Jeff Wilson Jr. Fantasy Outlook: Can He Produce in a Crowded Miami Dolphins Backfield?

    The Miami Dolphins have a relatively packed RB corps, and veteran Jeff Wilson Jr. might be the wild card. What is his fantasy outlook in 2023?

    At PFN, we’ve researched more than 350 fantasy football players, trying to identify which ones are overrated, underrated, and priced right. With that in mind, here is Miami Dolphins RB Jeff Wilson Jr.’s fantasy outlook for 2023.

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    Jeff Wilson Jr.’s 2023 Fantasy Outlook

    In 2021, Miami had five running backs: Myles Gaskin, Duke Johnson, Salvon Ahmed, Phillip Lindsay, and Malcolm Brown. Only one of them averaged better than 3.8 yards per carry. As a team, they netted 3.6 ypc — second-worst in the league.

    And when the franchise turned the page in 2022, they began making moves to signal an all-in commitment to an AFC East title run — and perhaps more. Part of that plan included remaking their backfield, beginning with underrated journeyman Raheem Mostert and the enigmatic Chase Edmonds. Both had shined over the years. This RB corps looked set.

    But while Mostert looked good in a Miami uniform, Edmonds flopped. The team made a calculated decision to jettison him in favor of Jeff Wilson Jr. The move worked. Wilson became an invaluable complement to Mostert, and the two finally gave the Dolphins a backfield they could feel proud of.

    But Miami’s savvy enough to understand that the often-injured Mostert is now 31 years old. Wilson will turn 28 in November. This team doesn’t want to be forced to overwork one if the other gets hurt. They needed more depth. So they made another calculated decision, this time selecting Devon Achane in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft.

    Achane was their second pick. They clearly wanted him — or at least, they wanted a running back, and he was their top target at that spot. Suddenly, Wilson isn’t merely a two-headed RBBC fantasy option. There’s a risk that this could turn into a three-headed backfield … or possibly the dreaded “hot-hand” situation.

    If there’s any good news, it’s that (a) Achane might not have the size to become an NFL bell cow, (b) despite playing in 16 regular-season games last year, Mostert’s durability concerns are no less real than they have been in previous offseasons, and (c) Wilson historically has played his best football early in games.

    On that last point, Wilson’s averaged 4.7 yards per carry in the first quarter — his best showing. His averages dip only narrowly to 4.6 in the second and third frames. But in the fourth quarter, he’s netted only 3.9 ypc.

    In a vacuum, this might suggest Wilson could seize a plurality of RB touches by looking strong in the opening quarter and (ideally) catching a pass or two by halftime. That could be enough for fantasy managers streaming him in deep leagues, especially if he gets a few more touches after halftime.

    But we can’t analyze this in a vacuum because Mostert’s averaged a whopping 5.8 ypc in the first half, including 6.0 in the opening frame. He’s also been more effective in the receiving game, giving him a leg up on his teammate.

    In the end, there are no distinct advantages for Wilson entering 2023. A long-term injury to Mostert certainly could push him into top-35 consideration, or perhaps a bit better if Achane isn’t ready to handle 1B duties.

    But with everyone at full health, Wilson is little more than a piece of the puzzle. He’s not objectively “better” than Mostert, and even Achane (50 receptions in his last 22 college games) might be the favored pass catcher out of the backfield.

    We’re left with a very good running back in a crowded, capable RB corps. As a workhorse, Wilson could be a weekly fantasy starter. But that’s not why the Dolphins brought him in, and it’s probably not in the cards in 2023. As a result, he’s little more than a hedge in the event Mostert misses time and Achane flops.

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