De’Von Achane 2024 Fantasy Football Outlook: Is the Reward Worth the Risk in Round 2 or 3?

De’Von Achane is one of the most polarizing 2024 fantasy football draft picks. Anyone with eyeballs could see his tantalizing, “league-winning” upside.

Yet, Achane also dealt with constant, nagging injuries throughout his rookie year. Given Achane’s slight 5’9″ and 188 lbs frame, fantasy football managers are understandably worried he may be injury-prone and tough to trust with a costly Round 2 or 3 fantasy pick.

Let’s dive into De’Von Achane’s 2024 fantasy football outlook and dissect both the upside and downside, ultimately answering the question: Does the potential reward outweigh the risk?

De’Von Achane: The Risk in 2024 Fantasy Football

Let’s get the bad news out of the way: Achane carries more risk than most RBs, and overall players, going in his Round 2-3 price range. Fantasy managers may have hesitation towards drafting Achane for two key reasons:

A) De’Von Achane’s Injury Risk

In just his first professional season, Achane already has a concerning injury history. In Week 2 of the preseason, He was carted off with a shoulder A/C joint sprain, which held him out until Week 2 of the regular season.

Achane then went on a three-game tear (more later) before suffering a sprained MCL in Week 5. He needed to go on the IR and did not see meaningful action until Week 13.

Achane also had a foot injury during his junior college season (November 2022), forcing him to miss two games. He otherwise held up well in college, but it’s very fair, if not prudent, to be worried.

At just 5’9″ and 188 lbs, Achane may struggle with injuries throughout his NFL career. According to DraftSharks, Achane is “Very High Risk,” with an 83.4% chance of missing time in 2024.

On the flip side, injuries can be tough to predict. Yes, whether due to playing style or size, some players are more “injury-prone” than others.

Still, Christian McCaffrey was considered injury-prone just two seasons ago. Besides playoff rest, CMC has not missed a game over the past two years, finishing as the RB2 and RB1 in that span. If you were avoiding “injury-prone” players, you cost yourself league-winning seasons.

According to the Sun Sentinel, one of Achane’s main goals this offseason was to “get stronger to better withstand the hits taken in the NFL.” Achane reportedly checked in “noticeably stronger” and bulked up. Just look at the difference:

“I came off a lot of injuries last year, so basically maintaining my body, keeping my weight up. That’s mainly something I was focused on,” he said.

Achane indicated he increased his weight, “but not by that much; it was more like trying to stay there because it’s hot out here. We run a lot. We sweat a lot.”

HC Mike McDaniel noticed, commenting, “[I’m] seeing some strength gains, and you can tell by his body he’s put some work into it…[he’s] just understanding everything about our offense so he can be as big a part of it as possible. That’s his goal.”

Indeed, Achane poses a higher injury risk than most picks in the 20-30 range. Still, every player has this same concern, and he held up to large workloads in college. Fade him due to injuries at your own risk.

B) Miami Backfield: RBBC Creates Volume Concerns

Given Achane’s injury concerns, the Dolphins wisely deploy an RBBC backfield. Achane only topped 13 touches in four of his eleven active games, averaging 12.7 opportunities per game. Per RotoViz:

Achane managed just 103 carries and 37 targets for the season, regularly taking a backseat to Raheem Mostert.

This offseason, Mostert signed a one-year extension to remain under contract for at least two more years. In their eight games together, the split was nearly dead even:

  • De’Von Achane: 239 snaps, 83-640-7 rushing, 34 targets, 23-175-2 receiving
  • Raheem Mostert: 236 snaps, 96-416-9 rushing, 20 targets, 18-123-2 receiving

Jacob Gibbs downloaded the game logs and plotted their usage in which each RB played at least 1/3rd of the snaps. In 7 total games:

The workload and snaps were about as even as possible. However, Gibbs caught a crucial difference. Once Achane returned from injury in Week 13, Mostert was the clear goal-line preference:

Red zone snap rate:
62% – Mostert
29% – Achane

Red zone opps:
16- Mostert
5 – Achane

The team also traded up to select Tennessee speedster Jaylen Wright, who I love. At minimum, Wright’s presence makes it unlikely that anyone back takes over a featured role, even with injuries.

Head Coach Mike McDaniel even suggested all RBs, including Wright, will get an opportunity:

“I think all players benefit…There’s supreme urgency to do right with the ball if you deserve to have it. Yeah, the competition is fierce. I’m fired up because we have a group of competitors that will satisfy the thirst for them. It will be fierce. Depth comes into question each and every year, so you’re always looking for a full roster.”

Going at a similar price in Redraft (and 2+ rounds later in Best Ball), Rachaad White saw 272 carries and 70 targets, and his 20.1 opportunities a game trailed only CMC.

Isiah Pacheco tallied 18.2 opps per game in the explosive Chiefs offense and now won’t have to contend with Jerick McKinnon. Derrick Henry could see 300+ carries in the Ravens offense this year.

Understandably, the Dolphins’ RBBC and Achane’s lower workload have some fantasy managers passing on him for safer volume bets.

Here’s why that could be a grave mistake.

The Potential Reward of De’Von Achane in 2024 Fantasy Football

While Achane clearly comes with some fantasy warts, the reward could prove well worth it. He was a week-winner when active last year and has the upside to be a true league-winner if he can sustain his health.

In this breakdown of the Hero RB Strategy, I outlined the common characteristics of RBs who have posted “Legendary Seasons.”

Of course, there are anomalies; many outcomes can’t be boiled down to a single checklist or point. Still, some clear trends emerged – many that should not surprise fantasy owners:

  • Versatile skillset, with an ability to shoulder volume and goalline work (duh).
  • A pass-catching role that can yield 4+ weekly receptions
  • Even better if the back has flashed elite receiving upside and the ability to break a big play as a pass-catcher
  • A path to at least two “green zone” opportunities (inside-the-10) a game
  • Running behind above-average to elite offensive line
  • Often 26 or under, and typically over 210 lbs

When active, Achane checks nearly all of those boxes with flying colors.

Let’s dive deeper into just how good he was last year.

A) De’Von Achane’s Record-Setting Efficiency

In many of the stickiest “talent-measuring” metrics, Achane absolutely SMASHED. He posted record-setting efficiency and ranked at the top of the NFL for many metrics.

Look at this list:

-1st in FP over Expected (+6.7 per game)
-1st in YPT (7.7)
-1st in yards after contact per touch (4.94)
-1st in FPs per Touc (1.36)
-1st in breakaway run rate (12.6%)
-1st in 40+ yard runs on only 103 carries

He also put up 50 FPs in his first true NFL action! No one else at RB came close to this. He ultimately scored 7 TDs in his first four games, the first player to do that since 1943.

As Ian Hartitz wrote, “Achane’s rookie-year efficiency essentially broke RB performance charts. The man skews everything thanks to his regular placement DEEP in the upper right quadrant.

DeVon Achane

His 7.8 YPC is the most by any RB in a single season for all-time (minimum 100 carries) by a full yard!

Achane finished as a Top-8 PPR RB in five of his 11 appearances and was Top-12 in 56% of his contests. Only CMC (81%), Kyren Williams (75%), and Derrick Henry (59%) had a better rate of Top-12 games.

Plus, these numbers are skewed by games when he barely saw the field. When you filter for just games in which Achane played 7+ snaps, he averaged an absurd 31.8 FPPG. This would be the most of any RB for career FPPG ever:

Considering Achane ranked 44th in opportunities, his fantasy production (RB5 in FPPG, and RB1 in FPPG when he played 7+ snaps) was the result of absurd efficiency and talent.

Betting on ability over just a situation / projected volume usually leads to positive fantasy results. Sure, Achane is due to a regress in efficiency.

Still, Achane should expect to see a volume spike as well. FantasyPoints’ Ryan Heath noted that the historical usage trend for backs with this level of efficiency is extremely encouraging:

Based on reports out of OTAs, that spike could come in the passing game (where touches are infinitely more valuable for RBs)

B) De’Von Achane increased receiving role

As mentioned, one of Achane’s biggest goals was bulking up to avoid injuries.

His second biggest goal was to grow as a route runner and pass protector. Achane hopes that the added muscle will allow him to sustain a larger workload, and one key area he hopes to see those looks in is as a pass catcher.

Based on OTAs, Achane could see a major spike in catches. McDaniel reportedly moved Achane around and agreed they could be more creative with Achane in his second year:

“For him, the more he can understand within the offense, the more ways he can get the ball,” McDaniel said. “He had outstanding ball production. … To find different ways to get people the ball, whether that’s different types of pass routes, whether that’s different types of run schemes that you can get comfortable with, all those things. More ways to be at the point of attack to play within this offense, that’s what this offseason really provides for him.”

Achane noted how he has been “lining up at different positions, as far as like receiver, running routes and stuff,” Achane said during the team’s mandatory minicamp at the start of June. “That’s something that we’re doing different this year, so that’s something that I’ve been doing in the offseason.”

Achane has been working out with the wide receivers and running routes with Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and others to ensure he’s ready.

McDaniel’s run game and RB usage are arguably the best in the entire NFL. He was previously Kyle Shanahan‘s run-game coordinator. Anyone who watches football knows Shanahan and McDaniel are the architects of the most gorgeous zone-blocking scheme in the game, carrying on Mike Shanahan‘s legacy with pride.

In a nutshell, the zone scheme is all about athletic linemen moving in unison to areas or “zones” on the field. When done well, this opens up enormous lanes, whether with the flow of the play, or via “cutback” opportunities against the grain if the defense overpursues.

When these lanes open up, backs with strong acceleration will knife through defenses, gashing them for huge gains routinely. This is especially true in the outside zone game when a back with speed is off to the races before the defense knows what hit them.

This is why Achane led the NFL in breakaway run percentage—he gets up to top speed so damn fast, and almost no one can track him down.

Unsurprisingly, the Dolphins were among the most productive team backfields in 2023. Per game, Miami averaged 137.5 rush yards (5th) & 1.5 rush TDs (3rd), and almost 30 RB FPs per game. Between Mostert and Achane, the Dolphins produced at least one 20+ FP RB in 11-of-17 weeks.

Still, the increased receiving role could make Achane a true cheat code. After watching OTAs, Travis Wingfield, my favorite Miami beat, predicts a massive Achane breakout in 2024. A quote from his recent podcast:

“My god, De’Von Achane is going to have a monster year. He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere. This guy is doing so much with his game. His usage in the passing game, how he himself circled that as something he could improve upon to get more of a piece of the pie of this dynamic offense that has oodles and oodles of skill players who can beat you, and burn you, and score on you.

I just think Achane, maybe he’s receiver three. I’m watching this guy line up in the slot and run a slot fade and cook a corner—the pacing, the line up the stem, the explosive step to widen and then cut back inside; he looks like a receiver when he’s playing the position. He just looks like that.

This might be the next Christian McCaffrey in terms of overall versatility and general usage. Pass game, run game, he’s just a big play waiting to happen. It’s totally wild and something I haven’t seen before.

Tyreek Hill changed the way I view NFL practices. De’Von Achane as far as a running back goes has done the same thing. I think he can challenge every level of the field as a pass-catcher. The timing, the pacing, the explosion as a runner, he just keeps making play after play no matter how you get him the football. Run an actual route from the slot? OK. Run a route from the perimeter? OK, I can do that.

This guy is going to be a freaking superstar. I don’t know what else to tell you. He is one of the best players on the field of a team that I think is one of the best five teams in the NFL. De’Von Achane, breakout superstar of the year.”

Summary: De’Von Achane 2024 Fantasy Outlook

Yes, Achane comes with some massive risk, especially regarding injury and volume concerns.

Yet, in my opinion, Achane’s reward far outweighs these warts.

Simply put, Achane flashed the outlier talent and scoring ability to be a true Fantasy Legend. If he can sustain his health and/or see a meaningful uptick in work, Achane truly has the upside to be the No.1 RB in fantasy.

Many smart analysts ask the question, “What do you win if you’re right?” to help frame a player’s ceiling and draft value.

With Achane, you win your leagues if you’re right. This makes him an absolute must-draft in all formats at his late-second to mid-third price tag. Upside wins championships, and no one has more of it, especially at this cost, than Achane. I like him in both redraft and Best Ball formats, but he is even more appetizing in the latter where you need the ceiling to outscore the thousands of other opponents, and not just your 12 leaguemates.

I have Achane a whopping +16 spots, all the way up at No. 16 overall on my 2024 Fantasy Football Big Board, and 22nd overall player in my 2024 Best Ball Fantasy Football Rankings.

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