The Dolphins used their 1.6 pick in the draft to reunite Jaylen Waddle and Tua Tagovailoa, who were teammates at Alabama. Their season together in 2019 resulted in Waddle catching 33 passes for 560 yards and six touchdowns (16.6-yard average). Waddle supplied the speedy downfield threat that year, while the talent-rich Crimson Tide also used Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith.
With Jeudy gone last year, Waddle dominated by starting his season with four straight games of over 120 yards and a total of four scores but severely dislocated his ankle and was lost for the season. He underwent surgery and the Dolphins want to be careful with him to avoid any setbacks. Waddle is only 5-10 and 182 pounds but runs a sub-4.4 40-time and flashed enough speed and talent to become the second wideout selected last April – in front of his Heisman-winning teammate DeVonta Smith.
He is currently showing up in Average Draft Position rankings around No. 46 for wideouts, typically in the tenth to twelfth rounds of fantasy drafts. By comparison, Ja’Marr Chase is the No. 24 and DeVonta Smith is No. 30 though all three were all Top-10 draft picks. Chase reunites with Joe Burrow in Cincinnati but also plays with Tee Higgins. Smith reunites with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia but the second-year quarterback has been a better rusher than passer so far. Waddle squeezes in with DeVante Parker and Will Fuller.
His ankle recovery will be at least a mild concern as a rookie until he can prove he’s regained his speed and looks healthy. He had a scare on one of the first days of training camp which doesn’t help but was fine. There is also concern with Tua Tagovailoa, who has yet to live up to his 1.05 draft pick last year.
Taken as the 46th wideout in fantasy drafts is a steal. That’s already in the area of positional backups. And while the Fins also have Parker and the newly signed Fuller, the reality is that Parker has spent six mostly mediocre seasons in Miami, aside from the freakish end to 2019. He returned to a more typical No. 40 fantasy wideout last year.
Fuller hasn’t lasted long enough in any season to be any real factor. Over five years in Houston, he missed 27 of 80 games, played injured in many more, and averaged just under ten starts per season over the last four years. He, of course, left his first day of training camp with an undisclosed injury.
Waddle has been compared to Tyreek Hill in his blazing speed and sheer athleticism. His talent level compares to many of the current elite NFL wide receivers but he could take time. His ankle must hold up after the surgery. But the start of training camp, the Tagovailoa-Waddle connection already started.
The advantage of Waddle is that while both Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith are drafted as fantasy starters, Waddle comes off the board as a WR4 or even a WR5. He’s a player that should improve as the year progresses and step into your starting lineup if only later in the season. He comes cheaply enough that a fantasy team owner can wait to ensure he is a safe start and then reap the benefits from the highest drafted wideout in Miami Dolphins history.