Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase on offseason: "I love the fact that [Jay Ajayi] challenged himself." #FantasyFootball #finsup pic.twitter.com/irqfRRetMg— Al Butler (@ALaboutSports) July 25, 2017
July 25 (UPI) -- Coach Adam Gase loved the way Jay Ajayi challenged himself to get better this offseason and the Miami Dolphins running back has proved he belongs on the field for three downs.
Gase talked about the Pro Bowler on Tuesday, before the Dolphins start training camp Thursday, at the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla.
"Well we kind of thought that was what it was going to be last year," Gase said. "He did a good job last spring. I'd say we had like four bad days and this spring he did an outstanding job of coming into, just the offseason in general, talking about what he felt like he wasn't as good at as some other guys around the league, to where he wanted to improve."
Ajayi was not the starter last season heading into Week 1. He was even left at home by Gase for the Dolphins' contest against the Seattle Seahawks after Arian Foster was named to the top of the depth chart. Gase now calls the third-year player the Dolphins' "bell cow."
Coaches have lauded Ajayi's improved pass catching ability this offseason. His hands looked sure in OTAs and minicamp.
Ajayi is motivated to be the "best," mentioned above players like Le'Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott nad David Johnson.
Gase and his staff have taken notice of a different aura seeping from No. 23.
"You could see when we were watching him in practice he had really worked on a lot of things as far as in the passing game - routes, protection - to where he either studied video or he spent a lot time running routes and we saw it in practice," Gase said. "I love the fact that he challenged himself. He wanted to be a guy that could be used on all three downs that 'Hey, when we're doing this certain concept, we'd rather have somebody else in there.'
"He wants to make sure you can call anything you want on that call sheet and I can do it. He did a great job of putting that out there, showing us that whatever we ask him, whatever we've got on there he can do."
That's great news for fantasy football players, who know that being on the field is half of the battle when it comes to posting points. Ajayi is already looking at an increased workload in carries, but his overall touches should be a bigger factor in his success. The running back had 27 receptions last season for 151 yards. Ajayi led the NFL in yards after contact per attempt last season. His ability to avoid tackles should translate well to after the catch stats if he can reel in more passes.
Ajayi deserves consideration as a top-5 running back in your fantasy football league drafts. He will be relied on heavily for this Dolphins offense and overall success during the 2017 season.