Can De’Von Achane Deliver the Best Dolphins RB Season in Decades?

Getty De'Von Achane did the near-impossible in 2023. What's in store for 2024?

What De’Von Achane did last season defied logic. 7.8 yards per carry? 11 touchdowns on only 130 touches? An elite broken-tackle rate? The sixth RB selected in the 2023 draft did more with less than perhaps any rookie running back in NFL history.

With teammate Raheem Mostert entering his age-32 campaign, Miami likely will expand Achane’s role–perhaps to no less than a timeshare with Mostert. And there’s an outside chance Achane could take over this backfield in 2024, setting him on a course to net the franchise’s second-most rushing yards in a season.

What are realistic expectations for this electric playmaker as he heads into Year 2?

De’Von Achane Operates in an Ideal Offensive Scheme

How do defenses slow down the Dolphins? When everyone’s healthy, they’re one of the toughest outs in football. A key metric to consider is Achane’s insane average of 4.7 yards before initial contact last season. When you have Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle drawing attention, guys like Achane have more room to maneuver.

For context, among RBs with 50+ carries in 2023, the next-highest average was 3.2 yards before initial contact. Simply put, Achane was off the charts, and Miami’s dynamic offense is a key reason why.

This team also will benefit from a relatively easy schedule this next season, at least with respect to opponents’ 2023 win-loss records. Comparatively, last season’s schedule was pretty brutal.

Durability and Usage are the Big Wild Cards

Achane struggled to stay on the field as a rookie. At roughly 5’9″ and 188 pounds, there are legitimate questions about whether he can withstand the physical demands of an NFL workhorse.

He averaged 19.6 carries per game in his final season at Texas A&M. So clearly he can be “the guy.” But his injury-plagued 2023 campaign presents a dilemma for the Dolphins: should they turn him loose, or should they manage his reps ahead of what they hope is a deep playoff run?

He’s a 22-year-old near the dawn of his career and is under contract for at least three more seasons. Miami obviously struck gold. Should they try to get everything they can out of him this season? Or should he be a 10-14 touch RB, knowing that could still add up to a healthy 225+ touches?

Certainly not bell-cow usage. But enough to help this team win while trying to keep him intact.

Realistic 2024 Projections

Fantasy football managers know that Achane is one of the league’s most-hyped RBs. His RB7 average draft position reflects the fact that he was the RB5 in fantasy points per game last year. Surely any increased usage could/should improve those numbers.

However, I don’t believe Miami will turn him loose, especially when Mostert is healthy. This is a win-now club that must contend with financial realities. Their 2025 cap space is among the league’s lowest, and that doesn’t include what’s expected to be a lucrative contract upcoming for Tua Tagovailoa.

Waddle is another potentially sizable contract this franchise must consider. Will he still be on this team in 2025, and if so, what cuts and restructures will be required to make the numbers work?

It’s quite possible that the 2024 Dolphins are at their apex. They’ve spent the past few years building toward this moment. Achane is one of many key pieces. Making sure he’s on the field in January, and (hopefully for them) February would boost their title hopes. Running him into the ground during the regular season wouldn’t make sense.

I’m projecting 12-14 touches per game, keeping him out of elite and near-elite RB conversations–at least in 2024.