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USATSI

In the most surprising trade or transaction of an already wild 2022 NFL offseason,  Tyreek Hill was traded from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday. There had been no hint that Hill would be moving teams, but within hours it went from strong possibility to a done deal. It came to fruition after the Chiefs granted Hill and his agent the ability to seek a trade after the sides couldn't make ground on a contract extension. The Chiefs received five draft picks, including a 2022 first-round pick. The Dolphins and Hill have since agreed to terms on a four-year, $120 million contract that includes $72.2 million guaranteed. But most importantly, at least for the sake of those reading this, is the impact this trade will have on the Fantasy Football outlooks of a slew of players on both the Chiefs and Dolphins.

Hill is coming off a career year with the Chiefs from a receptions standpoint -- he racked up a career-high 111 catches in 2021 just one year after totaling a career-high 15 touchdowns. His addition in Miami is most concerning for second-year trendy breakout pick Jaylen Waddle. Earlier this offseason, a soundbite surfaced from new Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel that all but guaranteed a breakout season for Waddle and it was easy to connect the dots -- McDaniel came from San Francisco and would be installing a similar offensive system -- so why couldn't Waddle be the Deebo Samuel of the AFC East? But a big part of what made Samuel such a Fantasy Football dynamo was his high usage rate -- as both a runner and receiver around the line of scrimmage. The 49ers didn't have anyone else they trusted in that role, but now the Dolphins have two receivers capable of operating within this role and Hill will have the upper hand based both on his skill set and the contract extension he just signed.

The next question is how much of a negative impact will the trade have on Hill after he moves away from Patrick Mahomes and inherits Tua Tagovailoa as his new starting quarterback. The area where this is most concerning is in the deep passing game. Mahomes has a clear-cut edge as a deep passer over Tagovailoa, but ultimately I don't think the Travis Kelce factor should be discounted entirely either. With Kelce on the field, defenses were forced to account for the middle of the field with their safeties -- often opening up deep passing zones for Mahomes to find Hill. Mike Gesicki does not garner that kind of attention from defenses and more eyes will be on Hill now despite having Waddle alongside him. 

As for Tagovailoa, the Hill addition is obviously a great one for his Fantasy outlook. The Dolphins have done a lot to provide him with every opportunity to succeed this offseason including two key offensive line signings -- Terron Armstead and Connor Williams. Given the lack of rushing upside Tagovailoa has displayed at the NFL level, I'm skeptical of upgrading him to a borderline QB1 -- something you might start to see pick up steam as the offseason rolls on. But he's a fine wager as a breakout QB in 2022 given the additions of Hill, McDaniel, Waddle's progression and the offensive line upgrade.

In addition to that, the Chiefs utilize a vertically-oriented offense under coach Andy Reid, and Hill will now be moving to a more run-focused, horizontal attack. He has the skill set to thrive in this area, but it won't exactly help him in the deep passing game.

You can quell some of your concern with Hill when it comes to his quarterback play -- as Dave Richard researched earlier this offseason -- Waddle was a much stronger Fantasy Football asset with Tagovailoa on the field. From his 2022 early Dolphins Fantasy prep piece:

As a rookie, Waddle ranked 15th with 14.9 PPR points per game. But the splits based on who his quarterback was mattered quite a bit. 

  • Waddle with Tagovailoa (10 games): 17.7 PPR points per game
  • Waddle without Tagovailoa (five games): 10.4 PPR points per game
  • Waddle in Week 10 with Tagovailoa missing about half the game: 10 PPR points

The bigger question mark is how this will impact Mahomes, Kelce and the rest of the Chiefs supporting cast. While the early assumption is that this will provide a boost for Kelce from a pure volume standpoint, don't be surprised if the efficiency numbers fall off quite a bit. Mecole Hardman does not garner anywhere near the respect from safeties that Hill did, and although the Chiefs are toying with the idea of signing Marquez Valdes-Scantling (he's in for a free agent visit), the same can be said about him. If the safeties start to align differently now that Hill is no longer on the field, that could make the middle of the field a lot less free for Kelce to operate in.

The entire Chiefs offense could evolve and look different in 2022 without Hill on the field -- that's how much his speed factors into the equation from a schematic standpoint. Free agent acquisition JuJu Smith-Schuster could be in line for a major bounceback season if the Chiefs opt to fall back on more of Reid's West Coast offense roots -- stressing the possession passing game. Hardman and even Josh Gordon now also have opportunities to work their way into the target mix -- the loss of Hill opens up a lot of targets for 2022.