Tight Ends

Trade! Tyreek Hill traded to the Dolphins

As a fantasy writer, it has been incredibly difficult to keep up with this NFL off-season. Every time you’re about to finish an article, the next trade happens. It just keeps getting better as the Kansas City Chiefs trade Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins for five draft picks in the latest blockbuster. The package includes picks 29 and 50 in this year’s draft. It is a trade that came completely out of left field, as the Chiefs and Hill were reportedly hammering out an extension. Hill has been an essential part of the Chiefs’ offense since joining them as a 5th round pick in the 2016 draft. In the past five seasons Tyreek Hill ranks fourth in the league in receiving yards (6,037), seventh in receptions (418), and second in touchdowns (50). He is the fastest, most electrifying player in the NFL, and his presence on the field will not be replaced easily. 

Chiefs

For the Chiefs, this is an unexpected surprise for an organization that seemed confident they were going to be able to lock up Hill long-term. As hard as it is to believe the trade does make sense for the Chiefs. When you have one of the highest-paid QBs in the league you’re going to have to make tough decisions. ESPN reported that the Chiefs were within $10 million of the Dolphins four year/$120 million contract offer. Hill chose the money and beach life though, and the Chiefs will lose one of the main three focal points of their offense. Travis Kelce will now lead a receiving room that includes Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, and Josh Gordon. The chiefs likely will add additional weapons in the draft or through free agency as well. However, none of these players are likely to fill Hill’s role on the team. Instead, the Chiefs will now look to deploy a more balanced receiving attack after Travis Kelce. An offense where a different player could be featured each week. 

Dolphins

The Dolphins on the other hand have created the fastest wide receiving tandem in the league. Teams are going to find it impossible to cover both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle downfield. With Devante Parker, Mike Geseki, and Chase Edmonds also I’m the fold, the Dolphins boast one of the best offenses in the league. It will be up to Tua Tagovailoa to orchestrate these pieces and get the ball in these playmakers’ hands. There are zero excuses now for Tua not to have an excellent 2022 season. He will have to play much better this year as decision-making, time management, and consistency have been an issue in the past. The Dolphins will now look to garner a playoff berth for the first time since the 2016 season. Although it will be a tall order considering the AFC is an absolute gauntlet this season. 

As big as this move is for these two NFL teams, this move also creates a seismic shift in the fantasy football landscape. Tyreek Hill has been one of the league’s biggest fantasy producers each of the last five seasons. This trade affects the value of every weapon on the Kansas City and Miami offense. Some players’ rankings changed for the better, and some for the worse.  In this article, I will examine how each player on these two teams’ dynasty value was affected by this trade. I will also take a look at their 2022 season outlook. 

Tyreek Hill

First, let’s dive into the man of the hour, the new $30 million man in Miami. Tyreek Hill has simply been one of the best fantasy players in the NFL since entering the league. He has four WR1 finishes in the last five years, the lone exception coming in a season he missed four games. There is no player in the NFL more dangerous with the ball in their hand. Every play he seems to make a move using his speed to gain extra yards. In each game, he usually finds himself wide open 40 yards downfield at least a couple of times. It has made the Chiefs one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL, and a big reason they won a Super Bowl. 

In Miami, Hill will look to play the same role for Tua as a dynamic playmaker, and the number one option in the offense. Hill has already been quick to praise his new quarterback, calling him one of the most accurate players in the NFL. Hill’s fantasy production is going to rely on how quickly he can develop chemistry with Tua. His quarterback’s overall progress will also be a key factor for the receiver. 

Looking ahead

That doesn’t necessarily mean Hill’s fantasy is going to significantly drop. It will be hard though to keep pace with his recent production. Tua is far from the caliber of quarterback Patrick Mahomes is. Mike McDaniel has been given credit for being a gifted play-caller, but Andy Reid is considered the best in the game. Mahomes, Reid, and Hill were able to build incredible chemistry over the last four seasons that will be nearly impossible to replicate. Hill also just turned 28 years old this March. Top-line wide receivers show a large historical drop-off after their age 29 seasons. This coupled with a spotty fantasy track record for receivers changing teams in their prime should give fantasy managers pause. Hill is still in my top 10 dynasty receivers, but there is reason to believe that a drop-off in production could occur in the near future.  I’d much prefer younger options such as Ceedee Lamb, AJ Brown, Deebo Samuel, or Waddle in start-up drafts. 

Tua Tagovailoa

I have a well-documented dislike for Tua in fantasy football. I’ve stated in many articles and tweets that people should sell Tua, as I didn’t expect him to be the franchise QB for the Dolphins. Tua’s sophomore season was up and down as a whole. At times, Tua showed he has the potential to be a highly accurate NFL quarterback. He was also able to display nice touch on the few deep balls he was allowed to throw. He showed just enough promise to warrant another opportunity to prove himself as the Dolphins’ long-term signal-caller.  

However, clock management and consistency were an issue throughout the season. He averaged a poor 6.8 yards per pass attempt in 2021, good for 23rd in the league. There were times late in the first and second half when the Dolphins needed Tua to step up and make a play, but he simply could not. Tua should have been initiating the hurry-up offense, but he didn’t have the awareness to do so. Nor did former head coach Brian Flores appear to want to tell Tua to go hurry up for fear of him making a mistake. Losing the confidence of his head coach and certain players is the biggest indictment against Tua going into the 2022 season. Brian Flores reportedly said he could not win with Tua as his quarterback. An unnamed teammate said he was “wasting his career” with him. These people see this man practice nearly every day. Going into his third season, his fellow teammates and coaches should have more confidence in him than that. 

Fantasy Perspective

For fantasy, I’m left with completely mixed emotions. I just stated all the reasons I disliked Tua going into this year, however, he’s adding one of the best receivers in the game. Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill can go for a touchdown anytime they touch the ball. Tua doesn’t attempt many deep passes, but with these two it doesn’t matter. You can dump it off to them and watch them create yards with their speed.

If I’m a Tua owner I feel like I’ve been given a huge blessing. I can’t help but feel Tua has the chance to be a high-end QB2 in fantasy this season. He’s been given every chance to succeed. A drawback is that he will likely have a short leash given the talent around him. The Dolphins could decide to turn to Bridgewater if Tua is unsuccessful to start the season. I’m approaching Tua with cautious optimism, ranking him around QB15 roughly. However, if any dynasty manager began valuing him as a QB1 I wouldn’t hesitate to sell for that price. 

Jaylen Waddle

Waddle has been a favorite of mine all off-season, so this trade hurts a lot of my fantasy teams. Jaylen Waddle was poised to build on a monster 104 catch, 1015 yard rookie campaign as the clear WR1 for the Dolphins. Instead, he will form one of the league’s fastest wide receiving tandems in what should be fun to watch offense. As a Jaylen Waddle fantasy owner, this trade throws cold water on all my excitement. He broke the record for most catches ever by a rookie receiver and came 21st all-time in receiving yards. I was already ranking him close to a top five dynasty fantasy wide receiver, as I expected his role to continue to grow.

Now that Hill is a part of the team, I expect this to hamper his fantasy production for the 2022 season. He saw 140 targets last year, and that number is unlikely to increase, with the potential for a slight drop. Tua is likely going to throw the ball more than he did in 2021. This will increase the target pie, but most of these figures go to Hill. It will be tough for Tua to get both Hill and Waddle above 130 targets with Mike Gesicki still playing a key role. I’m valuing Waddle closer to the dynasty WR7-9 range as opposed to WR5 like before. I still love Waddle’s talent, but it might be a couple more seasons before we see him truly take over the offense. A best-case scenario could be a Julio Jones/Calvin Ridley-type relationship for the pair. If anyone is panic selling Waddle for anything less than a top 3 rookie draft pick I’d still be buying though.

Mike Gesicki

The Dolphins have other exciting pieces after their star-wide receivers as well. Mike Gesicki has been a reliable target for Tua, and he has also filled a back-end TE1 role in fantasy lineups. He has finished as the TE9 and the TE7 in PPR leagues in the last two seasons. For me, Geseki falls into a range of tight ends that is often overdrafted. 700 yards and a handful of touchdowns isn’t going to win your fantasy league, however, he is a better option than your average weekly streaming option. My outlook for Geseki hasn’t changed much after this trade either. He will likely be a lower TE1 option, with boom and bust games throughout the year as before.

Patrick Mahomes

The Chiefs QB will now have to face his first season without Tyreek Hill leading the receiver room. Although Mahomes is still one of the best players in the NFL, this trade doesn’t help his fantasy production. A significant amount of Mahomes’ fantasy points has come from throwing deep downfield to Hill, or dumping it off to him and watching him run. This will now be a completely different offense that will distribute the ball more evenly. MVS and Hardman have homerun ability reminiscent of Hill, but they are nowhere near the caliber of player he is. Travis Kelce is amazing, but even he showed small signs of regression in his ninth NFL season. 

Potential Positivity?

All is not lost though, as Mahomes has played without Hill before and been just fine. In five career games without Tyreek Hill, Mahomes has a 103.1 passer rating with eight touchdowns and one interception (statmuse). Although it’s a small sample size, Mahomes was unphased and relied on players like Kelce and Watkins to lead the way. I believe Mahomes will ultimately be just fine, but we’ve seen some holes in the armor the last couple of seasons. 

After only coming short of 15 fantasy points twice in his first three years as an NFL starter, it occurred five times last season. Mahomes is no longer the clear-cut QB1, as he figures to have an adjustment period without Hill. For 2022 redraft leagues, I might fade Mahomes a bit closer to QB5. Quarterbacks like Allen, Murray, Jackson have safer floors due to their rushing ability at a similar price. In dynasty, I think it’s time to move Josh Allen up to the QB1. I’ll take Mahomes in real football, but Allen has elite rushing ability that no one can stop. His playoff game against the Chiefs was something to behold, and he has finished as the QB1 overall each of the last two seasons. Don’t panic on Mahomes, as he is still one of the best players in the NFL. It is time though to admit he is not the clear-cut most valuable quarterback in fantasy anymore. 

Travis Kelce

There is arguably no bigger beneficiary of the Tyreek Hill trade than Travis Kelce in terms of fantasy. Kelce has always played the 1A to Hills 1B in terms of the target pecking order. From 2016 to 2020, Kelce outpaced Hill in targets every year by a total of 687 to 625. This changed in 2021. Hill led the Chiefs in most receiving categories including targets, receptions, and yards. Kelce was still heavily involved, but the feeling was he was going to cede more work to Hill going forward. After all, he was 32 years of age, and in his ninth NFL season. 

That all changed with this trade. Kelce is likely to pace the team in targets and could be in for one of his best NFL seasons. Patrick Mahomes has never developed consistent chemistry with any other target other than Kelce or Hill. The two account for 50% of Mahomes passing yards, as well as 46% of his career completions. He will rely heavily on Kelce this season as his most trusted weapon. Despite his age, Kelce could be in for a career year in 2022 due to volume alone. He is my TE1 for the 2022 season, and this should stabilize his dynasty ranking which was slowly declining. Draft with confidence knowing he still has 2-3 years left of elite play. In rebuilds, I’d be looking for a top 15 wide receiver/running back or a mid-first-round pick in return. 

Juju Smith Schuster

When Juju signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, he was thought to be filling their need for a second wide receiver. Instead, Juju could be the top man in a wide-open receiving room. For reasons unknown to the outside world, Juju was forced to sign a one-year prove-it contract with less than $3 million guaranteed. This is far from the contract his new teammate Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed. Yet most of the fantasy community assumes Juju Smith-Schuster will outperform MVS this Fall. Something doesn’t quite add up, and this gives me pause on how to value Juju for this upcoming season. 

Receiving Yards Receptions PPR WR Finish
2021 129 15 WR133
2020 831 97 WR17
2019 552 42 WR65
2018 1426 111 WR8
2017 917 58 WR20

As we can see Juju has not lived up to expectations after his prolific  2018 season. Last year, he only managed to play five games, so his lack of production was not entirely his fault. However, prior to his injury, he was operating as the third option in the passing attack behind Dionta Johnson and Chase Claypool. He also was coming off of two subpar seasons and was in need of a fresh start. 

Despite this, he still has three better seasons than MVS has ever had. It is strange to see such a difference in their contracts. This makes me think there might be something the public isn’t seeing. Although I do expect Juju to lead this group in targets, that’s certainly not what the money says. I’ll be approaching with caution and still just treating him as an upside WR3 in fantasy football leagues. This will likely be a group effort, with a different WR taking the lead role each week. Particularly if the Chiefs add another receiver through the draft 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

MVS is one of the brand new signings for the Chiefs looking to fill Tyreek Hill’s speed role. He has served as an over-the-top threat for the Packers for the last four seasons. His best finish came in the 2020 campaign where he caught 33 passes for 690 yards and six touchdowns. He has never been a reliable fantasy option, however, his three year/$30 million deal with Kansas City suggests they plan on him being a large part of the offense.

I think his biggest impact will be felt through defenses having to respect his speed downfield. For fantasy, I expect big performances when he is able to catch a long pass downfield. No one will be able to guess however when these performances will come. The Chiefs are likely to add a playmaker through the draft, who could push MVS down the depth chart. He’s a boom or bust fantasy WR4 for me, with a chance to have a larger role if the Chiefs decide to forgo an early-round receiver. 

Mecole Hardman

Hardman will be jostling with Juju and MVS for targets in this new look Kansas City offense. In his first three seasons, he has struggled to maintain a consistent role behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. He has competed with Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, And Bryon Pringle for playing time with mixed results. He’s electrifying with the ball in his hands, but key drops and inability to consistently get open have hampered his development. 

Hardman fell out of favor in the offense at the end of last season as Bryon Pringle passed him on the depth chart. He never reached a 50% snap percentage again after week ten except due to injuries in week 18. Hardman will once again look to prove himself, as he is the closest player on paper to Hill. Like MVS, I see Hardman as a boom or bust fantasy player, who will have periodic great performances in between unproductive outings. He’s hovering around WR55 overall for me in dynasty. 

What do you think of the Tyreek trade? You can follow Emerson on Twitter @Dynasty_Analyst to keep up with his work. Keep your eyes peeled for more articles from our great Dynasty team, coming soon. Remember to tune into the 5 Yard Dynasty livestream every Tuesday at 8pm (GMT).

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