by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There had been rumors seemingly the entire offseason that tied Arian Foster to the Miami Dolphins, but they finally came to fruition yesterday as he signed a one-year contract. The question facing fantasy owners now is who will be the lead back in Miami? Will it be Foster? Will it be sophomore Jay Ajayi?
At this point it’s impossible to know for sure, though the signing of Foster will surely make Ajayi a more intriguing option on draft day. Wait, what? No it’s not a typo, as the more the focus shifts away from Ajayi the more valuable he will likely become.
Remember Foster will turn 30 prior to the start of the season and is working his way back from a torn Achilles. That’s simply not a good combination and it is impossible to know if he is even capable of returning to the type of player he once was. As it is he was averaging a meager 2.6 yards per carry in his four games last season and has only twice played a full 16 game season (the last time coming in 2012).
Will Foster be productive when he’s on the field?
Will Foster even be able to stay on the field?
Those are two questions you never want associated with a player, especially an aging running back. There is no doubt that Ajayi is going to play a significant role, for no other reason than to try and keep Foster healthy. At the same time the second year player has been getting rave reviews all offseason, though there has been one glaring issue.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald recently reported (click here for the article):
“Jay Ajayi has dropped a few out of the backfield, despite his success doing that at Boise State. He said that route running and working on his receiving skills will be a priority for him during the next month. I’m not overly concerned because he was a good receiver out of the backfield at Boise.”
Combine that with this quote from Foster, courtesy of the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley (click here for the article):
“I think [Dolphins coach] Adam [Gase[ really knows how to use running backs out of the backfield, which I feel like is my best quality – route running and catching the ball out of the backfield,” Foster said. “I think he knows how to steer the ship. I’m just happy to be a part [and] have a seat on the boat now.”
Could this ultimately develop into a situation where Ajayi operates as the early down back and Foster more as the third down/change of pace runner? In this day of running back committees it certainly makes sense.
As of yesterday Ajayi’s average ADP had fallen to 57.3, the 23rd running back coming off the board. Given the signing we’d anticipate that number dropping even more, meaning he will likely be available in the seventh or eighth round (if not later). At that price and with his potential, that’s an absolute steal. While Foster has name appeal, there are obvious questions and he’s unlikely going to be the player he once was. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking the player who could easily be the superior back at this point in their careers.
Sources – ESPN, Miami Herald, Fantasy Pros