Fantasy Football: What to expect from Myles Gaskin in 2021

After a solid run as the Dolphins' lead back last year, what should fantasy managers expect from Myles Gaskin this year?

Miami Dolphins, Fantasy Football, Myles Gaskin
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins tried to bolster their running back stable by signing Jordan Howard and trading for Matt Breida heading into the 2020 season. But Howard was quickly rendered little more than a goal line guy before being let go, and Breida never got on track. Myles Gaskin wound up leading the Dolphins in rushing (584 yards), with 972 total yards.

The Dolphins were easy to tie to prominent running backs in free agency and the draft. But they came out of free agency with former Ram Malcolm Brown, then they drafted Gerrid Doaks in the seventh round. Incumbents Salvon Ahmed and Patrick Laird remain in place.

Gaskin took over as Miami’s lead back last season in Week 3 against Jacksonville, with 22 carries for 66 yards and five catches for 29 yards. From there through Week 8, he was RB17 in standard fantasy scoring and RB15 in full PPR. But a knee injury cost him four games (Week 9-12). Then he missed Week 14 and Week 15 on the COVID-19 list. So from Week 9-15, a critical time on the fantasy schedule, Gaskin literally played one game (Week 13). He had 141 scoreless total yards in a great matchup against the Bengals that week.

In his 10 games, Gaskin averaged 12.3 (standard scoring) and 16.4 (full PPR) fantasy points per game. Project those averages out over 16 games, and he would have been RB9 and RB5 respectively. Project his total yardage out over 16 games, and he would have been fourth in the league with 1,555 yards from scrimmage. By points per game, among running backs who played more than one game, Gaskin was RB12 in full PPR. He was RB11 in full PPR among those who played at least five games, and RB10 among those who played at least seven games.

Gaskin averaged 18.3 touches (carries and catches) and 18.9 opportunities (carries and targets) per game in 2020. Project that touch number over 16 games, and he would have had the sixth-most touches in the league (rounding up to 293).

Gaskin had 36 red zone carries and seven red zone targets last year (via RotoWire). That translates to 4.3 red zone opportunities per game he played. But he cashed in just four of those red zone looks for touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving), with a memorable long touchdown reception against the Raiders in Week 16 for his fifth total score.

Fantasy Football: What to expect from Myles Gaskin in 2021

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores seems intent on following his roots with running back deployment. That means having a Patriots-style backfield, to fully frustrate fantasy managers. Gaskin looks like he’ll be the head of that committee, as the best all-around talent of the group. However, the news Miami put in a claim on Kerryon Johnson after the Detroit Lions waived him says a lot.

Working in favor of Gaskin and Miami’s rushing attack are the additions of Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle at wide receiver. That will make it hard for defenses to load the box, and naturally create space to run and catch passes. An improved offensive line will be good too.

I have a hard time buying into any “best shape of his life” narratives, as Josh Tolentino of The Athletic seemed to unveil in the above story. Gaskin surely has made an effort to stay healthier this season. But being in better shape wouldn’t have strictly prevented last year’s sprained MCL.

Via Fantasy Football Calculator ADP, Gaskin currently sits at RB24 (pick 4.12) in 12-team PPR and 12-team half-PPR. In 12-team standard, he’s coming in at RB25 (pick 5.06). Some other rankings and ADP sources have him a couple spots higher. But RB2 range, and a late-fourth/early fifth-round pick, looks like the consensus.

Brown is in line to vulture short yardage and goal line work. Ahmed did enough last year to warrant a role, even a few carries per game. So Gaskin’s weekly range of outcome feels wide. Assuming he doesn’t get banged up and miss time, which might be a lot to assume.

The Dolphins have the makings of a good offense, as long as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa holds up his end. So drafting Gaskin as a low-end RB2 or high-end RB3/flex reeks of value and upside. For those who are so inclined, he’s a solid way to get a piece of the Miami offense in a fantasy draft. I might lean another way, but I’m not sure toward who just yet.

But based on FF Calculator’s current ADP (12-team full PPR), I’d rather reach a bit for a wide receiver (Cooper Kupp, Kenny Golladay, Diontae Johnson, Tyler Lockett) than take Gaskin around 50th overall. Or if I haven’t taken a quarterback yet, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert and Aaron Rodgers could be in play.

There’s a lot of projecting in what Gaskin did last year to puff him up now. Some fantasy analysts are buying into it, shaping him into a “Zero-RB” target. I won’t be that interested, unless I can get him as a RB3. And even then, I won’t be excited about it. But I’m guessing I’ll never have to make that decision. Then I can yawn at Gaskin when I see what he did against me in a given week.