The 2022 NFL offseason continued to keep the foot on the pedal as another huge name was moved via trade…
Chiefs are trading six-time Pro-Bowl WR Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins for five draft picks: a 2022 1st-round pick (No. 29), a 2nd-round pick (No. 50) and a 4th-round pick, as well as 4th- and 6th-round picks in the 2023 draft, sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 23, 2022
This breaks up a Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce combo that tormented the AFC the past six seasons. The Chiefs themselves will look to alter their approach. Over the time Patrick Mahomes has been under center, Hill and Kelce have combined to account for 44.1% of the team receptions, 48.8% of the receiving yardage, and 52.3% of the receiving touchdowns.
Tyreek Hill Career Stats
Hill has shown the ability to be an all-around wideout over his career, morphing into a reliable reception-based commodity over the past season and a half as teams have sold out to defend the deep ball against the Chiefs after being the league’s most gifted lid lifter prior.
Hill is coming off a unique season in 2021, one that saw him collect his most target opportunity and receptions, but also lose out on a number of high-efficiency metrics.
Tyreek Hill Career Advanced Metrics
Hill posted his lowest depth of target and yards per target since his rookie season while his yards per route run and yards generated after the catch per reception were the lowest of his six-year career.
After scoring 40 of 61 career touchdowns from outside of the red zone (65.6%) in 2016-2020, Hill scored just four of his 12 touchdowns from outside of the red zone in 2021.
The question above will be is Hill in a true decline, or was his usage massively altered in approach to how teams were forced to defend the Chiefs and Hill.
In 2020, Kansas City was able to combat that in a much better fashion than this past season, so questioning whether more of that falls on Hill or the coaching staff is a question we will have answered soon enough.
Even with the reduction of Hill’s efficiency, he still closed 2021 as the WR6 in points per game, his fifth consecutive WR1 campaign. Despite scoring fewer times from long range, he still scored 12 times in 20 games this season, giving him seven or more offensive scores in every season of his career.
Tyreek Hill Career Performance per Quarterback
Hill has benefited from attachment to Patrick Mahomes and the elite Kansas City climate, but he also has been an effective pass catcher no matter who has thrown him the football in a similar fashion that we have seen from DeSean Jackson over the duration of his career. Hill brings a special skill set that also elevates his passer.
Going back to his second NFL season, Hill was the WR5 in fantasy points per game playing with Alex Smith, ranking third in the NFL in yards (670) and touchdowns (six) on throws 15 yards or further downfield that season.
Patrick Mahomes Career Splits with Tyreek Hill On/Off the Field
data per TruMedia
|EPA per DB||0.26||0.18|
The passer on the right hand side is still very good, but even Mahomes himself has been aided by Hill, even if the duo together is a match made in heaven from a skill perspective.
We should anticipate Tua Tagovailoa to receive a similar bump as the passers noted above when targeting Hill.
Tagovailoa saw improvement across the board off his rookie numbers, but still was limited from a fantasy perspective, closing as the QB23 in points per game. Through 21 starts, Tagovailoa has four QB1 scoring weeks with two inside of the top-10.
Tagovailoa worked behind the league’s worst offensive line, ranking last in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate and last in Pro Football Focus grades. This forced Miami to go into a heavy RPO passing game and played a role in Tua’s 7.4-yard average depth of target (33rd) and 6.8 yards per pass attempt (32nd).
Miami has already added offensive linemen Connor Williams and Terron Armstead to their line to go along with offensive assets in Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Cedrick Wilson, while Tagovailoa will get to work with Mike McDaniel in a system that maximized efficiency for passers. That is all in addition to having Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker, and Mike Gesicki as stayovers from the previous regime.
While Tagovailoa is trending up, he still has a wide range of outcomes and there is still a tough barrier to crack as a fantasy QB1. Like Derek Carr, Tagovailoa will be a coveted QB2 at minimum, even if failing to crack into that elite tier of fantasy assets. Even with this bump, we are still elevating Tagovailoa for more things that have to do with more surrounding him than the player himself. At quarterback in fantasy, you have to extremely stand out to be a difference marker or just part of the pile of usable options.
A lot will be made about Hill changing quarterbacks, and make no mistake, moving on from Patrick Mahomes to Tua Tagovailoa is a downgrade. Just like Davante Adams changing teams last week, even if we are not moving Hill out of WR1 contention, everything about this change of scenery is a peripheral downgrade.
The team target share will remain high for Hill, but the biggest concern for fantasy more so than a change in quarterback is the offensive ideology that McDaniel may be bringing over. Over the past four seasons with Mahomes in Kansas City as the starter and McDaniel as part of the 49ers, the Chiefs (fourth in the league) have run 314 more passing plays than the 49ers (28th).
Even if McDaniel can scheme up Hill’s efficiency rebounding, we are unlikely to track down those 159 targets we had a year ago. The spike in efficiency needs to be on par with what we had early in Hill’s career if Miami is going to run a similar scheme.
Even if dinging Hill in this move, he will remain in the WR1 conversation for fantasy. The same cannot be said for his new teammate in Jaylen Waddle.
Waddle collected 28 more targets than the next closest Dolphin (Gesicki) while he was targeted on a team-high 23.8% of his routes as a rookie.
We also do not know how this impacts Waddle’s true role change.
Waddle set a new record for receptions in a season (104) by a rookie while being asked to operate as a near the line of scrimmage asset due to the position the Miami offense was forced into due to their offensive line and surrounding playmakers.
Waddle turned those receptions into a modest 1,015 yards (9.8 yards per catch) with an average depth of target of 7.0 yards, managing just 12 targets all season 20 or further yards downfield.
With Hill now on board to compromise Waddle’s overall target share and potentially stunt his growth downfield, Waddle has added volatility as a WR2 option, especially in non-PPR formats.
As for the Chiefs, Hill’s absence has also impacted Travis Kelce, although it will not move Kelce at all down from a top tight end option.
For the remainder of the pass catchers in Kansas City, we will have to see what transpires over the rest of the offseason, similar to what we were attempting to diagnose in Green Bay after the aftermath of Adams being traded. The Chiefs are going to be a popular team to use significant draft capital on a wide receiver this April.
Freshly signed JuJu Smith-Schuster has an incentive-laden contract and will be tased to recapture his early-career production, while the Chiefs still have Mecole Hardman in the final season of his rookie contract, neither of which are under contract beyond 2022.
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