Sannes' Win Total Projections: How the Tyreek Hill Trade Impacts the Dolphins and Chiefs
Well. That escalated quickly.
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
Hill is signing a four-year deal with massive guarantees, meaning this is all very real. And so is the impact it has on the AFC.
Let's dig into what this all means for 2022 through the lens of my power rankings, outlining both how far it dips the Chiefs and whether it pushes the Dolphins to being legit contenders.
How Far Do We Bump Miami?
I was already worried about my projected passing efficiency for the Dolphins before this. They also signed left tackle Terron Armstead overnight, plugging a key hole and aiding what was previously a massive weakness. It was a big upgrade; I just didn't want to go too far in elevating expectations.
Now, things are looking a little scary.
Last year, the Dolphins finished 18th in schedule-adjusted passing efficiency, according to numberFire's metrics. Part of that sample included the Jacoby Brissett starts, though. Tua Tagovailoa averaged 0.01 EPA per drop back, according to Next-Gen Stats, compared to Brissett's mark of -0.15. So there was already a projected bump coming under the assumption Tagovailoa was the full-fledged starter.
Once you take that adjusted number and bake in the additions of Armstead and Hill, the Dolphins are suddenly projected to rank 13th in passing efficiency this year by my numbers, and they're not that far outside the top 10. Given that projected passing efficiency is the portion that my model weighs most heavily, any tweaks there have massive ramifications.
As a result, the Dolphins now sit 14th in my power rankings, importantly ahead of the New England Patriots for second in the AFC East. They're still well below the Buffalo Bills -- more in them in the next section -- but it's a meaningful shift.
If you want a more concrete example of this shift, my current win total projections (before accounting for byes/travel/rest) have the Dolphins at 9.2 wins. That's up from 8.2 on March 18th, when I first plugged in each team's schedule. One win doesn't sound like a lot, but it truly is in terms of baseline expectations for a team. They're a lot more dangerous now than they were a week ago.
As of now, FanDuel Sportsbook has the Dolphins and Patriots both at +400 to win the AFC East. I'm not betting either because the Bills are so far in front of the pack.
What it does tell me, though, is that I'm likely to be higher on the Dolphins and lower on the Patriots once win totals are posted. I've got a half-win difference between the two teams, so they're not quite on equal footing. These two teams will be high on my radar to check once we have those win totals available.
It's true that Tagovailoa disappointed last year, and his upside may be limited by arm talent. But adding Armstead and Hill -- and giving him that much speed at receiver -- is a massive shift in his supporting cast. Environment matters so much for quarterbacks, and Tagovailoa now has one of the better situations in the league.
We can remain skeptical, but this is a team for which we need to elevate our expectations and bake in the possibility that they show more of a ceiling than they seemed to have last year.
Where the Chiefs Now Stand
This entire offseason, the Chiefs have been first in my AFC power rankings. The Bills had shorter Super Bowl odds, but my numbers had the Chiefs as the better team on a neutral field.
That's no longer the case.
I believe in Patrick Mahomes as much as anybody else. But as mentioned, supporting cast matters for quarterbacks. And his just got a lot worse.
Back in 2019, Hill missed four games for the Chiefs due to injury. If we lump that in with 2020 and 2021, we get a sample of 1,339 drop backs for Mahomes with Hill versus 458 without him.
Here are Mahomes' splits with and without Hill in that three-year span, via Next-Gen Stats. Passing Success Rate is the percentage of drop backs with a positive EPA, and aDOT is the average number of air yards per throw.
|Mahomes From 2019 to 2021||EPA/DB||Pass. Success %||aDOT|
Mahomes was still a very good quarterback without Hill. His 0.12 EPA per drop back is equivalent to what Justin Herbert did as a rookie or Tom Brady did last year. It's just not quite the cyborg-level nonsense he has done with Hill.
As such, we have to project a decline from the Chiefs' passing offense in 2022. They'll definitely add more to their receiver room before the end of the offseason, but they're not fully replacing Hill.
Making that adjustment pushes the Chiefs from second in my power rankings down to fourth. Critically, that's behind the Bills, so I'm now more aligned with the sportsbooks in that arena.
But more importantly, they now have a lower win total projection than the Los Angeles Chargers. I've been moaning about how high my numbers are on the Chargers for weeks now, and this certainly isn't helping matters.
That's not because I have the Chargers ranked higher; they're fifth. But they have an easier schedule after finishing third in the division last year, and that translates to 10.4 wins for them versus 10.1 for the Chiefs. The Denver Broncos are hot on their heels at 10.0, as well.
Again, this will all change. The Chiefs will help make up for some of the loss of Hill. But they're in danger of letting the AFC West be a three-horse race -- possibly four if Davante Adams gives the Las Vegas Raiders a bigger lift than I'm currently projecting.
Despite the Hill trade, you can still get the Chargers at +240 to win the AFC West. After flirting with that market this whole time, I'm finally willing to pull the trigger. It has shortened from +260, but that's not big enough movement to account for this trade. The Chargers are undervalued to win that division right now.
Again, this is not due to a lack of faith in Mahomes. If I doubted him at all, the Chiefs would be even lower than fourth in the power rankings. It's just an acknowledgement that context matters for quarterbacks, and Mahomes' just got worse with Hill taking his turbo boosters to South Beach.