Picking the right piece of ambiguous backfields can be one of the biggest advantages in fantasy football. People who sided with Rhamondre Stevenson, Tony Pollard, and Jerick McKinnon last year know exactly what I mean, as those three were probably on a lot of championship teams. People who sided with Damien Harris, Ezekiel Elliott, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire also know what I mean, for the exact opposite reason. This year, is there a tougher backfield to figure out than the one in Miami? Raheem Mostert was the lead guy last year, with Jeff Wilson providing a handful of useful fantasy weeks. Now, third round pick Devon Achane joins the party. Here are my thoughts on whether you should hang on to Achane and hope he beats out those above him, or if you should move him in hopes of getting more immediate production.
REASON TO BUY
McDaniel’s Preferred Archetype
Devon Achane’s success up to this point and moving forward will come largely from one thing. Speed. He was the fastest running back at this year’s combine and finished behind just two players in the entire class. You know who else had elite 40-yard dash times? Raheem Mostert and Elijah Mitchell, who were the leading rushers of the last two Mike McDaniel offenses. McDaniel has nearly mastered the wide zone run scheme, which best accentuates the speed rushers he has had. This bodes well for Achane’s outlook in the Miami offense.
A third round pick isn’t necessarily “elite” draft capital, but it is certainly nothing to scoff at in the running back world. In each of the past three drafts, only three running backs have been selected prior to the third round, with seven others (Achane not included) going in the third round. Of the seven third round picks, and of the four that have played snaps in the NFL, two of them have already seen a significant role in their team’s offense. Typically, a team won’t use a day two pick on a running back unless they plan on giving them at least a chance to have a worthwhile role on the team. What also helps Achane’s outlook is the fact that both Mostert and Wilson have potential outs in their contracts after this season, which could open the door for Achane to become the feature back in as little as a year.
REASON TO SELL
Remember when I talked about the four third round running backs who have played NFL snaps from the past three draft classes? Well, one of the two that hasn’t been successful is Trey Sermon. Drafted by San Francisco (whose offensive coordinator at the time was McDaniel), Sermon was cut from the team in his first season after being surpassed by fellow rookie and sixth round pick Elijah Mitchell. This shows that McDaniel is more than willing to move on from higher draft capital in favor of better players. If Mostert and Wilson control a significant amount of the workload this season, the Dolphins could easily move on from Achane like San Francisco did with Sermon.
Slight Frame’s Lack of Proven Success
I want you to listen to this next stat closely, because it is very important. Since 2013, not a single running back under 200 pounds has had multiple top-25 fantasy seasons. That means, in the past 10 seasons, no sub-200 pound running back has had more than one RB2 or better season. That is NOT a good sign for Achane. What makes matters even worse is that he isn’t even close to the 200 pound threshold. He weighed in at the NFL combine at 188 pounds. There are only 15 running backs in that time frame to weigh in at less than 188 pounds, and the only somewhat relevant name of those is Tarik Cohen. History is meant to be broken, but it is also a very good baseline for what to expect.
If you were a bottom tier team who was able to get Achane in the early second round, I would consider holding onto him in hopes that he is able to overtake Mostert and Wilson in the next year or two. Your team is likely not close to competing anyway, so you can afford to wait on him.
If you were a top tier team and grabbed him at the end of the first round, I would be looking to move him for someone who can help you immediately. If you could trade him for someone like Joe Mixon, Aaron Jones, or even a lower upside but immediate producer like Isiah Pacheco, I would make the move and try to go all in on a championship run while your team is at its peak. Achane is a tough call, but I would base your decision more on how your team is sitting instead of him and his situation.