There were some Fantasy managers who thought the addition of Tyreek Hill would crush Waddle. Thankfully, that was far from reality, and Waddle had a standout sophomore campaign when he averaged 15.2 PPR points (he was at 15.3 PPR points as a rookie in 2021). Now entering Year 3, it's clear Waddle should be considered among the best Fantasy receivers, and he's worth drafting as early as late Round 2 in all leagues. If there is a concern for Waddle it's the health of Tua Tagovailoa because Waddle's numbers suffered when Tagovailoa was out in 2022, but hopefully the addition of Mike White can help Waddle if pressed into action. As productive as Waddle has been through his first two seasons, this could be his best year yet, and he's someone to target on Draft Day in all formats.
Waddle played second fiddle to Tyreek Hill in the duo’s first season together.
But in a Miami offense that heavily featured its dynamic duo, Waddle still reached 117 targets. And he produced like a mid-tier WR1.
Only 25 (in November), Waddle should still be on the ascent. Another top-10 fantasy season is on tap – if Tua Tagovailoa can stay on the field.
What We Learned Last YearWaddle posted five top-12 fantasy finishes; eight inside the top-24.Overall, Waddle ranked as the PPR WR8; WR13 in points per game.He lagged behind new Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill in target share (20.8% vs. 30.2%).Following a broken ankle at Alabama in 2020, Waddle hasn’t missed a game due to injury for the second straight season. He did play through groin and shoulder injuries.He reached a max speed of 21.68 MPH, per Next Gen Stats, a number only 5 NFL players beat. Waddle's speed remained elite.We saw that speed more downfield under new HC Mike McDaniel. Waddle’s average depth of target (aDOT) jumped from 7.0 (2021) to 12.7 (2022).As a result, Waddle led the league in yards per reception (18.1, min. 50 targets).McDaniel also used Waddle more as an ‘X’ receiver. The ‘Bama product lined up out wide on 73.2% of his passing snaps – way more than the 38.3% figure from 2021.Waddle excelled at yards after catch per reception, ranking 3rd at the position among 83 qualifiers.He garnered only eight red zone targets (on 117 total targets), although that number was just one fewer than Tyreek Hill’s total.
What to Expect in 2023Waddle enters year three likely still on the ascent. Our research on historical aging curves showed Round 1 WRs typically reach peak production at age 26 (Waddle turns 25 in November).Miami passed on adding a significant upgrade at WR3, signing veteran WR Braxton Berrios as the likely slot replacement for TE/slot Mike Gesicki.The Dolphins return the same HC (Mike McDaniel), OC (Frank Smith), and WR coach (Wes Welker).Miami ranked 8th in pass rate last season (60%). With the same staff back, we expect a similar rate in 2023.Waddle’s 3rd pro season will largely come down to the health of Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered multiple concussions in 2022. In four games without Tua, Waddle finished as the WR75, WR9, WR37, and WR37. Miami at least upgraded their backup QB spot, signing former Jet Mike White to a 2-year deal with $4.5 million guaranteed.
Waddle has finished each of his first two NFL seasons as a top-15 fantasy WR, but he took very different paths each year. As a rookie in 2021, Waddle was a short-range target (7.0 aDOT) and caught 104 passes for 1,015 yards and six TDs. Last season, Waddle played more of a downfield role (12.0 aDOT) and led all WRs in yards per reception (18.1) and yards per target (11.6) while finishing second in RAC (7.0). His reception total plummeted, but his yardage skyrocketed and his numbers actually would've been better if Tua Tagovailoa missed less time (287 yards and zero TDs in five games Tagovailoa was out or left injured). More goal line work would be nice (he has eight career end zone targets), but Waddle is a budding star and a featured target in a good offense. The 24-year-old is a fringe WR1.