This appears to be the week every fantasy football degenerate dreams of – the one after an undrafted rookie running back breaks out. There were signs in front of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers indicating Miami running back Salvon Ahmed may be leaned on, so he’s not universally available anymore, but this is one of my rare in-season articles that may also be relevant for dynasty owners.
For starters, who is this guy? He was actually Myles Gaskin’s backup throughout college at the University of Washington. This relatively new Miami regime has apparently developed a cross-country pipeline extending to Seattle. He was a four-star local recruit that bided his time spelling Gaskin before being given a shot to carry the load in 2019. Hype built leading up to the season as he was billed as the fastest offensive player in the Pac-12. There were some good moments but he was far too inconsistent (five games of 50 yards or less) on a mediocre Washington team, so when considering the COVID-affected offseason it’s of no surprise April’s draft came-and-went without him being selected.
Then as the ole’ saying goes – luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. He might not have been on anyone’s mind in our game in October, but when his number was called in Arizona Week 9 he delivered. His performance was so strong that despite Matt Breida’s balky hamstring keeping him out another game, Miami healthy scratched Jordan Howard. Ahmed’s follow up performance was then strong enough to justify giving Howard his release papers on Monday. We all in this game love a good undrafted rookie breakout running back story, but how sustainable of a commodity is he?
Let’s start off with the bigger picture in Miami. The team is 3-0 since Tua Tagovailoa took over after its Week 7 bye. Miami has actually ripped off five straight wins and have scored at least 23 points in every game since the opener. A good offense on a winning team are generally good ingredients to start with when trying to determine if a running back is a viable option. Miami’s next three opponents have a combined five wins between them, two of the three (New York Jets, Cincinnati) are in the Bottom 10 in fantasy points against opposing running backs, and the other (Denver) has yielded five straight double-digit performances. Neither of the other running backs on the roster (Matt Breida and DeAndre Washington) are justifiable threats to Ahmed’s workload given what he’s done the last two weeks and Gaskin cannot be activated from Injured Reserve until at least Week 12. Then consider that his absence was described as ‘at least three weeks’ and that Week 12 opponent is the Jets and there’s a reasonable probability Miami is conservative with bringing him back. Miami has an important stretch of games Week 14-16 (Kansas City, New England, Las Vegas) so the most likely scenario is Miami splitting the work between Ahmed and Gaskin against Cincinnati.
All of the above leaves me thinking, Ahmed is a viable starter for at least the next three weeks, and given how his skill-set complements Gaskin, he could continue to be useful even after Gaskin returns. As mentioned at the beginning, Ahmed was prone to bouts of inconsistency but he has the skills and traits of an electric play-maker. That is not exactly how I’d describe Gaskin’s game. He’s much more of a traditional running back who wins with a combination of vision, balance and toughness but without the size to withstand a featured back’s workload. The two of them individually are flawed players, but when put together possess the ingredients for an intriguing 1-2 combo. Given those tough matchups during fantasy playoffs the unfortunate reality is each may be low upside flex plays, but there is a popular saying in our game – skill gets you to the playoffs, but luck gets you through. So, do you feel lucky … punk? Well, do you?
This week’s Flavor of the Week: Stuffing.
It isn’t something I think about 49 weeks a year, but as the final leaves fall in mid-November that short term craving hits. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that homemade stuffing is the glue that holds the entire meal together. Then leftovers fulfill a similar role until its useful life finally runs out as we turn the page into December. That’s how I would approach Ahmed – he’s going to deliver the goods for the next 2-3 weeks. Anything on top of that would be just gravy.