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Fantasy Underdog: Mike Gillislee

He is a rookie in a crowded backfield of average talent. He is currently being selected as the 66th running back according to the latest
MyFantasyLeague.com
average draft position rankings for re-draft formats. And he will be a 2013 dynasty owner’s dream value. He is the Miami Dolphins’ newest rock carrying talent,

Mike Gillislee
.

Age: 22 years old.


Twitter Handle: (
@mikescogilly
).


Stat Line: 2012 (Florida Gators): 244 carries, 1,152 rushing yards, 16 receptions, 158 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns.

Fun fact: Gillislee is a Deland, Fla. native who grew up cheering for the Dolphins.
 

The tape shows:
Gillislee has good burst getting through the first wave of defenders, and is patient with his cuts. He also isn’t afraid of contact and always finishes his runs with forward motion.

Gillislee also gives great effort in pass protection and catches the ball well out of the backfield. My only concern is that he swings for the fences too often, which will lead to backfield dancing woes at the NFL level. This is fixable with the right coaching.




His physical skills remind me of … Denver Broncos running back
Knowshon Moreno
coming out of Georgia. Gillislee is the same size, has the same foot speed (4.5), and brings the same third down skill set as Moreno. The main difference between the two is that Gillislee won’t have the kind of pressure and high expectations sitting atop his shoulders that Moreno had heading in to 2009.


His fantasy status and outlook is “running” parallel to …
Indianapolis Colts running back
Vick Ballard
(2012). Like Ballard, Gillislee was drafted late in the fifth round. Like Ballard, Gillislee will be in a depth chart battle with running backs who have cloudy question marks. And like Ballard, Gillislee probably won’t break in to the Top 60 in re-draft formats. 


The coach is saying …
“It looks like he had some good burst out there,” coach Joe Philbin said after the first day of Dolphins rookie minicamp. “He has picked up the offense relatively well so far. He did a good job. He earned his stripes there. When his opportunity came, he took advantage of it well. We liked his productivity. We thought he had a good combination of size and speed.”

Others are saying … “I really like
Mike Gillislee
,” general manager Jeff Ireland said. “He’s got a very good skill set. He catches the ball well and he pass protects. He runs it very well as well.”

“[A] guy that just brings his lunch pail to work every day,” Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp claimed, according to
The
Sun-Sentinel
.
“Extremely hard worker [who] has good lateral quickness. Can get vertical in the hole quick. He’s tough, hard-nosed, can play every down because he can protect on third down. Catches the ball well, and [he] is smart.”

He won’t get much love because … There isn’t enough past production to tickle any owner’s fantasy football fancy – he was not a “special runner” at Florida according to one NFC Scout. Furthermore, most fantasy analysts will be enamored with
Lamar Miller
and his potential as a fantasy starter. Miller is already shooting up draft boards, his re-draft average draft position of 45.94 places him ahead of
Frank Gore
,
Ryan Mathews
, and even Miami’s starter from last season,
Reggie Bush
.

He fits the Dolphins offense because … The Dolphins will utilize the zone-blocking scheme in 2013, a scheme perfect for a patient cut back type runner like Gillislee. In fact, in a recent interview posted to
MiamiDolphins.com
, he responded to a question about a zone blocking play he ran well during rookie minicamp.

“I just love the zone running, I just love zone schemes. Just playing under coach (Brent) Pease at the University of Florida gave me a chance to get used to it … It’s one of my favorite plays.”

The Dolphins will also continue to evolve their aerial attack, something that I suspect the rookie will be a large part of due to his ability to anchor down as a pass blocker in the backfield.

My forecast says … Gillislee will begin the season as a third down option with the potential to move up to top dog rather quickly. If
Daniel Thomas
continues to fumble out slow and ugly production and Miller can’t stay healthy or offer more than
Jerious Norwood
-like production, the former Gator could end up becoming a second half fantasy starter if he progresses at the rate he is capable of progressing at.

You should draft him … In every fantasy format. In bigger re-draft leagues he certainly warrants a 15th or 16th round pick as a fourth or fifth running back depending on your stable of runners. In dynasty rookie draft formats he is safe to select in the late second or early third round.

The bottom line is that fantasy owners can’t and won’t go wrong selecting Gillislee as late as his current value indicates. The problem is that the love isn’t exactly flying his way, making him a true fantasy underdog.  

Thanks for reading!


Eric Huber is a Senior Writer for Fantasysharks.com and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). Email him your thoughts

ehuber@fantasysharks.com

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