by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We keep trying to figure out what the Dolphins are doing in their backfield, as they have seemingly misused Lamar Miller since the day he was drafted. The hope had been that he would be featured after the coaching change and, to an extent, he was including a 20 carry performance on December 6 (he took those for 113 yards).
Of course his usage has decreased in the two subsequent games:
- December 14 – 12 carries (he took them for 89 yards and 2 TD, making the usage that much more curious)
- December 20 – 9 carries
After the game Adam Beasley tweeted:
“No wonder Lamar Miller was biting his tongue last night. He had EIGHTEEN snaps from scrimmage. Ajayi had 31.”
It’s not like Ajayi got more touches, with just 6 carries for 27 yards and 1 TD, though as we know you can’t get an opportunity if you are not on the field. With the Dolphins’ season over, for all intents and purposes, and Miller set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season it actually would make sense for the team to see what their rookie running back brings to the table.
Remember Ajayi was initially thought of as one of the better running back prospects, but long-term concerns about his knee sent him spiraling down draft boards. Prior to the draft NFL.com posted the following quote from an “AFC scout in charge of grading running backs:
“Of all the backs in this draft, Ajayi might be my favorite because he can do everything you want from a back and you don’t have to find a complementary back to pick up the slack for him in any one area.”
With the potential to be a three-down back, knowing that Ajayi can fill the starting RB role for 2016 would allow the Dolphins to allocate assets elsewhere. Obviously a few games isn’t going to fully answer the question, but it could at least give the team (and fantasy owners) an idea.
Don’t be surprised if he operates as the featured running back (or at least in a timeshare). While he’s not a player to start, he’s certainly one to watch.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com