Will concussion hurt Jay Ajayi’s fantasy football stock?


Jay Ajayi was officially diagnosed with a concussion on Wednesday after a hit taken from T.J. McDonald. He’s in no danger to miss the start of the regular season, but should fantasy football players be alarmed?

On Wednesday, the Miami Dolphins announced that Jay Ajayi had been diagnosed with a concussion. The concussion was a result from Monday’s practice when Ajayi took a huge hit from T.J. McDonald in a non-live drill. Ajayi is expected to be out of action for about a week. The injury could lead the Dolphins to decide on shutting down Ajayi altogether for the preseason, but he is not expected to miss any time once the season starts.

Will the injury, however, lead fantasy football players to be more cautious about Ajayi? Those spending their time researching for the upcoming season have had to pay extra attention so far this season. A number of marquee players have gone down in the early start of training camp. Today, the Dolphins got more bad news when Ryan Tannehill went down with an apparent knee injury. The injury was non-contact, and is the same knee that he injured last year that caused him to miss the last quarter of the season and the playoffs. The Dolphins are still awaiting word on the extent of the injury, but it doesn’t look good.

While Tannehill is not viewed as an elite QB in terms of fantasy football, his injury could play a factor for Ajayi. Ajayi’s fantasy value has never been higher in his career until now. He became a breakout player last year once Arian Foster retired from football. He finished the season with over 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns on 260 carries.

Already expected to have a high average draft position (ADP), Ajayi’s stock skyrocketed even further when Adam Gase announced that he intends to get Ajayi 350 carries in 2017. That number seems far-fetched, but it gives the impression that Ajayi will receive a ton of touches, which is the general idea for fantasy football. Add in the fact that the Dolphins plan on involving Ajayi more in the passing game, it’s not shocking to see why his stock has risen so high.

As of now, Ajayi is coming off most fantasy mock drafts in the second round with an ADP of 12th overall. That puts him in line to possibly finish the season as a Top 5 running back. Can Ajayi hold up for an entire season though?

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Ajayi does have an injury history that dates back to his days at Boise State. Although you can’t base fantasy football on the possibility that a player might get hurt, it’s natural to proceed with caution with players that are known to be injury-prone. Let’s remember that Ajayi’s injury history in college is what led to his fall to the Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Ajayi’s latest concussion is only expected to keep him out of the action for a week or so, but it’s a reminder for fantasy owners of how much of a toll Ajayi has already taken throughout his career. If the Dolphins have to go into the season with a different quarterback than Tannehill then game plans may need to be adjusted week to week. Who knows if Ajayi will receive even close to the 22-25 touches per game that he is expected if that is indeed the case?

Personally, I’m still all-in on Ajayi if he’s available when I’m selecting. If Matt Moore is to become the starter, I don’t see the game plan changing much. Moore would be the likely starter even if the Dolphins signed another quarterback. He’s been here the longest and knows the system better than anyone.

However, if you are drafting Ajayi with one of your top picks, it’s very important to have quality backups in place. If Ajayi does complete the season, there’s no doubt in my mind that he can finish the year in the Top 5, maybe even higher. However, a quality bench is just as necessary as having a quality starting unit. Running backs are the most likely to get injured as the season goes on because of the amount of hits they take. As of now, Ajayi is still a risk most definitely worth the reward.