Don't count Lamar Miller out of Fantasy draft plans yet! Miller was a let-down for the Texans and Fantasy owners alike last season (four games with 10-plus Fantasy points) but came to training camp slimmer than he had been and it paid off. Early reports say Miller is quicker and a better route-runner than he had been in the past. Miller then admitted he got a little heavy and cut weight -- now he's playing at the same number as his rookie year. Between that and teammate D'Onta Foreman's slow recovery from a torn Achilles, Miller is in the driver's seat of regaining his full workload with Houston. It's worth noting that in 30 games with the Texans spanning two seasons, Miller averaged 82.5 total yards with 12 total touchdowns. That's not bad. Foreman might eventually threaten Miller's precious touches, but until the timetable for that becomes clearer, Miller's firmly in the No. 2 Fantasy running back conversation and worth a pick between Rounds 4 and 5. One might opt to also pick up Foreman as a handcuff in the late rounds to further lock up the Texans run game.
Miller had four carries for 29 yards in Houston's preseason opener against Kansas City on Thursday. Miller played just one series and showed off his lighter, sleeker body, particularly on a 19-yard run up the left sideline. That type of explosion was something many thought Miller lacked last season, but he showed it off on the game's opening series. He was followed in the game by Alfred Blue, then Troymaine Pope and Tyler Ervin.
With D'Onta Foreman still recovering from an Achilles tear, Miller likely will keep his roster spot and starting job heading into the 2018 season, NFL.com's Greg Rosenthal reports. Once Foreman began making a push in the middle of his rookie campaign, there was some thought Miller could be a cap casualty following the second season of the four-year, $26 million contract he signed in 2016. Given the severity of Foreman's injury in combination with the Texans' decision not to make any major offseason additions to their backfield, Miller now appears safe to make it into the third year of his deal. It's still quite possible he'll need to fend off a challenge from Foreman at some point in the year, considering Miller has averaged 3.9 yards on 506 carries in 30 games for the Texans.
Miller won't necessarily be back with the Texans in 2018, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com reports. Miller knows coach Bill O'Brien's offense and is competent as a runner, receiver and blocker, but the veteran back displayed little in the way of explosiveness or elusiveness in 2017 when he was held to 888 yards and three touchdowns on 238 carries (3.7 average). He partially made up for it by catching 36 of 45 targets for 327 yards and three scores, but his per-touch production was still far removed from his time in Miami, where he consistently made the most of modest workloads. Entering the third season of a four-year, $26 million contract, Miller probably won't be released right when the new league year begins March 14, but he eventually could become expendable if the Texans bolster their backfield via free agency or the draft. Given that the team has plenty of cap space and D'Onta Foreman is recovering from a torn Achilles, it makes sense for the Texans to take their time evaluating Miller's future.
Miller had eight carries for 37 yards in Sunday's 22-13 loss to the Colts. For the second consecutive week, Miller had fewer touches than backup Alfred Blue, but given the current state of the Texans' season, we don't see this as anything other than Houston taking it easy on Miller. The 26-year-old back finished with 888 yards and a career-low 3.7 yards per carry. The offensive line had problems generating holes for him all season, but that wasn't a problem when Deshaun Watson (knee) was healthy. In the seven games Watson played, Miller averaged 89 yards from scrimmage and scored four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving). Over the final nine games without the rookie quarterback, he averaged 66 yards and scored twice. The offense in 2018 should revolve around Watson and the passing game, which will lead to more production out of Miller.
Miller rushed 10 times for 55 yards while catching his lone target for 10 more yards in Monday's 34-6 loss to the Steelers. Miller topped 5.0 yards per carry for only the third time this season, but he was outplayed by Alfred Blue, who averaged 6.8 yards per attempt on his 16 rushes for a total of 108 yards. The two running backs will likely split work in next week's finale against the Colts, though it's worth noting Miller is the superior pass catcher between them. Miller has produced between 51 and 61 yards on the ground in 10 of 15 games this season, so don't be surprised if he falls in that range again in Indianapolis.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/09||@New England Patriots||17||17.47|
|3||09/23||New York Giants||21||17.88|
|15||12/15||@New York Jets||24||18.50|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||233||944||5||38||304||2||164|