• Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Backfield Breakdown: Miami Dolphins


Miami is famous for its sultry weather, pristine beaches, non-stop nightlife, and Art Deco architecture. Miami is also known for its incredible skyline, diverse culinary scene and its ever burgeoning sports culture. So it's no surprise that the city has a raging love affair with the Dolphins.

The Dolphins project to have one of the toughest schedules this upcoming season as they look to produce the first back-to-back playoff berths since Lamar Smith led the team in rushing. That was 22 years ago for those scoring at home. The 2023-24 Dolphins won't have Lamar Smith but it could be argued that they will go as far as their backfield can carry them. Satisfied their pursuit of RB Dalvin Cook will ultimately prove fruitless, we fantasy managers must now focus on the current depth chart and how best to extract what we're all searching for... fantasy success!
We'll start with the old man of the group, Raheem Mostert. At age 31, Mostert is ancient in running back years. Undrafted out of Purdue the diminutive running back found a home in San Francisco and used his tremendous speed to carve out a role in Kyle Shanahan's diverse scheme. When the 49ers allowed him to reach free agency, he followed Mike McDaniel to South Beach and trumped the higher priced Chase Edmunds for the lead in Miami's backfield where he posted career highs in attempts and rushing yards. Mostert also posted career highs in games played and led all Dolphins running backs in snap percentage. And while he should continue to be a factor the heavy workload took a toll, limiting him to 27 total carries over the season's final four weeks which culminated in an inactive designation during Miami's 34-31 playoff loss to division rival Buffalo.
Leading the team in said playoff loss was veteran Jeff Wilson Jr. Acquired ahead of last year's trade deadline. Wilson is a solid but unspectacular runner who understands McDaniels system. He performed well in eight games totaling 486 yards and four touchdowns. He also scored at least 10 PPR points five times making him a flex-worthy spot starter for fantasy purposes, and the Dolphins saw enough from Wilson to ink him to a two-year contract extension this March.
Speaking of former 49ers. Salvon Ahmed is yet another 49er refugee who Miami relied on during their playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. Ahmed turned his 8 touches into 48 total yards and made it painfully easy to see why he touched the ball just 13 times all season. If the Dolphins are forced to rely on Ahmed for any amount of time they're going to be in trouble. Which leads us to the longest tenured Dolphins running back, Myles Gaskin. Gaskin found some success in Miami catching 90 passes from 2020-2021 but barring injuries fantasy managers shouldn't plan on Gaskin getting a ton of work. At best Gaskin could be a waiver-wire option.
That leaves just rookie Devon Achane. And like Vanessa Williams, we've saved the best for last. Small by NFL Standards, Achane is a fearless inside runner who possesses blazing speed. He has the creativity and burst to create chunk plays and is simply too talented to be confined to gadget duty. Achane is a mismatch out of the backfield and should factor into the passing game right away. Speed has been synonymous with South Beach since Sonny Crockett sped around hunting crooks in his white Ferrari. Now it seems the Ferrari will be the hunted.
Ideally the Dolphins would like for Mostert and Wilson Jr. to continue splitting early down work in much the same way they did last season. In the eight games in which they played together the split was nearly dead even. Wilson totaled 96 touches for 486 yards, while Mostert  had 98 touches for 544 yards. But these two have struggled to stay out of the trainers room their entire careers and that cannot be ignored. And while Achane will never be a workhorse type running back it's just a matter of time before his playbook expands. The rookie possesses serious upside and the fearlessness needed to make plays in the middle of the field.
Bottom line, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are simply place holders. Devon Achane is the horse to back in this race.