Fantasy 5: How much will Jay Ajayi’s workload increase?

Jeff Ratcliffe runs through the biggest fantasy football news of the day, including RB news in Miami and New Orleans.

| 1 month ago
Jay Ajayi

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Fantasy 5: How much will Jay Ajayi’s workload increase?

(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)

OTAs are in full swing across the NFL, and we’re starting to get a glimpse of what teams will look like in 2017. Here are the five biggest stories fantasy players need to know as we head into Memorial Day weekend:

1. Huge workload for Jay Ajayi?

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase recently said Ajayi could see upward of 350 carries in 2017 if he stays healthy and is able to play all 16 games. That’s a massive workload that equates to 21.9 carries per game. Ezekiel Elliott lead the league in carries last season with 322. Since 2010, only two running backs have topped 350 carries: DeMarco Murry with 392 in 2014 and Arian Foster with 351 in 2011.

While Gase’s projection may seem a bit lofty, Ajayi did received a significant workload after he took over the lead back duties in Week 6 last season. From that point on, he led all running backs with 229 carries, which is 20.8 per game. It’s certainly reasonable for that number to increase by one per game. Ajayi also led the position in rushing yards with 1,155. If this workload comes to fruition, Ajayi has the potential to offer good value on his current ADP as the ninth running back off the board in the middle of the second round.

2. Andrew Luck may not be ready for camp

The Colts signal-caller is recovering from shoulder surgery in January and the tea leaves continue to point to Luck not being ready for the open of training camp. While it’s easy to read into news like this and panic, fantasy players need to take a deep breath. Missing the beginning of camp and missing the start of the season are two completely different things. There’s no indication Luck won’t be ready for the season. Luck is currently coming off the board in the fourth round, which is a tad early if you’re of the late-round QB mindset. However, he’s fairly valued by the drafting public as the No. 4 quarterback in ADP.

3. Breshad Perriman impressing in OTAs

Giddy up. One of our favorite breakout candidates, Perriman is reportedly making plays left and right in Ravens OTAs. Of course, it should be noted that this is without pads, so take this with a grain of salt. However, the positive reviews of Perriman’s play are still reason for optimism.

After missing all of his rookie season, Perriman played a somewhat minimal role last year. Despite playing in 15 games, he saw just 64 targets, which ranked fourth on the team. However, Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken accounted for 148 targets. With both players out of the mix, we expect Perriman’s volume to significantly increase. He’s a very appealing option at his current ADP in the 13th round, though fantasy drafters should expect Perriman to continue to rise up the board between now and early September.

4. Optimism from Amari Cooper

Entering his third professional season, the Raiders wideout believes he can “have a lot more production” than he’s had over the last two seasons. To be fair, Cooper has been quite productive over that span, topping 1,000 yards in each of his first two years in the NFL. We’re often spoiled with wide receiver production in today’s era, but that’s no small feat.

From a fantasy standpoint, Cooper’s biggest issue has been touchdown production. His yardage totals have been rock solid, but Cooper managed to score just five times in his rookie season and six times last year. As a result, he’s been a WR2 option both seasons.

But that’s a somewhat misleading picture of Cooper’s performance Last year, he was tied for seventh among wide receivers in fantasy scoring after the first eight weeks. From that point on, he ranked 44th. Cooper claims he’s working on finishing as strong as he starts. While we don’t believe Cooper will take a massive step forward in terms of his statistical output this season, we’re inclined to believe that he’ll be a more consistent option this year. He’s fairly priced at his current ADP as the 10th wide receiver off the board.

5. Saints working on Peterson’s pass catching

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but New Orleans is trying to anyway with Peterson at OTAs. This is a common storyline with Peterson at this time of year, but receiving has never been a major part of his game. He’s topped 40 catches just twice in his 10-year career.

Perhaps the more interesting news out of Saints OTAs regarding Peterson is he’s taking the bulk of the first-team work with Mark Ingram sidelined with an unspecified injury. At this point, there’s little clarity on how the Saints plan to use both backs, making them risky propositions in early fantasy drafts. However, Peterson reportedly looks good and has a chance to emerge as the preferred early-down option in New Orleans.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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