Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

 Log In  | Sign Up  |  Contact      

2023 Player Outlooks: Miami Dolphins

By Nick Caron | 7/13/23 |

QB Tua Tagovailoa
(2022 QB Rank – No. 15, 21.9 FPts/G)

Tua Tagovailoa finished a little bit outside of the top-12 at the quarterback position in 2022, but the fact that he even came close to that number is pretty impressive. In a season marred by multiple ugly concussions, Tagovailoa finished eighth in fantasy points per game among QBs who played in at least 10 games. The former Alabama QB looked good in his third professional season, completing nearly 65 percent of his throws, including a league-leading 8.9 yards per attempt. That high efficiency also helped two of his wide receivers (Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle) finish inside the top seven scorers at the position at season’s end.

Now heading into his fourth professional season, Tua will again be surrounded by those superstar wide receivers and while the Dolphins didn’t do much to add to the offense, they really didn’t lose much either. Tight end Mike Gesicki was the only notable player who left during the offseason and even he quietly played fewer than 50 percent of Miami’s offensive snaps in 2022.

Another year in the Mike McDaniel system should help the offense become more efficient, but what’s most important for Tagovailoa’s fantasy outlook is his health. We’ve now seen him suffer a brutal hip injury just before coming to the NFL, along with broken ribs and multiple scary concussions since turning pro. It’s too simplistic to say that a player is “injury prone,” especially when the damages are largely unrelated, but Tua has certainly had more than his fair share of setbacks.

His lack of rushing floor means that Tua will need an exceptional touchdown rate to ever provide true difference-making fantasy production, but he’s currently being drafted as a borderline QB1, which seems like it’s closer to his floor than his ceiling, provided that he’s able to stay healthy.

Raheem Mostert

RB Raheem Mostert
(2022 RB Rank – No. 29, 8.9 FPts/G)

The Dolphins backfield was an absolute trash pile heading into the 2022 season and we really didn’t get much clarity throughout the year. The situation hasn’t changed much as the team is currently looking like it’ll roll into the 2023 season with two former 49ers backs, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, competing for the top spot yet again.

Mostert is the player who conservative fantasy managers seem to have the most confidence in, but this situation is far from decided. He and Wilson finished with almost the exact same number of carries, very similar reception totals, and were within 30 snaps played of one another for the season in 2022. Neither player is a reliable fantasy asset, but Mostert’s status as the perceived No. 1 back on the depth chart to start the season has meant that he’s being selected significantly higher than Wilson, and sometimes even higher than rookie Devon Achane.

One thing to remember during early drafts is that the Dolphins have remained one of, if not the odds-on favorite to sign free agent veteran running back Dalvin Cook. Cook would provide a completely different skillset from the other backs in this offense and would almost certainly command the lead back role, so drafting any of the current Dolphins running backs comes with some serious risk. However, if you look closely at the types of backs who have been brought in by the current Dolphins staff, Cook doesn’t fit the mold all that well. Sure, he’s still got some juice, but he never had the 4.3 speed that the coaching staff tends to favor. Certainly, they could decide that it’s worth it to shift their offense around a bit to bring in a proven star back like Cook, but they’ve also shown that they can have a successful overall offense even without a highly productive rushing attack, in no small part due to opposing defenses having to account for such impressive speed coming out of the backfield.

There are so many reasons to avoid Mostert in fantasy this season, but the truth is that there will probably be at least a few weeks where he emerges as an RB1 for fantasy. Unfortunately, those weeks will be incredibly difficult to predict, as they have been throughout his career in the NFL.

RB Jeff Wilson
(2022 RB Rank – No.25, 8.8 FPts/G)

Currently going undrafted in many leagues, it’s weird to look back to the second half of the 2022 season and realize that Jeff Wilson actually led the Dolphins in carries after Week 8. This is despite the fact that he “started” just one game over that stretch. The numbers between he and Raheem Mostert were extremely close, with Mostert averaging 10 carries per game after Week 8 and Wilson averaging 10.4 carries per game over that same stretch. However, the discrepancy would’ve been even higher if Wilson had not been removed early in multiple games due to various injuries.

Mostert technically “started” all but two games he played in during the 2022 season, but that seemed more ceremonial than anything as it didn’t result in him being a much better fantasy player than Wilson. Still, the 31-year-old Mostert is being projected by most experts to be the better fantasy asset in this committee to start the season, compared to the 27-year-old Wilson.

What’s most likely to happen is probably another ugly committee with both players seeing between eight to 13 touches per week, as long as they’re healthy, and neither one really claiming a strong enough role to be reliable for fantasy purposes. Add in the fact that the team brought in another speedy young back in rookie Devon Achane and there is just a lot to be worried about.

Still, considering that he’s currently the lowest-drafted back in this offense, Wilson might actually provide the best pure value if things go similarly to 2022. He’s a Mostert injury away from potentially seeing 15 or more touches per week in one of the league’s most high-powered offenses and that’s intriguing for a player you can select late in fantasy drafts.

RB Devon Achane
(2022 RB Rank – N/A)

While veterans Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are likely to enter the season as the biggest parts of this Miami backfield committee, it’s third-round NFL Draft pick Devon Achane who is really the most intriguing player from a fantasy standpoint.

Undersized at only 5’9” and under 190 lbs, Achane was an impressive all-purpose back in college. He rushed for over 1,100 yards with 11 touchdowns and caught 36 passes in his final collegiate season at Texas A&M. He then blazed in the testing process leading up to the draft, checking in with a 4.32-second forty-yard dash time. This running back archetype is exactly what the Dolphins have been acquiring clones of over the past two offseasons and there’s an outside chance that the team will opt to move on from either Mostert or Wilson if they see enough from Achane during camp.

Achane will likely will start the season on the bench, but could be the player who possesses the most upside in the entire backfield. We’ve seen enough from Mostert and Wilson to know that both players are likely to cannibalize one another’s touches while also being high injury risks. The Dolphins didn’t really “feature” Mostert or Wilson in 2022, so they’re obviously not sold on either of them being a true bell cow, which means that the opportunity is there for someone like Achane to impress and potentially become that guy.

We also know that head coach Mike McDaniel likes to rotate his backfield and keep players fresh, so there’s a real possibility that Achane sees some playing time very early and he might be the team’s best pass-catching weapon out of the backfield right away. Achane is the back with the lowest floor of this trio, but he’s also the player who has the highest ceiling. If you’re taking him as your RB4 or RB5, then you’re likely solid enough at the position that you don’t need him to be a starter right away. In that case, he’s a great lottery ticket-type back who could hit big for you, but could also just fizzle out without costing you much of anything on draft day.

WR Tyreek Hill
(2022 WR Rank – No.3, 13.1 FPts/G)

There’s been a longstanding history of superstar wide receivers struggling when they join a new team, but one player who absolutely did not fall into that trap was the Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill. Hill left the friendly Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs offense and it made all the sense in the world that he would have some struggles when playing with a quarterback like Tua Tagovailoa who hadn’t shown himself to be much of a deep passer. Hill proved those concerns to be overblown as he set career highs in receptions (119) and targets (170) while shattering his own previous career best with a whopping 1,710 receiving yards. Hill finished as the WR3 on the season, exceeding even the loftiest goals that fantasy managers had hoped for him heading into the year.

Now with an entire season in the McDaniel offense under his belt and a connection locked in with Tua, Hill can focus on the stated goal he set for himself: to become the NFL’s first 2,000-yard receiver in a single season. That seems almost silly on the surface, but with defenses seemingly unable to gameplan and account for his explosiveness, it’s really not out of the question. Keep in mind that Tyreek was without Tua for a good portion of the season and while Hill still performed well for the most part, it’s hard to believe that his fantasy production wouldn’t have been even greater if he had his starting QB for the entire season.

Hill is currently being selected near the middle-to-end of the first round in most drafts, which means that the market also believes that the 29-year-old receiver has at least one more elite-level season in him. Fantasy managers would be wise to make him a target at this range in their drafts.

WR Jaylen Waddle
(2022 WR Rank – No.7, 11.0 FPts/G)

He might not have quite the speed of his teammate Tyreek Hill, but Jaylen Waddle is still absurdly quick and is really proving himself to be one of the league’s most dynamic weapons as he heads into his third professional season. Waddle improved on his breakout rookie season in just about every conceivable way this past season, but the way he was utilized in the McDaniel offense was night and day from what we saw from him as a rookie under the previous regime.

The Dolphins used more pre-snap motion than any team in the league and that helped fuel Waddle to one of the most ridiculous yards-per-reception improvements in recent memory. Many were comparing Waddle’s 2021 rookie season in which he caught 104 passes for 1,015 yards to that of players like Jarvis Landry, who are primarily underneath possession receivers who don’t offer much explosiveness. That completely shifted when McDaniel came to town, as he started scheming Waddle in a totally different way, allowing him to utilize his speed and shiftiness to get open down the field. This meant fewer total receptions as he caught just 75 balls, but the receptions he did make were enormously more valuable as he went for an impressive 1,356 yards. That’s an improvement of over 350 yards despite catching 29 fewer passes. This meant that Waddle’s yards per reception total nearly doubled from 9.8 as a rookie in 2021 to a league-leading 18.1 in 2022.

Certainly, some of this improved efficiency was due to factors other than Waddle himself getting better, but so what? Even if Mike McDaniel and Tyreek Hill are to thank for much of it, they’re still going to be here in Miami this season, so there’s really no reason to think that things will change substantially for Waddle in 2023. Of course, an 18.1 yards per reception number is unlikely to continue no matter the situation given that it’s such a high number, but even a bit of a regression in YPR could be completely negated by Waddle simply seeing a bit more volume.

Waddle finished as the WR7 in 2022 and with the Dolphins failing to bring in any notable competition for him in the offense, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic that he can again finish as a WR1 for fantasy this season. It’s tough to project that two wide receivers in the same offense can do that in back-to-back seasons, but this duo, in this offense, seems like the strongest bet to do it that we’ve seen in recent history.

TE Durham Smythe
(2022 TE Rank – No.54, 2.1 FPts/G)

The tight end position in Miami opened up this offseason when former 700-yard receiver Mike Gesicki left for New England. This means that the current projected starter is veteran Durham Smythe, whose career high of 357 yards in a season came back in 2021.

While it’s significant that Gesicki is gone, many fantasy analysts might be overrating the impact it’ll have on Smythe. The tight end quietly already out-snapped Gesicki in 2022. More importantly, however, the Dolphins as a team tied for the league’s fewest total targets to the tight end position in 2022. Their offense is dynamic, making use of some innovative concepts, and part of that seems to be leaning much more heavily on their wide receivers to catch passes than it does their tight ends or running backs.

All of this should lead fantasy managers to avoid this situation in anything other than deep leagues where two TEs must be started per week. Smythe, or any other Dolphins tight end, is unlikely to see more than 50 targets this season and that’s just not enough to justify a roster spot in normal fantasy leagues.

Draft Buddy - Fantasy Football excel draft spreadsheet