Tua Tagovailoa Can Be a Special Player for the Miami Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa has been the story of the draft process, and we finally know where he's going.
Tagovailoa was taken by the Miami Dolphins with the fifth overall pick on Thursday night.
What does that mean for Tagovailoa's fantasy football outlook in 2020?
Pristine College Production
Prior to suffering a hip injury last year, Tagovailoa had very few blemishes as a prospect. Statistically, he's a deity.
Each year our Jim Sannes does a numbers-based study on the incoming quarterbacks, and Tagovailoa ranked at the top of this year's class based on his full college career -- yes, ahead of Joe Burrow, mostly due to Burrow posting only one elite season.
In his first year as a full-time starter back in 2018, Tagovailoa recoded 12.8 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A), which ranked second in the country that year, behind only Kyler Murray. Then this past season, in 2019, Tagovailoa took his game to another level with a clip of 13.4 AY/A across 252 pass attempts (nine games). That mark would've been the best AY/A in NCAA history had Tagovailoa qualified. For his career, Tagovailoa finished with an AY/A of 12.7. Not only is that tops all-time in the NCAA, it's first by 1.6 adjusted yards.
Over 24 starts the last two years, Tagovailoa slung 76 touchdowns to just nine picks.
Tua is a freakin' baller.
While the southpaw certainly benefited from the top-tier talent around him, Tagovailoa also delivered the goods when he faced stiff competition, something that happened often in 2019, as 60.71% of Tagovailoa's pass attempts came against defenses that ranked in the top 50 by Bill Connelly's SP+, per Sannes. Against those defenses, Tagovailoa's AY/A was 12.1.
Again, the dude checks every box statistically.
Of course, the big red flag with Tua is his injury history, including the season-ending hip injury he suffered in 2019. And there's another layer to all of this because he hasn't been able to do in-person physicals for individual teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. None of that is ideal, obviously, but most recent reports about Tagovailoa's health have been positive.
Tagovailoa has a chance to become a special player at the NFL level if he can stay healthy. If not for the injury history, Tua would've had a very strong argument to go first overall, even with Burrow's ridiculous 2019 campaign.
Fantasy Fit With Miami
Miami went into last season in tank mode, but they ended up being pretty competitive by the end of the campaign, winning five games. With a few big-money signings on defense, this offseason has signaled the end of the fish tank, and the pick of Tua is the exclamation point on that statement.
The Dolphins are in win-now mode, but depending on what Miami does the rest of this draft, this probably isn't a great landing spot for Tagovailoa's fantasy outlook.
Miami struggled mightily up front in 2019, ranking 26th in pass protection, per Football Outsiders. The 'Fins are likely to address the offensive line over the remainder of this draft, but unless Miami's front five makes drastic improvements, they're probably not going to be really stout up front. That could be a big issue given Tua's injury history.
Investing in hog mollies over the rest of the draft would be wise for the Dolphins, but picks spent on O-Line are picks not spent on upgrading Miami's skill-position talent, which could use a lift. While DeVante Parker broke out in 2019 and Preston Williams was making noise before getting hurt, the Dolphins have a need for pass-game weapons. As things stand now, a supporting cast of Parker, Williams, Mike Gesicki and Jordan Howard is pretty blah.
And there's also Ryan Fitzpatrick to worry about. Fitzmagic had some success with the Dolphins in 2019, so Tagovailoa probably won't be handed the starting gig right away, though Tagovailoa will undoubtedly log meaningful snaps at some point.
All in all, Tua probably won't be too big of a factor in one-quarterback redraft leagues outside of streaming. In superflex formats, he's immediately on the radar as a QB2, assuming he's healthy and ready to roll for 2020, and Tua is certainly worth a high pick -- maybe as high as the 1.02 -- in dynasty superflex rookie drafts.
Our Editor-In-Chief, JJ Zachariason, projects Tua for 312.5 pass attempts, 2,203 passing yards, 11.81 passing touchdowns, 4.87 interceptions, 124.99 rush yards, and 0.82 rushing touchdowns.