight limp and was on the sideline and then in the facility once the Dolphins started doing individual drills.
Multiple beat reporters who see the Dolphins every day told CBSSports.com that Waddle's been sidelined since the team's joint practices with the Buccaneers.
Coach Mike McDaniel continued to be cautious with Waddle and didn't want him to try and show off against the Eagles and his best friend, DeVonta Smith.
"If we were practicing against ourselves, would he have practiced? There might be a stronger chance. Maybe," McDaniel said Thursday. "I saw him on the field from my office after practice catching JUGS with his buddy that I knew he'd probably try to perform in front of. It wasn't because of any setbacks, we're just making sure we took it step by step. The rest has been awesome for him and I'm really fired up and expect to see him on the field here sooner than later."
It should be assumed Waddle will ramp up in the coming week and eventually be back at practice in time for Week 1. That premise would make his Round 4 ADP acceptable, but Fantasy managers should hope others cool off on Waddle and pass him by. If the absence sends his Draft Average into Round 5 before Labor Day, take advantage.
While Waddle heals, Hill thrills. Against the Eagles, he was uncoverable, constantly shaking loose from coverage when he cut and speeding past defenders on downfield routes. In one-on-one drills, Hill beat top cornerback Darius Slay off the snap to get open deep while Slay limped off.
Was Slay faking it as to make up an excuse for getting beat? Who knows, but Slay was back out there moments later getting beat by Hill again on an intermediate dig route.
The unofficial tally from 11-on-11 drills was that Hill caught all three of his targets from Tua Tagovailoa for 65 yards with each pass good for at least 20 yards. He also had a six-yard run on a neatly-crafted end-around.
The numbers are nice, his speed is unbeatable and his separation in his route running continues to marvel, but it all doesn't do any good if Tagovailoa isn't accurate and not finding him repeatedly. On this day in practice, Tagovailoa was both of these things, and it provided evidence for optimism.
No one would be shocked if Hill led the Dolphins in targets, but you might be shocked if he matched the 159 he had in 2021. That's in play -- Tagovailoa's reliance on Hill and the Dolphins' lack of a dedicated run game (many observers believe they'll be a pass-to-run offense) should put the ball in the air a lot and often aimed at Hill. With that amount of work, Hill could flirt with breaking his career-highs in catches (111, set last year) and yards (1,479, set in 2018), all with a bushel of touchdowns (he averaged nearly 11 per season since 2018; would eight be a surprise?).
I'm good with spending the Round 2 capital on Hill. I'm confidently taking him ahead of CeeDee Lamb and Deebo Samuel -- not just because Hill's really fast, but because Tagovailoa seems to be in a position to feed him.
And if the Dolphins have two receivers going within the top-50 or top-60 picks depending on Waddle's leg, then Tagovailoa should either re-enter the discussion as a late-round sleeper or be an early-season waiver gem after he gets through the Patriots, Ravens and Bills to start.