by Will Overton
When it comes to discussing the fantasy relevance of rookie quarterbacks the discussion seems to start and stop with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. And fair enough those are the two locks to be starting week one and they’re the two safe bets to have fantasy relevance, any of it at all.
But last year all the attention was on Cam Newton, and Cam Newton did come through and prove himself more than worthy of the hype. But there was also a rookie named Andy Dalton who was overlooked by every owner and ended up making a nice deep league play by the end of the season.
This year the Miami Dolphins took Ryan Tannehill number nine overall in the draft. A lot of people criticized the pick and a lot of people questioned and are still questioning whether he has a future in real football or fantasy football. But the Dolphins still believe that Tannehill is their QB of the future and so the question has to be asked whether or not Tannehill can have fantasy value.
Let’s start the discussion by looking at what Tannehill did in his senior season at the helm of the Texas A&M offense:
Passing: 327 – 531, 3,744 YDS, 29 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: 58 CAR, 306 YDS, 5.3 YPC, 4 TD
Tannehill proved that knows how to sling the ball around the field and make something happen. But he also proved that there is some growth needed for the converted wide receiver. Tannehill just barely cleared 60% completion and made his share of bad decision with 15 INT’s.
What should help Tannehill make up some ground as far as all he has to learn is that he already knows the offense. The Dolphins hired Tannehill’s college coach as their offensive coordinator back in January and Sherman will undoubtedly introduce a similar offense to that which was run at Texas A&M thus shortening the learning curve.
The biggest problem right now for Tannehill is the fact that he is not locked in as a starter this year, by any means. The Dolphins still have Matt Moore on board who was a bit more than respectable last season. Moore started 13 games and he ended up with almost 2,500 yards and a 16/9 TD:INT ratio.
The Dolphins also went out and signed David Garrard to join the team and compete for the starting job. Garrard is the most proven QB on the team with six straight seasons under his belt where he had a QB rating of 80.0 or higher. Garrard lost his last job without really being given a fair chance to fight. I imagine he won’t let go of this chance without a fight.
If the Dolphins decide to play for the present and want to win now Moore is probably the choice, if not Garrard. But if the Dolphins decide they are still a ways away from playoff contention, which they probably than Tannehill will be starting, if not right away within the first half of the season.
And if Tannehill gets the job he may have more value than many think. Moore is a decent QB, but he’a a fringe starter, yet he managed solid numbers last year running the Miami offense. The Dolphins are fortunate to play in the AFC East where they get to play the Bills and Patriots twice, two of the worst pass defenses in the league.
The Dolphins also have weapons that benefit a young QB. Reggie Bush is possibly the best receiving back in all of football. Anthony Fasano isn’t an elite TE, but he’s a nice red zone target. And Davone Bess is an underrated possession receivers in football, despite being undersized.
The other thing Tannehill has on his side is that he’s a natural playmaker. He’s not Cam Newton with his legs, nor is he even Robert Griffin III. But he’s a playmaker who can make something happen when things start to fall apart around him. As a QB whose still learning the ropes of the position it’s important that he be able to do that.
If your draft is soon than I would probably hold off on Tannehill except for as a late flier in deep leagues. But if you draft later keep an eye on what’s happening in Miami because I think Tannehill could be a sleeper, which is surprising since he was a top 10 pick. In deep keeper leagues I would take a flier whether he starts the season as QB1 or not. I think Tannehill’s long term value is being underrated here and I think it’s a late round gamble worth taking.
Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings: