There are some players who actually become better fantasy football producers when they are joined by a guy with greater talent. Cris Carter was an established star in Minnesota before Randy Moss arrived and had his most productive seasons playing second fiddle. The Miami Dolphins may have a similar situation with wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who is coming off a record-setting rookie season but went from No. 1 to No. 2 on the Dolphins’ wide receiver depth chart.
The Dolphins will operate under a new regime with first-time head coach Mike McDaniel, who spent just one season as an offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers. McDaniel is viewed as an innovator in how he reshaped San Francisco’s offense by making Deebo Samuel a wide receiver-running back hybrid.
Miami made a huge splash in the offseason, making a blockbuster, future-impacting trade with Kansas City to acquire explosive Tyreek Hill. Waddle is fast, but Hill’s field speed is unmatched. In most situations, the arrival of somebody like Hill would be reason for sulking if you were the previous go-to guy. But in this situation, just the opposite is true.
Waddle put his name in the NFL record books by catching 104 passes (breaking Anquan Boldin’s rookie record of 102) for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns. He did so with a pedestrian quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa) and no other viable wide receiver options – DeVante Parker was second among wideouts with 40 receptions for 515 yards and two TDs. He was the entire show as Tua leaned on him heavily. Now, you have the trifecta of Hill, Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki – as formidable a receiving trio as just about any team can boast.
Hill is the one with the spotlight on him. With that comes a shift in how defenses have to approach Miami’s offense. Defenses routinely rolled safeties over the top on Waddle, which is why, despite a record-setting season for receptions, he averaged less than 10 yards per reception and had just one 100-yard game. When Tagovailoa had to get rid of the ball, Waddle was his safety blanket. The arrival of Hill doesn’t change Waddle’s role. It just changes who is covering him.
Hill is a lethal deep threat and playing single press coverage is done at the peril of a defense. Hill commands safety help and, more times than not, coverage from an opponent’s top cornerback. That’s what Waddle was facing last year. He will see a lot more single coverage and going up against a team’s No. 2 corner in 2022.
Tagovailoa has a shorthand familiarity with Waddle and Gesicki. Hill is a home run hitter who brings a different dynamic and may open more big-play chances for his supporting players, but those plays take time to develop.
Fantasy football outlook
Waddle’s draft stock has taken a hit because Hill is a clear cut WR1. Even with a middle-of-the-road quarterback, Waddle should be a reception machine, giving him lower-end WR2 status in PPR formats. If you can get him as a WR3, that’s a gift. While Waddle may not catch 100 passes again, his receptions should be more impactful and game-breaking.