Fantasy Football: What does losing Ryan Tannehill mean?
Rumors started swirling Thursday from an injury that Ryan Tannehill suffered during training camp. NFL Network’s Rich Eisen put the day-long drip of mixed details perfectly:
Today's Tannehill Twitter:
Still don't know, which is bad
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) August 4, 2017
Losing Tannehill for the season is not only the worst-case scenario for Miami, it also leaves waves rippling through the fantasy football options on their roster. Luckily for us, the Dolphins’ signal caller missed three games last year, and that gives us a decent idea what happens to each of the fantasy options on the Dolphins’ roster.
The quarterback situation is easy; Ryan Tannehill is barely fantasy relevant outside of two-QB leagues, and neither Matt Moore nor Brandon Doughty nor David Fales improves on that situation. If Tannehill misses the season, there’s not a quarterback worth owning in single quarterback leagues, though Moore’s propensity to go deep makes him intriguing.
There are several QB options available, namely Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Jay Cutler (if you can pry him away from TV). Kaepernick is unlikely to become a Dolphin due to his status as the only player needing to pass a fan approval threshold and his infamous Fidel Castro tee-shirt. RG3 is washed, so that leaves currently-in-an-announcing-booth Jay Cutler. Cutler makes the most sense due to his time with Gase in Denver and has the most fantasy intrigue if Tannehill misses the year. He won’t drastically improve on Tannehill’s prospects and would fit in about the same fantasy football QB range as Tannehill.
For Jay Ajayi (who has his own injury concerns due to a concussion), this is a good thing. With Tannehill last season, Ajayi played on a 1,275 rushing yard pace. Without Tannehill, however, Ajayi’s carries per game went up from 16.08 to 22.33, and his season-long pace ballooned to 1685 rush yards, accordingly. His touchdown pace dropped from nine to five, but projecting touchdowns from a three-game sample size is… not great. It does, however, speak to lower opportunities for TDs with Moore instead of Tannehill. Ajayi will likely have a higher floor, but a lower ceiling, due to limited touchdown opportunities.
While things are better for Ajayi, it’s a mixed bag for the wide receivers. Jarvis Landry lost about a target per game, but nothing appreciably changed about his yardage, reception rate or yards per receptions. He had two of his four touchdowns in the three games with Moore under center, which suggests his usage could finally change to make him a viable fantasy football WR2 outside of PPR leagues if Moore plays instead of Tannehill. The addition of Julius Thomas, who flourished under Adam Gase in Denver as a red zone weapon, lessens that possibility.
Almost nothing changed for DeVante Parker under Matt Moore last season when compared to Ryan Tannehill. In his 12 games with Tannehill last year, Parker was on pace to catch 61 of 95 targets for 796 yards and four touchdowns. With Moore, those numbers turned to 53 of 91 targets for 784 yards and five touchdowns. Parker was essentially the same player with or without Tannehill last season, so don’t expect much of a change there.
Kenny Stills, the boom-or-bust deep threat, gained the most on the surface, but that’s solely because he had three touchdowns in three games with Moore. While he works well with Moore’s deep ball attitude, his increased production was fluky. He averaged fewer yards per game with Moore while getting slightly more than one additional target per game. In short, nothing will change for Stills with Moore under center instead of Tannehill except the Moore connection adds to his DFS viability and may give him early waiver wire appeal.
The tight end was essentially a forgotten position last year in Miami, and the Tannehill injury won’t change its 2017 trajectory. The addition of Julius Thomas, who previously flourished under Adam Gase, meant the position was due for a bounce back. Thomas will likely steal from the wide receivers, but that is independent of their projections with or without Ryan Tannehill.