2017 Miami Dolphins Preview – Jay Ajayi


Jay Ajayi was a breakout star for the Dolphins in 2016, leading the team all the way to the playoffs. He looks to take the team on a deeper run in 2017, taking on an even bigger role.

Jay Ajayi came a long way to becoming the Miami Dolphins primary running back. This time last season, the Dolphins were not yet ready to hand the keys completely over to Ajayi, deciding to bring in veteran Arian Foster alongside. After it was announced that Foster would be the Week 1 starter, Ajayi did not take the news well.

Ajayi was evidently so upset that coach Adam Gase decided that Ajayi would not be allowed to travel with the team to Seattle in the team’s first regular season game. The writing was on the wall for Ajayi’s potential departure from the team, but Ajayi turned things around from there – both mentally and physically.

Just a few weeks into the season, Foster surprisingly, announced his retirement from football. That opened the opportunity for Ajayi to take over the lead role, and he did exactly that. Ajayi finished the season with over 1,200 yards rushing, including three 200-yard games. Heading into training camp this season, there’s no question who the premier starter is this time.

The real question is how much can he do? Gase has already expressed his desire to get Ajayi 350 carries this season. That’s a heavy workload for any running back, let alone one that has suffered injuries in the past, so we’ll have to wait and see if Ajayi has a realistic shot of reaching his head coach’s goal.

In 2016, Ajayi finished with 260 carries in 15 games. Regardless of whether Ajayi reaches the 350 mark or not, the confidence coming from his head coach shows the high praise that he has for his lead back. You can see from his projected fantasy value that big things are expected from Ajayi this coming season.

Related Story: 2017 Dolphins Preview: Ryan Tannehill

Not only is he expected to see a dramatic increase in the amount of rushes he receives, but Ajayi is also likely to see an increased role in the passing game. With his strong capability to break tackles, Ajayi could be dangerous in the open field when the opportunity arises. He has spent some time this offseason improving his receiving. The idea that Ajayi could see at around 400 touches for the year is incredible.

Ryan Tannehill has to love the idea of involving his lead back more in the passing game. Adding Ajayi to an already strong corps of receivers that includes Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills, Tannehill thinks this is the best offense the Dolphins have had in his tenure.

It all starts with the run game, however. Ajayi’s breakout year was the beginning of the turnaround for Miami. There will be no surprises for other teams this time around, but stopping him is a whole different element. The sky is the limit for Ajayi as he very well could break career numbers, and will be a lead candidate for the rushing title.