Like all people approaching retirement age, Frank Gore is moving to Florida.
The 34 year-old has decided to play in his 14th(!) NFL season, and he joins his hometown Miami Dolphins on a one-year contract. Gore brings plenty of experience to the team, as he’ll likely appear in his 200th game during the 2018 season (he has appeared in 196 to this point).
At the time of writing, Frank Gore will be the de facto backup to Kenyan Drake. The Dolphins also added Kalen Ballage in the draft. Time will tell how the land will settle for Gore, but for now, let’s take a look at his situation and what he will bring to the Dolphins and fantasy owners.
For this analysis, let’s pretend that Frank Gore is still the third-down back/backup RB for the Dolphins to start 2018. Bearing that in mind, here’s how I feel he fits in.
Gore’s Fantasy Impact
First things first, Frank Gore is an indestructible tank of a man.
He has now played in all 16 games in every season since 2010, and he sits at an incredible 107 consecutive games played. Over the course of those seven 16-game seasons, he has finished as the RB # 13, 11, 13, 16, 11, 12, and 20 consecutively. He has lived in the RB2 realm with marked consistency. He has a career 4.3 YPC which is decent considering his straight-forward running style.
There is value in consistency, it’s true. Gore has been a guy you can plug in when you’re in a pinch, and he’ll give you an 8-point performance more often than not. In 2017 he averaged 9 fantasy points per game despite playing for a lousy offense.
So… he’s worth owning in case Drake goes down, right?
Well, probably not. He’s going to warrant ownership from desperate fantasy owners if he somehow ends up the starter. But that’s a waiver move at best. He’d be a terrible use of a fantasy draft pick. If Gore is still the expected backup in the preseason, he’ll likely be a guy that gets taken at the very tail-end of the draft, maybe Round 13 or later (if he’s taken at all).
Rounds 12-15 are where you go and get sleepers, not soon-to-be-35-year-old backups with a 65-yard ceiling. You want to be targeting potential: rookies, talented backups, handcuffs, that sort of thing.
Kenyan Drake Impact
What’s perhaps a little more intriguing about the Gore acquisition is the impact that this has on Kenyan Drake. Especially after the departure of Damien Williams.
When Jay Ajayi got traded to the Eagles, it was a mad scramble to scoop up either Kenyan Drake or Damien Williams. Drake ended up being the guy, but Williams made Drake owners sweat with two double-digit fantasy point games before suffering a shoulder injury. So Williams was potentially going to be a player that would challenge Drake for carries in 2018 had the Dolphins re-signed him.
Once it became clear that the Dolphins were moving on from Williams, Drake’s value largely depended on who they would put behind him. To that end, Frank Gore is an ideal replacement.
Gore might be stalwart, but he’s not going to threaten Drake’s playing time on skill alone. He’s not offering anything that Drake doesn’t already provide, Drake is faster and can get to the outside better than Gore. Also, in an offense that is extremely thin on pass-catchers, they are not going to be trotting out old man Gore over Kenyan Drake to run Flat or Sit routes.
Drake will be a lock for early-down work, and he’s a strong candidate for a three-down workload. With the Dolphins’ diminished receiver corps and a lack of a decent TE, he’ll also likely be called on for some receiving duties. All of this moves the needle on Drake slightly higher, and he’s slowly moving from a fringe RB1 to a solid RB1.
Dolphins Draft Outlook
The Gore acquisition could slightly move the needle on Miami’s draft needs. They now have a backup RB, and they don’t need to necessarily look at drafting a high-level guy to instantly fill that role anymore. They may still elect to do so, but it’s not as critical a need as it was previously. The Dolphins can now potentially sit back and take an RB later in the 2018 draft, as they have several other needs (QB, DT, LB, TE) that could be addressed in the first 3-4 rounds. They should be drafting based on their needs, as this is not a team that’s good enough to entertain a “best available player” approach.
There’s some great depth in the RB position in the 2018 draft. So the ‘Fins could very well wait and take a guy like Kalen Ballage, Arkum Wadley or Josh Adams to try to develop behind Drake and Gore. That gives them the freedom to target Mayfield, Vea, Goeddert, and some of the other names the Dolphins have been attached to in the past month.
Bottom line, with just two running backs on the roster, the Dolphins will be in play for another RB, but I highly doubt it will be someone who will challenge Drake for playing time. There’s a much better chance that whoever they acquire can leapfrog Gore.
Gore is not a guy I’m owning in 2018. You can call me ageist and lump me in with the herd of people who don’t believe in him despite his steady play. That’s fine.
There are going to be plenty of Frank Gore truthers out there who will tell you that drafting him could be the smartest move you make. They’ll remind you of Gore’s 36-carry game from 2017 when they say he’s still got juice in the tank. They’ll sell you tales of older RB breakouts like Justin Forsett and DeAngelo Williams.
Take it from me, a 2017 Jamaal Charles truther, it’s just not in the cards for him. He only carries minimal value as a handcuff. A value which could evaporate quickly if Ballage impresses the coaching staff.
I’d much rather invest in a rookie RB (Sony Michel, Ronald Jones II, Rashaad Penny), or even a backup in a better offense (Spencer Ware, Austin Ekeler, Donnell Pumphrey). Frank Gore should be commended for his stellar career, but it’s coming to an end both in real life and fantasy.
As it stands right now, I’d rank Frank Gore around RB55, with Drake sitting as my RB17.