In huge breaking news:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 31, 2017
The 1st place, best record in the NFL Philadelphia Eagles have traded for Jay Ajayi and now have to be the prohibitive favorites to come out of the NFC to play in the Superbowl. But that’s real world football stuff and this is a fantasy site, so let’s dig into what this means from that perspective.
Jay Ajayi has been a major disappointment this season after rushing for 1,272 yards in 2016. Through 7 games Ajayi has only rushed for 465 yards averaging 3.4 yards per carry. With this move, Ajayi goes to a team with better run blocking than he’s received thus far, according to Football Outsiders the Eagles rank 21st in Adjusted Line yards compared to the Dolphins who rank 28th. The Eagles also provide more TD scoring opportunity for Ajayi than he’s seen with the Dolphins. The Eagles rank 20th in the NFL with 4 rushing touchdowns while Miami comes in at last in the league with 0 rushing touchdowns in 2017.
The Eagles rushing attack has been respectable utilizing LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement and Kenjon Barner but none of those backs are as talented or as well rounded of a back as Ajayi. Coming out of Boise State most believed that Ajayi had the rushing and pass catching ability to be a true three-down back in the NFL. While with Miami though Ajayi only had 27 receptions in 2016 and was on pace for 32 receptions in 2017. As evidenced by Darren Sproles 71 receptions in 2016 and his 4 receptions per game prior to being lost to injury, the Eagles like to throw to their running backs when they have a back capable of being a weapon out of the backfield.
If you are a Jay Ajayi owner and have been disappointed thus far in the season the future should be much brighter for the rest of 2017 and at least through 2018. If you are a contender and don’t already own Ajayi giving up an early-mid 2018 1st rookie pick is something I’d be comfortable with.
Blount, Smallwood, Clement
LeGarrette Blount was always going to be a short-term play for the Eagles and this doesn’t change that. But this does severely hamper Blount’s fantasy value for 2017. Blount is no longer the lead back in a running back by committee. Though the Eagles liked to use all of their running backs it was Blount who received the majority of the early down and goal line work(even if he only has 2 rushing TDs). At best, going forward Blount should receive some short area and goal line work, but Ajayi will also take some if not most of that usage.
Wendell Smallwood is dead. The dream is over. More than a few of my DFF brethren, myself included, hoped and wished that Smallwood would take the lead back role in Philadelphia. But after several chances this season to stake his claim ultimately Smallwood couldn’t stay healthy or perform well enough to do so. In retrospect, the final nail in Smallwood’s coffin came two weeks ago during the Eagles destruction of Washington. Smallwood ended up seeing no work in the 2nd half after missing two blitz pickups in the 1st half. Last Sunday against San Francisco, in a game the Eagles led by at least two touchdowns nearly the entire 2nd half, Smallwood had 1 rushing attempt. You can cut Smallwood in leagues with 25 or fewer rosters spots.
I’ve grown quite fond of Clement over the season’s first 8 weeks. He runs hard, has good vision and sneaky speed through the hole. Clement was never a player you could really start in leagues with less than 11 starters anyway, now you can’t even start him in those leagues. I’m still going to hold Clement if possible because he should be with the Eagles in 2018 and will be Ajayi’s handcuff.
Kenyan Drake/Damien Williams
Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams should both be picked up in leagues in every format if available on the waiver wire. If forced to pick one to add, I am going to pick up Drake(subject to change). I think we have seen enough of Williams to know that he’s not a dynamic player in any way. He’s a perfectly fine backup. Drake has blazing speed, his 4.45 4o-time is in the 90th percentile. He also is a 3rd round draft pick so the Dolphins did invest significant draft capital on him. Drake also averaged 12.4 yards per reception at Alabama on 46 receptions over three seasons and could be a devasting receiving back in the NFL given the opportunity.
Looking at the waiver availability of both players in my 29 dynasty leagues it’s evident that I won’t have to make that choice since one or the other is owned in most leagues.
Keep checking Twitter today to see if Adam Gase gives any indication as to who his lead back may be going forward. Both running backs will see an uptick in value with Ajayi in Philadelphia.
What a start to the NFL trade deadline! Thanks for reading. Give me a holler on Twitter @DFF_Shane anytime.