Mike Wallace sure seems to like this Ryan Tannehill kid. The two teammates are playing catch (or rather, you run really far and I’ll throw it really far) two or three times together after practice every day.
Wallace has been so impressed that he raised the bar to Ben Roethlisberger-ian levels earlier this week:
“Both have strong arms. Ryan has a cannon, can really fling it. Ryan may be able to throw the ball a little farther than Ben. Obviously, Ben is more experienced in game time experience. The way it’s going, it won’t take long for Ryan to be one of the great quarterbacks. I feel like we can make a lot of big plays.”
Mighty high praise for a quarterback whose wife is already worth $1 million, earned through a talent for being easy to look at, and easy to click on. The Miami life is a rough life.
Tannehill is one hell of a drug this offseason, and it’s easy to get pretty high on his growing fantasy aroma. So, here’s the question that lies before us: will Tannehill in 2013 = Andrew Luck in 2012?
In his rookie season, Luck finished with 264 fantasy points on his 4,374 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He did that despite a tremble-inducing completion percentage (54.1) and passer rating (76.5). His 13 picks on the road compared to only five at home were also a little troubling, but fantasy-wise he compensated for those shortcomings with 255 rushing yards and five touchdowns. On the rushing numbers alone, that’s 55.5 points.
Luck had Reggie Wayne, whom he revived and nurtured back from the dead. Wayne’s 2012 receiving total was a swift uptick from his 2011 total (from 960 yards to 1,355 yards) and suddenly all that was old and rusty was shiny again. But beyond him, Luck began last year with a whole lot of something that Tannehill won’t deal with this fall: inexperience.
Last year, Luck returned fine late-round value. His final fantasy point total was ahead of Matthew Stafford’s season of despair (263 points), yet on average Luck came off the board at 126.8th overall in ESPN leagues, while Stafford’s year of bringing his owners to the edges of high buildings began when he was selected with an ADP of 16.5th overall. Luck did that while having three rookies among his primary targets (T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, and Coby Fleener), and an inconsistent running game led by Vick Ballard for most of the season — oh look, another rookie — that averaged just 104.4 yards per game (22nd).
I’ll brand myself as a Tannehill believer, while admitting that he may never be Luck, and he’ll always fall at least one tier short of the two leading quarterbacks in his draft class (Luck and Robert Griffin III). But we care so very little about that in 2013, because any gap in talent — specifically, mobility — between the two can be overcome by the talent that now surrounds Tannehill.
Beyond Wallace, the Dolphins also retained Brian Hartline, while signing Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller. If he can stay healthy, Keller is a much better pass-catching option than Anthony Fasano. Even last year in a season when he missed nine games and dealt with the horrors of Mark Sanchez et al in New York, Keller still nearly matched Fasano in receiving yards (Fasano had 332 yards, to Keller’s 317), and he’s only a year removed from finishing with 815 yards and five touchdowns.
It gets better when we consider that last year, the mediocrity beyond Hartline that Tannehill was throwing to ended with his top three targets combining for only 2,193 receiving yards. If we put the 2012 totals from Hartline, Wallace, and Gibson together, they finished with 2,610 yards. Upgrades are still the best.
So here are the easy steps to jumping on the Tannehill in 2013 campaign:
- Remember Luck’s numbers (readily outlined above) that he posted while often throwing to fellow rookies, and a veteran reclamation project in Donnie Avery.
- Remember Luck’s tremendously terrific ADP last year, which doubles as a reminder to never, ever draft quarterbacks early.
- Remember the numbers associated with the sweet upgrade Tannehill’s offensive support is getting.
- Now, here’s the best part: look up Tannehill’s current ADP in mock drafts, and see that according to Fantasy Football Calculator, he’s being selected at about 158th overall.
Late round QB drafting will win the day again in August. In Tannehill we trust.