The Miami Dolphins are bumbling through what could turn out to be a historically dreadful season. At 0-12 and with what looks to be very few winnable games left on the schedule, the Dolphins could well be on their way to a winless season. Blame could be put in any number of places, not the least of which is injuries. The Dolphins have placed 11 players on Injured Reserve so far this season. One position that has been hit particularly hard by injury is running back. Having already lost running backs Ronnie Brown (knee) and Ricky Williams (chest) for the season, they may be without halfback Jesse Chatman (ankle) in Week 14 and could go into the game against the Buffalo Bills with running back Samkon Gado as the starter.
Chatman (ankle) left in the third quarter of the Week 13 game against the New York Jets. He is considered doubtful this week and appears unlikely to play. After Brown went down in Week 7, Chatman started the next three games and ran for an average of 91.6 yards per game, highlighted by a 124-yard game against the Bills in Week 10.
This week as the Dolphins travel to Buffalo if Chatman can't go they are expected to look to Gado as his replacement. Gado has been through a roller coaster season to say the least. He started the season with the Houston Texans and spent the first two weeks on the inactive list before getting into the action in Week 3. He played sparingly until being waived after Week 7. Gado was picked up by the Dolphins and spent several weeks on the inactive list until he was waived to make room for Williams. Two days after being cut, Miami re-signed Gado to replace Williams and now he could be the starter against the Bills.
Gado has had only 20 carries in 2007 for 48 yards (2.4 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Gado's best season came in 2005 with the Green Bay Packers when he ran for 582 yards and six touchdowns. Since then he has bounced around and played limited roles with the Packers, Texans and Dolphins.
Gado does not fit the style of back Miami head coach Cam Cameron likes to use. He is a straight line runner and not much of a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. Cameron prefers a dual threat back like he had in San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson. A role Brown had begun to flourish in before getting injured.
While the Bills 20th-ranked rushing defense might appear to increase Gado's fantasy value, Miami has not scored an offensive touchdown of any kind in their last three games. Miami's last rushing touchdown was by quarterback Cleo Lemon in Week 10 against the Bills, and the last rushing touchdown by a running back was a fourth quarter run by Chatman back in Week 7. So it isn't as though Gado would be getting plugged into a successful running offense, were he to start this Sunday.
Running back Lorenzo Booker, the Dolphins' third-round draft pick from Florida State, saw his first action of the season against the Jets in Week 13. Booker is a speedy yet undersized back, with big play potential. However, the team has clearly been hesitant to use Booker, which while not necessarily an indictment of his talent, leaves him without any fantasy value at this time.
The player that could see increased playing time were Chatman to miss time is running back Patrick Cobbs. Cobbs has bounced around the league, playing for three teams in two NFL seasons. He has good bulk but is very short and has marginal speed. He has only 15 career carries for 47 yards and can't be counted on to provide fantasy value.
If Chatman (ankle) misses time during the next couple of weeks only Gado should garner any real fantasy value, and even that figures to be limited. Chatman owners should likely look to other teams to replace him. One player that could be available is Kansas City Chiefs running back Kolby Smith. In two starts Smith is averaging 116.5 yards per game, and it is still unclear when or if Chiefs running back Larry Johnson (foot) will return. Other options of note include Texans running back Ron Dayne, Chicago Bears halfback Adrian N. Peterson and even Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson.
About Thomas Griffenkranz
Thomas has been a KFFL contributor since 2007.
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