Camp Battles Miami RB Arian Foster vs Jay Ajayi

By Mike Beacom
Mike Beacom Just when it looked like fresh legs would win the job, a hobbled veteran has muddied the competition.

Lamar Miller had been the Dolphins lead back the past few seasons, with numbers good enough to make him a No. 1 back in most fantasy leagues. But he moved on and Miami is trying to fill a hole for a team that will thrive on defense and ball control. It’s a good formula for whoever steps in. Fantasy owners are asking: Is it second-year Jay Ajayi? Or Damien Williams? Or will it be former Houston Texans stud Arian Foster, who is returning from an injury that some figured would keep him out of the game for good.

Why Foster is your best bet: Foster has gained 1,200 or more yards rushing in four of the past six seasons. Obviously the concern is his health – it robbed him of a dozen games last year, and half the 2013 season. But right now camp reports indicate Foster looks healthy, while Ajayi is nursing a bum knee. Foster’s torn Achilles is still a question mark, but recent comments suggest that makes him the favorite, even if the depth chart doesn’t suggest so at present. Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen said “We don't want to substitute... We really need one guy to be a three-down back…” That comment sounds like an endorsement of Foster.

Why it’s Ajayi: He’s the Dolphins’ top returning rusher, so experience counts here. And Ajayi was much better for Miami than his 3.8 yard average suggests. His opportunities were limited playing behind Miller, but he was effective a few weeks as a receiver (52 yards against the Jets in late November) and he showed enough promise to be named the expected starter this offseason before (and after) Foster signed. He has good power and fresh legs (2015 fifth round pick) and at Boise State had more, than 4,000 yards from scrimmage in his final two season combined. He deserves at least a crack at the full-time gig.

Don’t forget about: Kenyan Drake
The Dolphins invested a third round pick in the former Alabama back who lived in Derrick Henry’s shadow. He never reached 100 carries in any of his four seasons with the Crimson Tide, but he was productive with what he had to work with, and last season caught 29 passes.

Who fantasy owners should pull for: Foster
The easy choice is always the ‘known.’ Fantasy owners know what Arian Foster can be, and at his best Foster was among the best fantasy backs in the game. He probably cannot be that in Miami, but he can certainly be a top 15 back. Hard to say if Ajayi or the other Miami backs have a ceiling that high.

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