After getting 20 carries just once last
season, Lamar Miller should see an uptick in usage with Houston.
Fantasy impact in Miami
According to the Houston Chronicle, newly-signed Texans running
back Lamar Miller "had grown weary of being underutilized
in the Dolphins' offense."
Well, he rushed for more yards (1,272) and more attempts (227)
in twelve games at the University of Miami in 2011 than in any
of his 16-game NFL seasons with the Dolphins. Over his final three
seasons on South Beach, Miller averaged just 12.2 attempts per
game. After a 1,099-yard 2014 season, Miller become more of a
pass receiver in 2015 and that obviously didnít sit well
with the 215 lb. running back.
He also ran behind a very questionable offensive line. No, thatís
not right. To be more accurate he ran behind a bad offensive line.
According to Pro Football Focus they ranked 31st overall and last
No wonder he quickly left town and headed west.
Projected impact in Houston
In Bill OíBrienís first season at the helm, the head coach called
551 rushing plays. Last year, after star running back Arian
Foster went down to a season-ending injury, the Alfred
Blue-led backfield saw just 472 rushing attempts.
The heavier workload should return in 2016. This despite a drop
in efficiency according to PFF. The Texans offensive line ranked
fifth in 2014, but fell to 18th last season. That included a 24th-ranking
as a run-blocking unit. Still, thatís a lot better than
what he ran behind in Miami.
Houston also lost two key members of last seasonís offensive
line. Brandon Brooks signed with Philadelphia and Ben Jones heads
to division rival Tennessee, but the team immediately filled those
two spots with free agents Jeff Allen and Tony Bergstrom.
Still, the coach will try to protect his new starting quarterback,
Brock Osweiler, so that means sticking with the running game.
Remember, despite the fact that Osweiler will begin his fifth
NFL season, heís still very inexperienced. The former Denver
Broncos quarterback has started just seven games and thrown all
of 305 passes in his career.
Millerís four-year, $26 million deal, including $14 million
guaranteed, shouts workhorse. So does his skill set. He is a solid
runner and a very good receiver.
Sound familiar? It should. It describes Fosterís skill
Millerís 2016 fantasy value
The addition of Miller to the Texans backfield should do wonders
for his fantasy value. OíBrienís Texans have rushed the ball more
than any team not named Seattle over the past two seasons. Miller
will see a majority of the rushing workload and doesnít figure
to leave the field in passing situations either.
"I know in this offense, they get their running backs involved,"
Miller said recently. "I just wanted to be a part of that."
From 2010-15 Foster averaged 20 rushing attempts per game. Miller
should at least average 18 rushing attempts and three receptions
per week. Given Millerís career averages of 4.6 yards-per-carry
and 7.6 yards-per-reception, that projects to 1,324 rushing yards
and 364 yards receiving. Heís still not a bruising running
back, so eight touchdowns is a reasonable goal with low double-digits
the upper limit.
Doug Martin combined for a similar yardage total in 2015 with
seven scores to his credit and finished third among fantasy running
backs. Millerís explosiveness along with the coachís
affinity for the running game should put him in elite territory
next season and will certainly make him a top-five fantasy running
back in 2016.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.