The Dolphins produced fewer rushing yards than any other team in the NFL last season, underscoring their overall lack of offensive productivity (25th in scoring offense). There were two teams in the NFL last season whose quarterback led their team in rushing yards – the Ravens and the Dolphins. Despite not at all being a dual-threat QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick led Miami in rushing last season with just 243 yards. That’s all expected to change in 2020 as the Dolphins added both Jordan Howard and Matt Breida in the offseason. Both players will likely see significant playing time, but will Breida emerge as the more valuable between the two for fantasy production?
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Matt Breida was part of a committee backfield in San Francisco last season, along with Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, and Jeff Wilson. Still, Breida flashed high-level talent at times and has proven his ability to contribute through rushing and receiving. Breida was the fastest ball-carrier in 2019 per Next Gen Stats, and his production was impressive, considering he only started five games last season as the team eventually favored Mostert as the lead back. Breida only finished as the RB46 in PPR leagues last season, a significant dropoff from finishing as the RB26 in 2018.
— NFL (@NFL) May 24, 2020
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With Jordan Howard joining him in the Miami backfield, it’s unclear how many touches we should expect for Breida. I currently have him down for 128 carries to Howard’s 202, but where Breida will pick up extra value is in the passing game. Howard was a 3-year starter in Chicago who earned 250+ carries per season, but he never caught more than 30 passes during that span. Breida is a much more explosive and versatile weapon in that regard. Howard will likely earn the red-zone role – I have him down for eight rushing touchdowns to Breida’s 3 – but Breida’s speed and all-around talent will make him a more productive per-touch player.
ADP: 95.4, RB34
Auction Value: $8
Breida is an exciting high-upside player being drafted in the 9th or 10th round. Depending on how Howard fares in Miami, Breida could be in for much more of a workload than previously expected. In any case, he’ll offer open-field speed and dynamic pass-catching to a Dolphins’ offense sorely lacking in those areas last season. Breida is currently being drafted after Damien Williams, Tevin Coleman, Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, Kareem Hunt, Phillip Lindsay, and Marlon Mack, players who I think he has a strong chance of producing more than this season.
— Fourth and Nine (@fourth_nine) September 15, 2019
One of the scary parts of spending a mid-round pick on Breida this season is his recent injury history. Breida hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie year and has suffered a pectoral tear and multiple leg/ankle injuries in the past. He also has had some issues with fumbling from time to time, but a fresh start on a new team could be just what the doctor ordered. Howard is the safer option with multiple seasons of 250+ carries, and only a handful of career fumbles, and he likely has the higher floor between the two players.
While Jordan Howard might have a higher floor between the two players, Matt Breida almost certainly has the higher ceiling thanks to his explosiveness and pass-catching capability. Breida may be a bit more hit-or-miss week-to-week without the same level of reliability, but he’s likely set up for some massively productive weeks along the way. Breida has never surpassed 30 receptions in a season, although I fully expect that to change this year. I have him down for about 50 catches, which would be ranked inside the top 15 at his position, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him surpass even that number. Depending on how the snaps are split up in Miami and whether or not Breida can stay healthy, the former 49ers’ running back should have top-20 fantasy upside at his position.
Here’s @MattBreida‘s second TD on the night 👀
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 8, 2019
Miami Dolphins’ Offense
The Dolphins’ offense was anemic in 2020 – the team ranked 25th in points for and 27th in total yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick did an admirable job, compiling 3,529 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in a 5-8 record as the starter. The offense at least was borderline functional with him under center – that wasn’t the case with Josh Rosen. The Dolphins drafted Tua Tagovailoa in the first round of this year’s draft. Still, there’s a good chance he is benched for his entire first season amid concerns over inexperience and injuries. DeVante Parker finally broke out last season as a true #1 X receiver – he finished the season with 72 receptions for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns. Mike Gesecki is entering his third season in the NFL and is a true breakout candidate, as is Preston Williams, who was on pace for an epic rookie season before finishing the year on IR. The Dolphins also have two new starters on the offensive line after spending first and second-round picks, respectively, on Austin Jackson (left tackle) and Robert Hunt (right guard). These are all factors that will enable higher offensive production to support the additions of Breida and Howard to a previously anemic running game.
Strength of Schedule
Unfortunately for Matt Breida, the Dolphins probably play the most robust in-division schedule in terms of running back defense – the Patriots (1st), Jets (8th), and Bills (13th) were some of the best defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs last year. Luckily for the Dolphins, as the last-placed team in the AFC East last season, they get to take on other bottom-feeders in the Raiders (18th), Bengals (22nd), and Jaguars (31st) who didn’t fare nearly as well against RBs last year. The Dolphins will also take on the rest of the teams in the AFC West, a mixed bag of fantasy RB defenses in the Broncos (10th), Chargers (24th), and Chiefs (29th). Rounding out the Miami slate is an intra-conference matchup against the NFC West. That division features one high-end run defense in the 49ers (3rd), but the rest of the defenses were 15th or worse in fantasy RB defense – the Rams (15th), Seahawks (19th), and Cardinals (21st). The Dolphins’ in-division slate is no joke, but they have plenty of soft matchups otherwise which could buoy much-improved production out of their backfield.
When I’m throwing darts at players for depth in the mid to late rounds, I’m always looking for guys who I think could have top-15 upside at their position rather than safer but lower-upside options. Matt Breida and Jordan Howard present that exact dichotomy for fantasy football this season, but if the beginning of your draft goes well, you should have plenty of reliable options to count on. That should allow you the opportunity to take a flier on a guy like Matt Breida, who has a wide range of outcomes. If everything breaks right for Breida, though, we could be talking about a league-winning draft pick in the 9th or 10th round.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) April 17, 2020