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Lamar Miller Gets a Boost? Heck, No!


The news hit as a bit of a stunner on the RotoBaller SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio show with myself and Anthony Aniano Sunday morning. D’Onta Foreman was being waived by the Houston Texans. The immediate reaction was of some disbelief, and maybe some overreaction about the fallout.

Ever since he was drafted in 2017, Foreman was projected to be a serious threat to the playing time of Lamar Miller. But Achilles’ issues prevented him from ever making a realistic push for playing time. Last year, the Texans had a plan to ultimately have Miller and Foreman share playing time. That timeshare never materialized, but the pre-training camp reports indicated that such a split in playing time could become the norm in 2019. Because Miller never scored more than six total TDs in any season as a Texan, I expected Foreman to become Houston’s premier TD threat and at least emerge as a viable flex starter. Besides, I reasoned, Miller was in a contract year and the Texans may eventually want to ease the transition into Foreman being their lead RB.

Foreman was reportedly in fine shape and on July 27, Bill O’Brien publicly said he had high expectations for him this season. So I confidently took Foreman in the ninth round of the Friday SuperFlex FLEX draft at the SiriusXM studios on Friday. The next turn of events involving Foreman was quite eerie indeed.

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The Foreman Factor

Just a few minutes before Foreman was released, Anthony asked me about my selection of him and I responded confidently. Then, O’Brien quickly reminded us of two fantasy truths we can never forget: Coaches are always misrepresenting the truth to the media, and fantasy analysts like me are not always going to be right. The best of us are good at what we do, but we are certainly not perfect.

Then the question, as it often does, came quickly as usual when one notable player is eliminated from very relevant fantasy situation: Does Lamar Miller’s value rise because Foreman is out of the picture? I immediately responded that I would not boost him significantly in my rankings, and Anthony seemed to agree.

On social media, I saw a lot of talk that all of a sudden, Miller’s fantasy appeal was lifted because of the exodus of Foreman. I had some trouble wrapping my mind about it. That led to a debate between me and Michael Fabiano of NFL.com.

I submitted that his value did not take a leap forward because Miller was going to be the same guy he was the last three years in Houston. Then Mike clarified his position by responding: “No one said Miller would be better than in past years, but drafting him isn’t as big a risk now with no Foreman.”

The first part of last quote from Mike is what needs to be understood. “No one said Miller would be better than in past years.” All over social media I saw mentions of Miller becoming a workhorse and getting increased opportunities now, and his value and appeal would be boosted. Because there was no real threat to his playing time now.

But the key point to remember is Miller ultimately had no real threat to his playing time the last three years. We heard the same talk when Miller left Miami for Houston after the 2016 season. He was going to see an increased workload and become a more significant contributor. But that never happened. For three seasons as a Texan, Miller has been nothing better than adequate. He’s never displayed any real upside or been a guy owners widely credited when they fielded dominant Fantasy teams.

Miller finished as fantasy RB24 in PPR last year after 16 weeks of official play in most formats. That made him barely a back-end RB2 by such standards. But he only averaged 12.2 points per game. That ranked 27th among RBs. So Miller was on the RB2/RB3 cusp, with more of a lean to the latter side. That is really who he is, and he doesn’t get pushed up much from that territory by the loss of a guy who never truly threatened his status at all previously.

Miller had four 100-yard outings in 14 games last year and only caught 25 passes. He simply does not get in the end zone enough. He had six games in which he rushed for less than 50 yards. He is unreliable and has no real promise to improve on what we have already seen from him. The offensive line may be slightly better this year, but is still a work in progress.

The argument for Miller from some is more opportunity, but opportunity does not always lead to optimum production. We’ve already seen Miller operate as a featured RB with enough opportunity and not amount to enough to satisfy most of us.

 

What Is Miller's Value Then?

Miller has an FFPC ADP of 30 right now, and I cannot see that moving up more than a few spots from that area. Savvy high stakers know we will get the same ho-hum Miller we have seen before. I have him ranked 31st, but cannot see elevating him much from that rank, either. I won’t argue with anyone if they move him to say, 26th or 27th. But he’s nothing more than the RB3 he was last season.

Meanwhile, Foreman must now prove he can rebound and possibly win the backup job to Marlon Mack in Indianapolis. Otherwise, he will forever become remembered as the next coming and going of Christine Michael. But then again, Michael did have a few good "tease" performances in his career.

As for who will be Miller’s handcuff? That is why you should not overlook exhibition gameplay. Undrafted rookies Damarea Crockett and Karan Higdon are two guys to watch, along with Josh Ferguson.

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