The Dolphins figure to take a closer look at Ballage after they declined to re-sign Frank Gore, Charles Trainor of The Miami Herald reports. Given their commitment to a rebuild and numerous roster deficiencies, it won't come as any surprise if the Dolphins enter training camp with minimal competition for Ballage and Kenyan Drake in the backfield. The latter is an obvious favorite to handle the lead role, but he's yet to reach 175 touches in a season despite playing all 48 games since he entered the NFL. The Dolphins ideally would like to see a 1-2 punch, with Drake presumably handling more of the receiving work while Ballage does more bruising between the tackles. Granted, the 237-pounder didn't show much aptitude as an inside runner at Arizona State, and the Dolphins still have time to upgrade their backfield before Week 1 if they don't trust Ballage.
Ballage's work ethic and athleticism have made a strong impression on running backs coach Eric Studesville, one of the few holdovers from the old coaching staff in Miami, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports. "[Ballage]'s a big, physical body," Studesville said. "He can run. He's athletic. He's got a lot of growth to do as far as seeing and recognizing things. His work ethic is tremendous. He's got speed for a big man." A size-speed freak with subpar college production, Ballage was selected at No. 131 overall (fourth round) in the 2018 NFL Draft and spent most of his rookie season playing special teams. He finally got his shot on offense when Frank Gore suffered a season-ending foot injury Week 15, immediately responding with a 75-yard touchdown scamper against Minnesota. The rookie averaged just 3.3 yards on his 35 other carries and 6.2 yards on nine catches, with 12 of his 45 touches (27 percent) going for no gain or a loss. The hit-or-miss style isn't optimal in an offense that already has Kenyan Drake doing a better version of the same thing, but the 237-pound Ballage does at least have theoretical potential to develop into a between-the-tackles grinder if he can improve his vision, toughness and upright running posture. He seems to have support from Studesville, but there's no guarantee other members of the overhauled Miami coaching staff will agree. We'll have a better read on Ballage's dynasty value once the Dolphins start to make some moves during the offseason.
Ballage rushed four times for 10 yards and caught two of four targets for 39 yards in Sunday's loss to Jacksonville. Ballage didn't come near his Week 15 workload -- one that saw him log 12 carries for 123 yards -- disappointing fantasy managers who risked starting him in their lineups. The rookie was mostly stifled alongside the rest of Miami's offense, which managed only 183 total yards on the day. Ballage was able to briefly showcase his receiving chops, averaging 19.5 yards per reception and doing most of his damage after the catch.
Ballage carried the ball 12 times for 123 yards and one touchdown during Sunday's 41-17 loss to the Vikings. He also caught one pass for a loss of two yards. Ballage benefited from a substantial uptick in carries after Frank Gore (ankle) suffered a sprained foot during the first quarter, and he made the most of his opportunity. The rookie fourth-round pick capped his performance with a highlight-reel 75-yard TD run on the first play of the second half, in which he broke straight through the middle of the line and then outran the Vikings' secondary. Ballage had entered Sunday's game with only eight carries for 11 yards on the season, but his breakout performance will now likely earn him an increased offensive role going forward. If Gore were to miss any time, Ballage will be an intriguing waiver-wire pickup in all fantasy formats.
Ballage did not play a single offensive snap during Sunday's 34-33 win over the Patriots. Ballage's only contributions during the Week 14 victory came in the form of his 19 special teams snaps. The rookie fourth-round pick appeared to have been carving out a niche role in Miami's rushing attack prior to Sunday's silent showing, but his volume projection for the rest of the season is now murky at best. It seems increasingly likely that Ballage won't get much of an opportunity for touches in 2018.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|