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NFL Today: Tua Tagovailoa’s Rapid Rise

October 6, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Terron Armstead could be sidelined for a while for the Miami Dolphins.
Miami’s great offense will be without four-time Pro Bowler Terron Armstead for a while. (Miami Dolphins)

The Pats have addressed their cornerback situation by trading for J.C. Jackson from the Chargers; Denver is leaning into its rebuild by waiving outside linebacker Randy Gregory; and stud WR Cooper Kupp (hamstring) has returned to practice and is now expected to suit up this weekend. Let’s look at some other stories we’re following heading into Week Five…

Tua Tagovailoa’s Continuous Improvement

Considering that less than two years ago he was still someone you could grab off the waiver wire, Tuo Tagovailoa‘s journey into a tier one lineup lock has been rapid and dramatic.

In his sophomore season in 2021, he showed some huge improvements, although interceptions were an issue. Last year, the Fins set Tagovailoa more free, allowing him to throw the ball 400 times for the first time and he rewarded their faith with a huge uptick in touchdown passes. And so far in 2023, he continues to improve, getting sacked less frequently while showing his greatest accuracy yet and continued improvements in his yards per attempt as part of the nearly unstoppable offensive machine that Miami has built.

Tagovailoa entered the NFL from a winning environment at Alabama, and was considered a very talented pivot capable of beating you in the air or on the ground. He showed promise as a running quarterback in his first two seasons, but hasn’t been as effective in that regard since.

Miami was cooled off by the Bills in Week Four and will now be without starting LT Terron Armstead (knee) against the Giants this weekend, a loss that could really weaken the Dolphins’ offensive line given the protection disparity with or without him in the lineup (see video below).

This injury, combined with facing a solid Giant pass defense, could lead to another somewhat challenging game for Tagovailoa, but even so, consider him a top five option for Week Five. At this point it’s clear that even when he’s not at his best like in Week Four, he’s still a very solid Fantasy option.

In fact, given his current pace, it’s conceivable Tagovailoa gets MVP consideration this season.

Chiefs Showing Some Cracks

A quarter of the way through the season, the Kansas City Chiefs are in first place in the AFC West, but it’s safe to say they have not been immune to their share of struggles. KC kicked off the season by losing to Detroit, then barely got past Jacksonville before steamrolling over the Bears. Last week, if not for a Zach Wilson fumble, the Chiefs may have lost to the Jets.

Despite its issues (which compared to most teams are minor at best), KC is still the favourite (+280 odds at FanDuel) to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and things are starting to look up for this squad.

For starters, KC’s next two opponents both make their own struggles seem like first world problems — Minnesota and Denver.

Secondly, KC is starting to get healthier, especially on defense, with positive updates this week on both linebacker Nick Bolton (ankle) and cornerback Jaylen Watson (shoulder). Bolton is a great IDP option, having finished second in the NFL last year with 180 tackles. He’s an integral part of the Chief defense, but remained limited at practice on Wednesday and Thursday, so it’s still not clear whether he’ll be ready to return this week. At this point, Bolton will be a game-time decision.

Watson played an important role in the KC secondary as a rookie last year, and while he was limited at practice Wednesday, he did manage to be a full participant on Thursday so it sounds like he will play on Sunday. Either way, it seems like he’s going to have a lesser role this season.

James Cook’s Seamless Transition

It’s high time to give some Fantasy love to Buffalo running back James Cook. The 2022 second round pick showed enough in a support role as a rookie last season that the Bills felt comfortable giving him the keys to the kingdom this year.

Allowing Devin Singletary to head to Houston as a free agent in the offseason proved to be the correct move for Buffalo given how James has fared as the featured back. All Cook has done is rank seventh in the NFL in rushing yards and third in yards from scrimmage.

Consider him a high-end RB2 for a tough Week Five matchup against Jacksonville and its eighth-ranked run D. Yes, there’s some concern in the wake of Cook’s inefficient showing in Week Four, but he did manage a touchdown and if he starts getting more red zone opportunities, he could quickly morph into an RB1.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

American new wave band The Motels launched in 1975 and notwithstanding a couple of breaks, are still going today. They are best known for their hit “Only the Lonely,” which was the first single from their third album All Four One.

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