Before Joe Burrow burst onto the scene and before a season-ending injury, Tua Tagovailoa seemed like the shoe-in for No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Instead, he had to settle for going fifth overall to the Dolphins. Ryan Fitzpatrick and his beloved beard look likely to start Week 1, but that's not overly interesting in fantasy football terms. What would be more intriguing is Tagovailoa taking over the starting job at some point this season, making himself a popular waiver-wire pickup whenever that happens.
It's also fair to have questions about Tagovailoa's health and how good the talent around him at Alabama made him look, but if Tagovailoa starts in 2020, fantasy owners will think about playing him.
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Tua Tagovailoa fantasy outlook
The lefthanded Tagovailoa put together monster sophomore and junior seasons after his national title game heroics as a freshman. He completed 69.0 percent of his passes as a sophomore and increased that to 71.4 percent as a junior. He averaged more than 11 yards per attempt in two straight seasons, too. Sure, Tagovailoa might've been throwing to the best receiving corps in the country behind a top-notch offensive line, but his accuracy and timing within the offense were obvious regardless.
A major concern with Tagovailoa comes from the injury that ended his Alabama career, a dislocated hip that came when he was taken to the ground while moving out of the pocket. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores acknowledged recently that Tagovailoa's injury could play a role in how soon he makes it on the field.
“That is definitely part of the conversation, for sure," Flores said. "You know what, 10 months, it was a pretty serious injury. He looks good, though. You guys have seen him. He looks goods, he looks healthy, he’s moving around to his right, to his left. But, yes, that’s part of the conversation. Look, he’s a great kid. I care about him. I want what’s best for him.”
Miami also still has Josh Rosen on its roster, who, while not exciting, allows the Dolphins to take as much time as they feel they need with Tagovailoa. Unless Miami is in sudden contention this year, Tagovailoa might get most or all of the year to watch and learn from the veterans ahead of him.
If Tagovailoa gets the reins at some point, there's reason for optimism in the Miami passing game. DeVante Parker broke out in 2019, as did tight end Mike Gesicki. Preston Williams might have his own breakout season at WR in 2020. It's not quite Alabama, but Tua could perform if given the chance.
Ryan Fitzpatrick fantasy outlook
Fitzpatrick has often served the role of the veteran who's keeping the seat warm during his NFL career. He's done it well, though. Fitzpatrick is a classic gunslinger who pairs well with the Dolphins' big, athletic receivers and tight ends. He's not afraid to just throw it up and let them go get it. That led to 20 TD passes but also 13 interceptions in 2019.
Because of the stock Miami invested in Tagovailoa, there's no doubt that when the rookie is ready, the job is his, but Fitzpatrick is a capable enough QB that he won't accelerate that process. Fitzpatrick's tendency to scramble and embrace taking big hits is the most likely thing to get Tagovailoa on the field earlier than expected.
Fitzpatrick himself isn't worth drafting in fantasy leagues, but in favorable matchups, he makes for a sneaky stack option with one or two of his pass-catchers in DFS.
Which QB is better for the Dolphins' offense?
Based on Tagovailoa's college numbers, it's likely he'll grow into a more accurate NFL passer than Fitzpatrick, but in year one, it's hard to predict that for sure. Fitzpatrick aligns well with the skill sets of Parker, Williams and Gesicki, and he's a big reason Parker and Gesicki have already broken out heading into this year.
The biggest fear for anyone drafting into Miami's passing game would be the starting job moving to Tua before he's ready. It's only fair to expect an adjustment period if the rookie starts, and that could spell a few quiet weeks for the passing game before Tagovailoa gets acclimated to the speed of the NFL. Long-term, this is obviously Tagovailoa's team, but Fitzpatrick might lead the squad best for fantasy output purposes in 2020.