Tagovailoa vs Jackson

Question: Who do we like more as a Quarterback: Lamar Jackson or Tua Tagovailoa?

Answer: Easy – Lamar Jackson!

This seems like a silly conversation to have right? Well if they had both come into the NFL during the same draft class and their respective rookie results remained we would be looking at a comparable ECR and ADP going into their sophomore seasons.

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Now the 2019 season that Lamar Jackson had deserves the credit which it got. I can’t say enough about how incredibly hard it is to have that level of MVP success at the QB position in the NFL. I don’t expect Tua to replicate, or come close to some of the electrifying rushing performances turned in by Lamar in 2019. What I do expect, is that Tua Tagovailoa exceeds his current ECR of QB 20-23 and ADP of round 13-14.

Rookie Seasons

Let’s compare the situation that each player came into as well as the outcome at the end of their rookie season.

  • In 2018 Lamar Jackson took over from Joe Flacco in week 10
  • In 2020 Tua Tagovailoa took over from Ryan Fitzpatrick in week 8
  • At the time when Jackson took over, Flacco was easily thought to be the better passer between the two.
  • At the time when Tagovailoa took over, Fitzpatrick was coming off back to back wins and was being referred to lovingly as “Fitzmagic”
  • Jackson led the Ravens to a wildcard birth going 6-1 down the stretch
  • Tagovailoa and the Dolphins narrowly missed a playoff birth after Tua went 6-3 as a starter

Without watching any tape on each player in their rookie seasons its easy to say that they came in to similar situations on above average teams which were looking to pivot to a more dynamic quarterback of the future.

Following their week 8 bye, Miami won 3 straight games with Tagovailoa starting under center and was building momentum towards a wildcard position in the competitive mid-tier of the AFC. Fans had begun to think that Brian Flores might have had the right idea. Still some questions remained regarding Tagovailoa. He had yet to attempt >30 passes in a game and the Dolphins defense was being heralded as one of the leagues most impactful.

The sentiment during the Rookie season for Lamar Jackson was mixed. Everyone with eyeballs could see that he has a special talent as a runner but questions remained about his passing abilities. Those questions perhaps came to a boiling point during the Wild Card game against the LA Chargers where the Chargers prevailed 23-17. Jackson was quoted saying “I played poorly” in post game comments to the media.

Not so differently the Tua train came to a brief stop in Miami when Ryan Fitzpatrick came on in relief with just under 10 minutes to play in week 16 against the Raiders. Take a moment and revisit the magic that ensued…

Sophomore Season: Jackson

We know what happened next with Lamar Jackson, he earned himself an MVP title in 2019 for his record breaking season where he racked up 1,206 rushing yards, the most by any QB since Michael Vick ran for 1,039 yards in 2006. His rushing performance was so good that people had to remind themselves that he played QB, wasn’t “just a running back.” Adding to that, he threw 36TD’s with only 6 INT’s the most TD passes by any QB in the NFL for 2019.

Sophomore Season: Tagovailoa

While we don’t know what will happen in 2021/22 for the Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume they take a step forward.

  • The Dolphins finished 10-6 in 2020 – good for 2nd in hte AFC East behind Buffalo
  • They had great splits at 5-3 home and away
  • They hold the #6, #18, #36, #50 and #81 picks in the first 3 rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft
  • With needs at WR, OL, ILB and Edge Rusher the Dolphins can address all 4 of those positions by the 50th pick
  • Rookie OL Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley will all have 1 season under they’re belt
  • Will Fuller signed a 1-yr $10.6M deal in free agency

Players with a direct correlation to increased success for Tagovailoa include a pass catching option like WR Ja’Marr Chase or TE Kyle Pitts which look to be a mismatch target for years to come or invest in their young offensive line with a player like OT Penei Sewell, OT Rashawn Slater or OT Jalen Mayfield. Regardless of what players and positions the Dolphins add to the mix in the draft they are going to be a contender in the AFC and project into a Wildcard birth along side teams like the Tennessee Titans.

For Fantasy Mangers looking at their 2021 draft plans, take a look at penciling Tua Tagovailoa in as a high upside QB2 with plenty of room to improve upon this rookie campaign in 2020. He likely won’t become a 2021/22 MVP but he may provide the best upside of any QB drafted in rounds 10 and beyond.

David Carey – April 7, 2021

Follow me on Twitter @87_Carey and @fantasymarksmen

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