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Is Lamar Miller Back to Fantasy RB2 Status?

I've been accused of being a Lamar Miller apologist over the last few seasons. Some of it is warranted, some of it way off-base. The crux of my pro-Miller argument has always been that you don't always need razzle-dazzle from the running back position. Sometimes it's perfectly acceptable to just be a consistent source of fantasy points. After all, an RB2 is an RB2 no matter how the player gets it done.

This year, however, it seemed as if time had run out on Miller. A half-dozen running backs have popped, Miller had a bit of a slow start, and again, he's not flashy. The question of whether it was time to bail on the guy started carrying more weight than usual.

Before I give a firm answer, I want to reiterate that running backs don't need to be exciting to be worthy of a fantasy start. Take someone like Alex Collins. The Ravens are in offensive turmoil this year with little reason to get excited about their playmakers. It's easy to look at Collins and say "He's only averaging nine fantasy points a game! The Ravens aren't that good! Javorius Allen eats into his workload!" All of those things are factual. You know what else is factual? That Alex Collins is currently RB21 in PPR, RB18 in standard. That's a fantasy RB2 whether you like it or not. He's not a superstar, he's not going to single-handedly win you a week, but he is, in fact, a usable RB2. Nine points a game is not exciting, but that is the current value of a low-end RB2 in 2018. It is what it is.

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Keep Running With Miller

That brings us back to Lamar Miller. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2014 with the Miami Dolphins, Miller has never finished lower than RB16. That includes both PPR and standard scoring. His high point came as a top-six fantasy running back in 2015. The RB16 season came after joining the Texans in 2016, when he actually missed two games. A healthy Miller would have likely cracked the top-12. And yet, with all that mind, he's never hit 15 fantasy points a game in any of those seasons.

People have a tendency to look at a player based on a points-per-game basis without considering the context. Those are solid, consistent, and reliable RB2 numbers. You're not going to get the 35-40 point game the way a Kareem Hunt will give you. That's not what you need from him. You don't draft him as someone to win a week all by himself.

If you apply this logic to 2018, you can bet I'm going to argue Miller has an RB2 outlook the rest of the way. He currently sits at RB26 in PPR, RB22 in standard. He's toeing the line as of Week 10 but that's ok. There are players above him that should taper off a bit. Backs like Latavius Murray, T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, Austin Ekeler, and Buck Allen won't have sustainable usage going forward because of other backs ahead of them getting more work the rest of the way. Miller should jump them fairly easily in the coming weeks. It's fair to question what backs are behind him, but there aren't many that should scare you. The only two with significant upside that stand out are Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. Beyond that it's a bunch of players who are either injured or in a timeshare. Things are trending up for Miller.

Those worried about the prospects of Alfred Blue or a healthy D'Onta Foreman eating into his workload should breathe easy. We've had this debate for three years now and it hasn't happened yet. I'd liken it to the tiresome chatter of "Julio Jones will get more red zone targets this year." Talk it up all you want, eventually, the thing you're projecting has to actually pan out. It hasn't yet, so until it does, don't sweat. Foreman has just barely been cleared to begin practicing for the first time this year.

Miller owners should be able to count on him for what he is, a consistent source of points. Adjust your expectations accordingly and you won't be disappointed. He's not going to turn any heads, he's not going to scare your opponent, he's not some shiny diamond encrusted accessary. He is what he is: a rock-solid RB2.

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