Fantasy Impact of the Jay Ajayi Trade
By Rocco Minsk The second major “WHAT??!!” of the NFL trade deadline season was uttered upon reading the news of the Jay Ajayi trade. The point of this article is not to second guess the propriety of this trade (what were the Dolphins’ thinking???!!) but to examine the fantasy fallout the trade and there are two pieces to that.
The first is the impact on the Dolphins. Ajayi had been a frustrating RB1 this season due to his lack of his involvement in the passing game. Essentially, any role that would have gone to Ajayi was given to Jarvis Landry. That was always puzzling as Ajayi had 50 catches in 2014, his last year at Boise State and always profiled as a dual threat out of the backfield. This season, Ajayi had 14 catches so far for a paltry 67 yard yards. One can argue that Adam Gase is simply not a big believer in using his backs out of the backfield in the passing game, but looking back to 2013, and the season where he began to make his reputation as an offensive wizard, Knowshon Moreno caught 60 passes out of the backfield. Additionally, in 2015 in Chicago, Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford combined to catch 66 passes out of the backfield. So it stands to reason that Gase just simply did not trust Ajayi as a receiver out of the backfield.
The next man up in Miami is Damien Williams, who has failed to make a mark as a rusher in his nearly four seasons in the league. There is a valid reason why he is a career backup, having never averaged more than 3.7 YPC in a season. There is one area where Williams outpaces Ajayi and that is as a receiver. Last season, Williams caught 23 passes out of the backfield with an average of 10.8 yards per reception. Williams does give the Dolphins more of an ability to use the running back as a receiver out of the backfield, but he is simply not an explosive runner out of the backfield nor does he profile as a solid goal line runner. Williams will have some value, especially in PPR leagues, but don’t expect him to be any more than a low-end RB2.
Kenyan Drake is the other option available in Miami this season. He has less of a track record and has been behind Williams on the depth chart this season. Drake has only 10 carries this season, with six of them coming last week in garbage time in a blowout against Baltimore. The early consensus is that Drake is the RB to own here, but I am going to go with Williams given his potential to be a receiver out of the backfield. Drake’s playing time has been almost non-existent this season and if the Dolphins were truly grooming him to be the man out of the backfield, he would have had more than four carries prior to week 8. Behind this line, neither of these guys will be great, but the potential for three catches per game should separate Williams from Drake.
In Philadelphia, this trade will not bring any clarity to a muddled backfield situation, if anything it will only make the situation murkier. LeGarrette Blount has been very good this year, although the Eagles have not been running the ball in the end zone from the red zone. As such, there was not much value in the Eagles backfield to start with and now there are simply more mouths to feed. It would not make sense for the Eagles to completely sit Blount given his integral role in their success thus far so now you are looking at a situation where two running backs split carries on a team that does not throw often to its running backs nor does it go RB heavy in the red zone. If anything Ajayi and Blount may serve to cancel out each other’s value.
In summary, Damian Williams should be added with tempered expectations. Personally, I think you should let someone else make the claim on Drake. Blount and Ajayi should be held, but benched until there is more clarity.