It is slightly too early for fantasy football analysis. We just found out who teams are playing against but with little to no injuries about injuries and contract holdouts or the like, it is hard to come up with cogent arguments.
This series will review the value of specific rookies and as we are far out I will focus on rookies who are the most likely to have a starting role, who will have one from the get go and how I believe that will project outward. At the end, I will indicate where I think the given player SHOULD be drafted. This way, if you miss out on the player because someone pulled the trigger too prematurely, you can smirk and pick someone more valuable when the pick comes around to you. Likewise, if the player no one believes in falls to you, it’s time for a mental fist-pump.
***before we get started each week I will remind everyone that the analysis in this series is based on regular, season-long point per reception scoring. It also assumes you play in a 12 team league***
Full disclosure, I’m a Dolphins fan. I was incredibly happy when the Dolphins drafted Jaylan Waddle. He didn’t have the moments that DeVonta Smith had last season. He was injured and DeVonta Smith earned the number 1 receiver spot for Alabama. However, I love Waddle’s speed, route running and ability to get separation.
The last time we saw Jaylen Waddle playing a football game he was clearly injured and he had a fairly obvious limp. However, he since has looked good in team activities and is showing no obvious signs of injury.
The Dolphins have recovered nicely from Adam Gase’s assault on interesting football. In one season they went from tanking to just missing the playoffs. While Tua Tagovailoa looked solid for the most part last season critics didn’t like his inability/or unwillingness to stretch the field. I contended the weapons were sub par. Davante Parker seems to have turned the corner but he wouldn’t be anyone else’s number 1 receiver. The same can be said about the undrafted Preston Williams or the 5’6” Jakeem Grant. I’m not even convinced that either of those guys will make the team.
Waddle’s top end speed combined with the ability to burst in and out of cuts makes him the big play threat the Dolphins were sorely lacking last season. I saw a lot of comps that measured him against the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill. It has been leaked and confirmed that the Jacksonville Jaguars had two players tied for their highest draft grade. The first player was Trevor Lawrence (the quarterback they drafted) and the other was Jaylen Waddle. The Jags are an organization renowned for talent evaluation in the last few years so this bodes well for the rookie receiver.
Perhaps this is my bias but I think Waddle is the kind of receiver who will make an impact right away. In my mind there is no doubt that they will want to give Tua every opportunity to succeed and I think an offense that features Waddle, Parker, Mike Gesicki, and the newly acquired Will Fuller should make for a wide open offense and one defences won’t be able to key on a single player.
I do have a very specific worry. It doesn’t matter a ton given his ADP but there is a chance that the volume comes largely on low efficiency targets. If that’s the case then Waddle will be more of a boom/bust play. In the end you’re drafting him as a WR4 with upside and I think the upside is massive.
Summary: Waddle’s speed and route running makes him a shoe-in to be involved in the offense immediately. Additionally, the team picked him early and the path to success seems very clear.
Where should you draft Jaylen Waddle: Right now Waddle’s ADP is about 110 in ppr leagues. This would mean he’d be a fairly early 9th round pick. There are a few players in this range that don’t excite me. Curtis Samuel and Hollywood Brown likely won’t help you win your league. I’m ok with “reaching up into the late 8th round to grab him. This of course can all change is he has a breakout preseason.
Quick Analysis: Waddle might be a guy you cut loose early if he doesn’t get involved in the offense early. However, if he’s as good as advertised he could be a league winner in this range. The Dolphins want Tua Time to come to fruition and Waddle seems to be one of the major dominos.