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Player Spotlight: Ryan Tannehill

A detailed look at Ryan Tannehill's fantasy prospects for 2013

Setting the Stage

Ryan Tannehill is a native Texan, born in Lubbock and played high school football in Big Spring. Tannehill played as a defensive back as a sophomore and then switched to quarterback as a junior. He was rated as a three star and considered a dual threat quarterback, having rushed for 1,439 yards and passed for 2,668 in his high school career. He signed with Texas A&M and redshirted his first year. Prior to his redshirt freshman season, the Aggies hired Mike Sherman.

Tannehill failed to impress in his preseason workouts and was moved to wide receiver. Even though he continued to express the desire to play quarterback, he was successful as a wide receiver catching 55 passes for 844 yards and 5 touchdowns. He was given another shot at quarterback before his sophomore season, but again lost out and played wide receiver again, catching 46 passes for 609 yards and 4 touchdowns. He remained at wide receiver in his junior year, before finally getting to play quarterback in the 7th game against Kansas. He started his first game the next week and led the Aggies to six straight wins at the end of the season, including wins over Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. Tannehill started all 13 games as a senior and served as a team captain, throwing for 3,744 yards and 42 touchdowns along with 369 yards rushing for another 4 touchdowns.

Despite only playing quarterback for a year and a half in college, Tannehill was highly regarded prior to the NFL 2012 draft and considered the third best quarterback behind consensus No. 1 and No. 2 picks, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. He didn't last long and went 8th overall to the Miami Dolphins and becoming the first quarterback drafted in the first round by Miami since Dan Marino is 1983.

Tannehill started all 16 games in his rookie campaign and completed 282 out of 484 passes (58.3%) for 3,294 yards, averaging a modest 6.81 yards per attempt (ypa). He threw only 12 touchdowns with 13 interceptions, but improved that ratio with only two interceptions against six passing touchdowns over the final six games.

Looking Forward to 2013

Tannehill is still learning the quarterback position as we approach 2013. He has started only 35 games - 19 in college and 16 in the NFL. The Dolphins keep the entire coaching staff from last season and will likely be running a very similar offense to last year, and have added a couple of receivers that will give Tannehill more opportunities in the passing game. The team also added several players to their suspect offensive line and should be improved. However, there are a lot of new faces there and the all-important familiarity with each other will not be there, especially early.

The team added Mike Wallace in free agency and he adds much needed speed on the outside and the capability to stretch the field. Wallace has a career 17.2 YPC and has scored 32 touchdowns in his four NFL seasons. Dustin Keller was also added and is a definite upgrade to the tight end position, which totaled only 59 catches for 544 yards a year ago. Keller had averaged 60 catches per season in 2010 and 2011, but was injured and played in only eight games for the Jets last season. The team also added Brandon Gibson, who will play in the slot for the Dolphins. Brian Hartline returns off a career season a year ago when he caught 74 passes for 1,083 yards, but only 1 touchdown.

Positives

  • Nice rookie season with 3,294 passing yards and should improve his play in his second year
  • Has good mobility and is a capable runner with 197 yards and 2 touchdowns as a rookie
  • Has much improved receiving options including Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson

Negatives

  • Offensive line is not highly regarded and has many new members
  • Lack of experienced running backs, with a career total of 308 carries for 1,164 yards (3.62 YPC)

Projections:

  Comp Att Comp % Pass Yds ypa Pass TDs Ints Rush Yds Rush TDs
Holloway 318 520 61.2% 3,695 7.11 22 12 50 220 2
Message Board Consensus 312 521 59.9% 3,733 7.17 22 15 59 292 3

Final Thoughts

Ryan Tannehill is a perfect target as a reserve fantasy quarterback for 2013. His early preseason ADP is QB24 and 177 overall, and he finished as the QB24 in his rookie season. He can be selected very late, has a reasonably high floor and potential for improvement on his rookie season. His current ADP is equal to where he finished last year, so increased production with his additional experience and his new weapons should make a value pick.


Message Board Commentary

FF Ninja said: I'm very interested in Tannehill this year. As a very green QB he was thrust into the starting role (possibly the least college starts of any week 1 rookie starter ever) when Garrard was injured before week 1 of the preseason and Matt Moore failed to impress the coaching staff. Despite a poor receiving corps, he managed a very good rookie campaign compared to rookie QBs of the past, but this was overshadowed by the play of Luck, Griffin, Wilson, and to some extent, 2nd year player Kaepernick. This overshadowing has led to Griffin, Kaepernick, and Wilson being overdrafted and Tannehill sliding to an ADP just barely above where he finished last year (QB22 vs. QB24).

This year Miami has had some changes - including the loss of his injured LT and his starting RB, but added several offensive weapons, namely Mike Wallace. Personally, I think Wallace will fit in quite well with Tannehill's mobility and strong arm. Additionally, Miami finished 24th last year in passing attempts per game. It is likely that he'll surpass last year's 484 attempts. I think the improvement in the receiving corps will help him with his ypa and his TDs (along with the experience), but I also think he probably caught some bad breaks on touchdowns last year. Just looking at his #1 WR's stat line should tell you something just didn't fall their way - 74 rec 1083 yds 1 TD. In fact, no WR caught more than 1 TD. The WR corps totaled 299 targets, 184 receptions, 2504 yards, and 4 TD. Anthony Fasano was the only player with more than 2 TDs. I think we see a substantial uptick in his TD total this year.
 
In addition to the increased TD production, I would think such a green QB would see his completion percentage increase as well, given the additional experience and his better weapons. I'm predicting he increases from 58.3% to 61%. I also think his yards per completion sees at least a small bump from 11.7 to 12 as I anticipate Wallace (17.2 career ypc) has an effect while Fasano's 8.1 ypc is either improved upon or phased out.

Another notable feature in Tannehill's stat line is his rushing. Much like Russell Wilson, he did very little rushing early in the season... 21 rushes for 16 yards in the first 10 games. He ended the year with 181 yards in 6 games.

IHEARTFF said: I expect some improvements across the board with more experience and better weapons less Bush. In addition to Wallace, they added Dustin Keller to replace Anthony Fasano.  Keller is a better athlete and has been more productive despite having Mark Sanchez as his qb in his first 4 seasons. Hartline should be more efficient as these 2 will draw the defense away from him. The Dolphins tied for the fewest 40+ yard passing plays last season and I expect Wallace to add at least 3 or 4 more of those.

Mr. Irrelevant said: Tannehill is going to be a fascinating case study for me. A guy whose measurables and college performance suggested he'd be well-suited to be a 3rd-round draft pick and (given his limited experience) spend a couple of years picking up the vagaries of NFL offenses while carrying a clipboard before earning a chance to start in, say, 2014.
Nothing about either his college career or his first year suggests to me he's likely to ever be an elite QB, but "Andy Dalton with a stronger arm and better wheels" seems likely and isn't a bad comp to hang your dynasty hat on.

And I'd expect his second year to shake out much like Dalton's did - slight improvements almost across the board, with an additional bump to ypa and TD's to account for Wallace's arrival in town. I don't expect the Fins to go pass-happy this year because of that, but 2 extra attempts per game seems reasonable. I see his completion % remaining below average, both because Wallace is primarily a downfield threat and because Tannehill's never been surgically accurate.

He'll make a few plays with his legs, but I doubt he'll ever become a Cam-like threat at the goal line.  Let's bump him up to 3.5 rushes a game at a 5ypc clip. He isn't gonna win you a title as your starter but is more than adequate for a backup you can get at QB23 or thereabouts. Another reason I'd be happy to target him there is that his risks from that base are mainly to the upside, while those of many in his general ADP vicinity (Cutler, Schaub, Palmer, Vick) are much more to the downside.

gianmarco said: He's the ideal QB2 if you have a legit starter (Cam, Rodgers, Brees, etc.). Huge upside, low cost. I take him over guys like Flacco, Ben, Eli all day long even though they will be taken higher.


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