The Miami Dolphins dealt fantasy football players a major surprise Tuesday, as they have reportedly named rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa their new starter over veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The shocking move could have a significant impact on those who have Dolphins players on their fantasy rosters, especially wide receiver DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki.
Those with Fitzpatrick will also be tasked with deciding whether replacing him with Tua is a viable move.
Tagovailoa is likely nothing more than a bench option in fantasy, while Parker and Gesicki could see a slight dip in production since they seemed to have strong chemistry with Fitzpatrick.
With the Dolphins leading the New York Jets 24-0 on Sunday, Tagovailoa entered the game in the closing minutes and completed both of his pass attempts for nine yards.
It was a feel-good moment after his final season at Alabama ended with a hip injury that required surgery, but few could have expected it would have immediately preceded the beginning of his tenure as a starting NFL quarterback.
Fitz has Miami off to a surprising 3-3 start, and as ESPN fantasy expert Tristan H. Cockcroft pointed out, the timing of the move is curious:
Tristan H. Cockcroft @SultanofStat
It's curious timing for the Tua move. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 3-3, he was the QB8 in fantasy scoring, he was seventh in Total QBR and his Dolphins had a plus-47 point differential, sixth-best in the league. It's doesn't make a lot of sense unless a Fitzpatrick trade is imminent.
Putting that aside, Tagovailoa is a big-time prospect who performed at a high level with the Crimson Tide.
He finished second in the 2018 Heisman Trophy voting when he threw for 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns and six interceptions, and followed that with 2,840 yards, 33 touchdowns and three picks in nine games before getting injured last year.
Tua is a highly accurate passer and possesses the type of mobility that could result in some decent rushing totals, which is always a welcome bonus for quarterbacks in fantasy.
It also isn't uncommon for rookie quarterbacks to produce right away. Just this season, the Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Burrow and Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert are 20th and 22nd, respectively, in fantasy scoring among signal-callers.
Producing at a similar level would make Tagovailoa worth a roster spot, but unless he can replicate what Fitz has done this season, he isn't a fantasy starter yet.
Parker is the Dolphins' leading receiver, and he has been Fitzpatrick's favorite target since Fitz took over as the starter last season.
This season, Parker leads the team with 29 receptions and 364 yards, and he has made two touchdown grabs. Those numbers make him the WR26 in fantasy, meaning he is a WR2 or a flex play at worst.
Parker struggled to reach his potential over his first four seasons, and it wasn't until last year with Fitz at the controls that the 2015 first-round pick broke out.
The former Louisville standout posted 72 receptions for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns.
Parker is still the Dolphins' top receiving option, but his numbers could decline if the team takes a more conservative approach or if Tua doesn't hit the ground running.
It is also possible Tagovailoa could be more comfortable throwing to Preston Williams, Isaiah Ford or Jakeem Grant.
Parker should still be on all fantasy rosters and remains worthy of starting consideration, depending on matchups, but his ceiling likely won't be as high as it was with Fitzpatrick.
After showing flashes last season, Gesicki is off to a strong start in 2020. His 281 receiving yards are second on the Dolphins, and he has 18 receptions and two touchdowns.
Gesicki is the TE11 in fantasy, meaning he is a borderline starter. That distinction means he could be hurt the most in fantasy terms by Tua's promotion among anyone other than Fitz.
Tight end is a volatile fantasy position as it is, and it becomes even more volatile when there is a rookie quarterback involved.
It wouldn't be surprising to see Tua finding a connection with Gesicki and utilizing him as a safety valve, but without seeing Tagovailoa take more than a few snaps this season, it is impossible to say who he will look toward most often.
For fantasy players comfortable rostering two tight ends, Gesicki is still worth having, but it may be best to leave him on the bench until Tua's tendencies become clear.
Gesicki wasn't a surefire starter even with Fitzpatrick under center, and the uncertainty becomes even greater.