Let’s get one thing straight from the top. Ajayi’s ceiling just got lowered. You don’t sign Foster to a contract full of incentives (it’s a 1 year, $1.5 million pact with another $2 million possible) and expect him to NOT try to obtain a sizable workload.
I’m not talking anything crazy mind you, but the Fins have always been a bit a cautious about their use of their top RB for quite some time now. Just look at Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller. While both showed they could be very productive with the ball in their hands, with Bush averaging 4.7 YPC in his two seasons in Miami, while Miller owns a career YPC of 4.6, neither were ever really given a true “featured back” kind of workload. Both only averaged a mere 13 carries a game for the Fins from 2011-15 as the #1 back. And with the signing of Foster, it seems Miami has no intention of straying from this.
Adam Gase is seen league-wide as a brilliant offensive mind with a knack for getting the most out of his players, and for good reason. A look back at Gase’s offenses since his rise to Offensive Coordinator tells you one thing. This man LOVES to run the football. Even with Peyton Manning’s incredible season in 2013, Gase never lost sight of running the football. Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman combined for 416 carries that season. Then in 2014 Broncos RBs combined for another 403 carries. And last season in Chicago RBs had 424 attempts. If you were worried that the Fins weren’t gonna run it enough to feed both Ajayi and Foster, you can put those fears to bed right here and now.
There is also a very clear pattern with Gase’s use of running backs. He doesn’t tend to saddle his lead RB with 20 carries. He much prefers to spread carries around to 2 or 3 RBs, but also get them involved in the passing game in order to get the ball in his top playmakers’ hands more often. So for those of us who were harboring dreams of 275-300 carries for Ajayi, we should probably pump the breaks a little.
With that in mind Gase has 3 RBs at his disposal the Fins will likely want to see on the field on a consistent basis: Ajayi, Foster and Drake. It’s also pretty clear this will be the pecking order in terms of touches.
Ajayi and Foster are both built in the mold of featured-backs who can pretty much do it all, from pounding the rock, pass-protecting, and catching it out of the backfield. Based on Gase’s former offenses, and the Dolphins’ want to add a 2nd RB to help ease the load from Ajayi, it seems pretty safe to say that Ajayi will get around 225 carries, and perhaps around 15-20 catches. I also expect him to see most of the goal-line carries, as Foster’s injury-history should make the Fins more inclined to saddle Ajayi with such a dangerous area of work. Best-case scenario that should mean Ajayi would probably be a low-end RB1, high-end RB2, which to me is well worth a look in Round 5 with around 1200 total yards and 10 TDs. The good news is that this is indeed where Ajayi has been going in 12 team mocks on Fantasy Football Calculator, so you can fetch him for a fair price.
Foster feels like a safer bet to bring in around 40 catches, an area he’s always been very good at. Even while his rushing stats plummeted (just 2.6 YPC in 2015), he continued to be a very effective receiver out of the backfield, nabbing 22 catches for 227 yards and 2 TDs in 5 games. Foster should also get every opportunity to run it as well. I’d say 160 carries (10 totes a game) is a fair expectation for him. Considering his former effectiveness as a runner, the Fins will likely at least want to kick the tires on that part of his game. In other words expect Foster to see around 200 touches, and perhaps a bit of goal-line work as well. That should put him at around 850-900 yards and 5 TDs, in the conversation for a middling Flex option, or at worst a top-tier backup for when Bye Weeks roll around.
As for Kenyan Drake, he’s more of a guy you’re looking at for Dynasty Leagues. Foster is already 30, so it seems likely the presence of Foster is more as mentor for both him and Ajayi before the duo takes over completely for 2017. I’d expect 50 carries with around 15-20 catches for the rookie, or in other words pass on him in re-draft leagues.