The Dolphins have lost Kenyan Drake to a foot injury and while he could be ready for Week 1 it’s far from a guarantee. That brings potential value for fantasy owners, especially those who are looking to plug a hole for a few weeks (especially as the holdouts of Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliot continue to drag on). Let’s take a look at who may become strong options:
He appears to be the most likely benefactor, though the 2018 fourth round draft pick didn’t do much in his rookie season. Playing in 12 games he got just 36 carries and picked up 9 receptions, totaling 247 yards and 1 TD. Of course the numbers were skewed by one 75 yard run, which makes them look significantly better than they were (you take that out and he had 172 yards on 44 touches).
Don’t forget that there were questions about his ability to be a top running back prior to the draft, as NFL.com said the following:
Ballage looks great on the hoof and should test well at the Combine, but his lack of decisiveness and vision make it hard to envision him as a full-time RB1. Ballage can do a little of this and a little of that, but a team will need to have a clear-cut plan for how to use him. Ballage’s size and athletic ability will appeal to teams as will his ability to play on third downs and return kicks.
Maybe he does assume “lead” back duties, but it seems like he’s hard to trust regardless of how long Drake is sidelined. Obviously he can change the narrative with a strong preseason, but for now let’s not get too excited.
Also a 2018 fourth round pick (by the Bengals), Walton got even fewer opportunities in his rookie season (14 carries in 14 games). Granted the Bengals had a deep depth chart with Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, but Walton faced similar questions as to his ability to be the lead back for an NFL team (courtesy of NFL.com):
Walton is a fluid combo back with the ability to compete for committee carries and third down snaps. His 2016 tape gives a better indication of his quickness since he was nursing an ankle injury for much of the time he played this year. His indecisiveness as an interior runner should be taken into account when offensive coordinators decide to use him. Walton has the ability to become a solid backup who can handle a heavier touch load over smaller stretches if needed.
Could they prove to be solid complimentary backs? Perhaps, but that leaves neither with enough touches to make a real impact.
A seventh round rookie, there are questions about his size and ability to transition to the NFL game. It’s going to take time for him to learn, especially from a blocking perspective, and it’s impossible to envision him vaulting atop the depth chart. He’ll be a committee option, but nothing more.
It’s possible that Ballage or Walton emerge at the top of the depth chart for the short-term and either would be worth a late round gamble. That said neither appear likely to supplant Drake, once healthy, and would fall right back into a secondary role (and even in his absence neither may get enough touches to warrant using). Barring a change in Drake’s outlook neither offer significant upside and could become disposable quickly.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 preseason rankings: