In 2019, the Miami Dolphins ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,156 yards. This is no surprise as Miami’s offensive line ranked 32nd in the NFL and traded Kenyan Drake to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional fifth-round draft pick. Sure, some players stepped up in his absence like Mark Walton and, to a lesser extent, Patrick Laird, but Miami’s rushing attack was dreadful. So dreadful, that 37-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team in both yards (243) and touchdowns (4).
So, how will the Dolphins’ running backs fare with a revamped offensive line, Tua Tagovailoa, and the addition of Chan Gailey?
Under Chan Gailey
Fred Jackson paced for 334 tch (62 rec), 2202 YFS, 10 TDs (2011)
CJ Spiller = actually a thing – 250 tch (43 rec), 1703 YFS, 8 TDs ('12)
Chris Ivory lead AFC in rush yds – 1287 YFS, 7 TDs on 277 tch (30 Rec)
Do Jordan Howard & Matt Breida have sneaky upside?
— Wolf of Roto Street (@RotoStreetWolf) June 4, 2020
Before we get into what to expect from the Dolphins running backs, we must first examine Miami’s revamped offensive line.
After finishing dead last in the NFL, Dolphins GM Chris Grier had a plan, and he fulfilled that plan this offseason. First, the Dolphins landed two starters via free agency in center Ted Karras and guard Ereck Flowers. Karras has familiarity with head coach Brian Flores from his time in New England. And although he’s not a massive upgrade over Daniel Kilgore, he’s someone that Miami felt highly of.
Then there’s Flowers, the former 2015 first-round draft pick of the New York Giants. Flowers’ career got off to a rocky start at tackle before sliding inside and playing guard with Washington in 2019. Flowers looked much improved at guard, which ultimately landed him a 3-year, $30-million deal with the Dolphins. The addition of Flowers should immediately upgrade the left side of the Dolphins’ offensive line and bring veteran leadership to a group that should see quite a few rookies start in 2020.
Speaking of rookies, Miami drafted USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson with the 18th-overall pick. Jackson, who many believe is only scratching the surface of his talent, could be asked to play sooner than later. And as of now, could be the Dolphins’ starting left tackle in 2020.
They followed it up with Louisiana-Lafayette’s Robert Hunt with the 39th overall pick. Hunt, who played well at guard could be Miami’s long-term answer at right tackle, though nothing has been decided. The Dolphins also drafted Georgia guard Solomon Kindley with the 111th overall pick.
The added pieces on the Dolphins’ offensive line should be a considerable upgrade over the dismal unit we saw in 2020.
Without looking it up, if I told you Jordan Howard was only 25-years old, would you believe me? What if I told you he ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards since 2016?
Surprisingly enough, both of those statements are 100% true. And as we saw before he suffered a shoulder injury that would linger for most of the 2019 season, Howard still has the goods to be one of the more effective runners in all of football.
— josh houtz (@houtz) March 18, 2020
As you can see, Howard is a decisive running back that powers through holes. He’s also sneaky quick and can make runners miss in the open field. But what he takes pride in most, is being able to truck through opposing defenders.
“I’d describe my running style as rugged, pretty physical. I like to make the defenders feel me. I’d rather hit them than they hit me. I definitely try to make them quit, that way by the fourth quarter, they don’t really want to tackle.”
Ironically enough, Howard will wear the #34 in Miami and rock a dark visor similar to the great Ricky Williams. No, I don’t expect him to carry the workload like Ricky or even have similar success, but he could be a sneaky play for the Dolphins in fantasy this year.
According to FantasyData.com, Howard’s ADP is 118.6, which makes him RB45.
Where I do think most of Howard’s value could come from is goal-line work, which he should be Miami’s primary back assuming Kalen Ballage doesn’t emerge from the loaded backfield. This means that Howard’s number will be called upon early and often.
If history is any indication, Gailey’s offense could produce two of fantasy’s most undervalued running backs.
If Howard is the thunder in Miami’s rushing attack, Matt Breida is without a doubt, the lightning.
Breida, to me, seems a lot like Reggie Bush, who the Dolphins also acquired via trade several years ago. Both players have elite speed and can make highlight-reel plays every time they touch the football. Like Howard, Breida feels like he’s been around for decades, but at only 25-years-old, his best football is still ahead.
— josh houtz (@houtz) May 20, 2020
Many were surprised when Miami decided to pass on 2020’s loaded rookie class. The one that hurt the most, in my opinion, was watching J.K Dobbins come off the board one pick earlier to the Ravens. However, the Dolphins quickly made a phone call to the San Francisco 49ers and acquired Breida to compliment Howard. Here’s what Flores had to say about Breida.
As far as Matt (Breida) the player, this is a very explosive, young running back with good vision and can create a lot of big plays. But he’s also tough, he’s also smart, he also has a lot of the qualities that we’re looking for in our players. It was an exciting phone call to have with him and can’t want to get him out here.”
Currently, Breida’s ADP is 95, which ranks him as RB37 overall. It also means he is being drafted ahead of Jordan Howard, which seems appropriate when you factor in his ability to be a valuable asset in the passing game.
Breida to me is the favorite to see the most touches in 2020. Not only could you argue he’s a better fit in Gailey’s four-wide receiver, spread ’em out offense, but he has the big-play ability that Howard and others lack.
Redraft, Best Ball, Daily, or Dynasty?
Long term, I wouldn’t feel confident acquiring any Dolphins RB in dynasty formats. However, in redraft, best ball, and daily, Breida and Howard both have the potential to help you win your fantasy leagues without paying a premium.
As we’ve discussed, history shows that Gailey can get the most out of his running backs. In a spread system that implements a ton of RPO, both Howard and Breida should get plenty of opportunities to make plays in the open field.
Jordan Howard? Matt Breida? In a PPR league, I’d lean towards Breida. I think what he brings to the Dolphins as both a runner and receiver, can pay dividends. However, if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, Howard could be the play.
Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, the Dolphins rushing attack should be much improved in 2020. And that should not only result in better results on the field but better results for your fantasy football team.
Run Howard/Breida Run.