I can’t think of any Dolphins regulars who would make terrible fantasy starts this week. That seems obvious against a team such as the New York Jets, whose defense is rated 30th in the NFL (18th against the pass, 32nd against the run).
Chief among the Dolphins must-starts, it would seem, is Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi, who last week ran for 122 yards against the Chargers.
But not so fast, my friend.
Yes, the Jay Train ran well last year against the J-E-T-S, combining for 168 yards and a touchdown in their two games. And New York has allowed an astounding 185 rushing yards per game so far this year in losses to the Bills and Raiders. (And just to be clear, I’m not saying Ajayi is a bad fantasy start this week. He’s not. If I were lucky enough to have drafted him, you bet your sweet bippy he’d be in my lineup.)
But there are several factors working against Ajayi being hugely successful this week.
The first is that this is the Jets, which of course seems like it should weigh in Ajayi’s — or any opponent’s — favor. But consider this: If the Dolphins get out to a big lead, are they going to keep Ajayi in the game any longer than necessary? Probably not.
The more likely scenario would see him ceding some time to Damien Williams and Kenyon Drake, two backups who should both see the field plenty in New York. I could see both cutting into Ajayi’s touches and fantasy numbers, and they could even be viable fantasy contributors themselves in super-deep leagues. (In fact, don’t be surprised if Williams or Drake scores a touchdown on Sunday.) Whatever the case, the Fins coaching staff would like to get them both more snaps than the four combined offensive plays they saw last week.
The other factor is Ajayi’s health. His knee has been a little gimpy this week, thanks, Adam Gase says, to a hit sustained in the Chargers game, and the 24-year-old has missed several days of practice. The third-year back is officially questionable. Gase — and everyone else — fully expects Ajayi to play on Sunday, but you’d have to believe he won’t keep Ajayi in the game any longer than he has to, particularly after 28 tough carries last week.
Similarly, with the Dolphins’ bye week eliminated by Hurricane Irma, the Dolphins will now play 16 weeks straight without a break. The players weren’t particularly happy with this development, but it’s out of their hands. One of the ways the coaching staff plans to deal with the situation is by giving players — like Ajayi and other veterans — small breaks whenever possible. This could well be one of those opportunities if Miami gets out to a comfortable lead against the Jets.
Again, don’t get me wrong. Ajayi will bust out for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and you’ll be ruing the day you read this silly fantasy article. It wouldn’t surprise me.
But the point is this: Even the easiest, most obvious fantasy decisions — like starting a Pro Bowl running back against the worst run defense in the league — don’t work out all the time. And there are a couple of reasons why this one might not.