We’re months away from draft season, but it’s never too early to start looking for fantasy football sleepers and breakout candidates. Whether it’s rookies to watch, running back committees emerging or 2016 studs looking to establish themselves as legitimate stars, there’s plenty to keep an eye on.
1. Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi’s Stock On The Rise
No, unlike Chuck McGill we didn’t go crazy and get our numbers mixed up. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase recently suggested Jay Ajayi could get as many as 350 rushing attempts next season.
3. 5. 0.
After seeing how good he was last season, it makes sense for Miami to want to get the ball in his hands more. According to ProFootballFocus, Ajayi was the third best running back in the NFL last season, ranking first in PFF’s elusive rating metric. He forced 58 missed tackles and gained 3.46 yards after contact, both tops in the league.
As much as he shined in the running game, Ajayi was limited as a pass-catching back. He had just 27 catches and ranked dead last in yards per route run among running backs with 100-plus snaps in route.
Despite those numbers, offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is optimistic things can change heading into 2017:
“Jay (Ajayi) is working hard to be a three-down back,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said at a recent news conference. “His receiving skills are 200 percent better than a year ago today.”
Damien Williams and Kenyon Drake are better receiving options in the back-field so Ajayi likely won’t become a three-down back overnight, but even if he improves to roughly 40 catches instead of 27, that would land him in the top-20 among running backs. With both his head coach and offensive coordinator praising him left and right this offseason, good things are ahead for Ajayi and his fantasy owners.