Mark Walton: Priority Waiver Wire Pickup for Week 9 (Fantasy Football)
With Kenyan Drake officially traded to the Arizona Cardinals this week, it’s time to take another close look at Dolphins running back Mark Walton as a priority waiver wire pickup this week in fantasy football. We covered Walton last week and if you missed out on grabbing him then, you missed a bargain because his price just went up.
Here is a breakdown of Walton’s profile as a prospect entering the league, a look at the state of the Dolphins offense, and what we can expect from him going forward as the primary ball carrier in Miami.
Mark Walton is a second-year running back out of Miami who was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Bengals. Walton had an incredible sophomore season for the Hurricanes rushing 209 times for 1,117 yards (5.3 YPA) with 14 TDs. He added an additional 240 yards receiving on 27 receptions with one receiving TD that year. The rushing yards and TDs ranked fifth in the ACC that season. He was on pace to break the Canes rushing yard and TD records in 2017 before going down with an injury and thus ending his season.
Here are some of this best plays from that 2016 season:
Just imagine what @CanesFootball RB Mark Walton might do THIS year…
His Top 5 plays from 2016: 👇 pic.twitter.com/mVv1evkaCI
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) July 27, 2017
Walton was noted as being a good receiver and pass protector out of college who drew some comparisons to James White but was knocked for showing poor vision as decisiveness as an inside runner according to his NFL draft profile. Walton, who comes in at just 5’10” and 210 lbs, had a poor showing of straight-line speed at the combine with a 4.6-second 40-yard dash.
Walton managed 75 yards from scrimmage on 19 touches as a rookie for the Bengals but was released in the offseason after a series of arrests. He is looking for a fresh start in his home town with the Dolphins and so far has gotten it.
State of the Offense
Despite still being one of two winless teams in the league, the Dolphins have shown some signs of life over the last two weeks. They put up a season-high 21 points against the usually-tough Bills defense in Week 7 and followed that up by taking an early lead against the Steelers 14-0 in Week 8 before surrendering 27 unanswered points. Before Week 8, Walton was in a near-even timeshare with Kenyan Drake and was averaging 4.6 YPA compared to Drake’s 3.7 YPA. Drake had seen significantly more work in the passing game but as we know, Walton shines in that department and should show that with more opportunity now that Drake is out of the picture.
As a team, the Dolphins have unsurprisingly offered the lowest floor of all rushing attacks in the league with game flow never on their side as they’re constantly in comeback mode. Walton drew his first official start for the team in Week 6 against the Redskins where he handled just six carries for 32 yards (5.3 YPA) while catching five of six targets for 43 yards, giving him 75 yards from scrimmage on the day. Not earth-shattering, but impressive in a small sample. That success earned him more touches in Week 7 as he took 14 carries for 66 yards (4.7 YPA). Week 8 against the Steelers was his worst performance yet as a starter as he only managed just 35 yards on 11 carries against their tough run defense. He still led the team in rushing and continues to look better than the likes of Kalen Ballage who has looked like he’s pushing a dumpster uphill all season.
Going forward, I expect more stat lines like we saw from Walton in Week 6 where he was utilized in a more diverse manner. Game flow will never be in the Dolphins favor this season as we may not see them push for a win until they clash against their competitor for the worst team in the league this season, the Cincinnati Bengals. That matchup is set for Week 16. Without Drake in the mix, however, and Ballage offering no real threat as a runner, Walton should see double-digit touches every week and his role in the passing game could grow as well, making him less dependent on game script and giving him more upside, especially in PPR leagues. I wouldn’t be so bullish to label him a potential RB2 since the Dolphins won’t be given many opportunities to find the end zone this season, but a weekly flex play in deeper leagues is definitely a possibility given the volume Walton should see.
Something else working in Walton’s favor is his relatively easy strength of schedule over the second half of the season. When looking at fantasy points allowed to the position, the Dolphins rank inside the top 10 for easiest remaining schedule at RB. Here is a look at their upcoming matchups and how they rank in fantasy points allowed according to our matchup calendar:
- Week 9 vs. NYJ (12th)
- Week 10 at IND (24th)
- Week 11 vs. BUF (8th)
- Week 12 at CLE (10th)
- Week 13 vs. PHI (28th)
- Week 14 at NYJ (12th)
- Week 15 at NYG (11th)
- Week 16 vs. CIN (1st)
The only matchups here that are scary are Week 10 at Indy and Week 13 vs. Philly. Both teams have shut down opposing running games this season. Otherwise, you’re looking at six games against teams who rank inside the top 12 for most fantasy points allowed to RBs, including a gift-wrapped tilt against his former team, the Bengals, who have been the most generous to RBs this season in Week 16 which is generally fantasy championship week.
Walton is going to be cheap. He didn’t show well in his first game without Drake on Monday Night Football and no one is dying for a piece of the Dolphins offense. But at a position with so much volatility, a running back who has a clear path to double-digit touches each week is a must-own player. You’re immediately in a good spot to flex him in Week 9 if you’re struggling with either bye weeks or injuries and can play the matchups from there on based on his performance.
Worst case scenario, he doesn’t pan out and you spent nothing to acquire him. Best case scenario, he becomes a solid matchup-based starter who helps you get to the championship round where he gets that revenge game against the Bengals at home. It’s a low-risk/high-reward scenario that most haven’t caught onto yet based on his 34% ownership in Yahoo leagues. Grab him now and beat the rush before more people catch on.