In an ideal world, you picked a stud running back early in your fantasy football draft, and he’s still going strong. Real life, however, is far from ideal; plenty of running backs have struggled, gone down to injury, or are simply on bye when you need them the most. If you’re looking for last-minute help this weekend, Mark Walton of the Miami Dolphins might be worth a look.
While it may seem counterintuitive to pick up a player from such a poor offensive unit, Walton looks to be in line for a busy game on Monday night.
Mark Walton’s career
Mark Walton is a Florida native and played his college ball for the Miami Hurricanes. He racked up 461 yards and nine touchdowns as a true freshman before breaking the 1,000-yard mark and finding the end zone 11 times as a sophomore. After an injury-shortened junior season, Walton entered the NFL draft.
Scouts noted his ability to make things happen on offense and catch passes out of the backfield, but concerns about his ability to run between the tackles remained. The Cincinnati Bengals selected Walton in the fourth round, but barely used him; he slotted in as their third running back, only getting 14 carries all season. The running back was arrested three times during the offseason and was unsurprisingly cut.
Trying to make a splash with the Miami Dolphins
After a tryout, Walton signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins. While the season started out slowly, things have picked up in the past couple of weeks.
During the opening weeks of the season, it looked like Walton was going to have another year of minimal work. Through the first four games of the season, he only carried the ball 10 times, picking up 39 yards. While the running back’s workload didn’t change significantly in Miami’s Week 6 game against the Washington Redskins, he did get the start.
In Week 7, however, Walton received even more work and posted a solid outing against the Buffalo Bills. He received 14 touches out of the backfield, rushing for 66 yards; he also caught one pass, but it went for negative yards. He’s still stuck in a timeshare, splitting the work with Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage, but Walton is catching his coach’s eye.
“I think it’s clear to anyone who watches that if you’re a Dolphins fan, you want to see Mark Walton get the football a little bit more,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “I like all of our backs. Drake has gone in there and made plays, Ballage has gone in there and made plays. But Mark has definitely been playing well the last couple of weeks.”
Walton’s fantasy prospects going forward
As mentioned above, Walton is currently sharing his carries with two other running backs. That could change by the NFL trade deadline, however, as the Dolphins are reportedly looking to move Drake. If that happens, Walton’s value will receive a significant boost.
As for this weekend, however, Walton could slot in as your second running back or flex option. He’ll probably get about 20 carries on Monday night, plus catch a few passes out of the backfield. The match-up is also in his Walton’s favor; the Steelers allow an average of 20 more rushing yards per game than the Bills did.
If you’re desperate for reinforcements this weekend, you could do far worse than Mark Walton. In a best-case scenario, he’ll be Miami’s top running back for the rest of the season; in a worst-case scenario, you can drop him next weekend and try again.