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TRADING SPACES: Lamar Miller


By Luke Grilli, DFW Senior Writer and Co-Owner, @LGrilli88

// DFW / REDRAFT 2016 SERIES

KEY VITALS
After growing up, attending high school and playing college football in Miami, it was only fitting that Lamar Miller would be drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2012. A 4th-round pick that year, Miller was stuck behind Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas in his rookie season and didn’t see significant playing time. In 2013, Miller heard his number called more often as Reggie Bush moved on in free agency, signing a deal with the Detroit Lions. Still stuck in a time share with the underwhelming and fumble prone Daniel Thomas, Miller saw an increase in touches but didn’t really become a major fantasy factor until 2014 when he exceeded the 1,000 rushing yard mark for the first time. Miller also recorded 38 receptions, while finding the end zone nine times in his sophomore year. Miller’s performance that season cemented him as a RB2 and he followed up his 2014 breakout season with another solid 2015 campaign. The rushing yards dipped by about 200 total yards, but he increased his reception yards by about 100 yards and found the end zone 10 times. The numbers looked good in 2015, but they should have looked better. Miller was criminally underused by Joe Philibin in the first four games of the season before he was replaced as head coach by interim Dan Campbell. At that point, the offense started to revolve around Miller and he turned into a borderline RB1. There were still a few games where Miller disappeared or the Dolphins refused to give him the ball — but all in all, he was an impactful fantasy football running back in 2015. Once the 2015 season was over, Miller was a free agent and expressed a desire to head back to Miami. The feelings were lukewarm from the Dolphin side and Miller ultimately signed with the Houston Texans to the tune of four years $26 million. Miller will go from being an underutilized running back to an offense that is known for feeding their running back 25+ times a game.

 

CAREER STATISTICS

YearTeamGamesGames StartedRush AttRush YardsYPCRush TDRecRec YdsRec TD
2015Miami Dolphins16161948724.58473972
2014Miami Dolphins16162161,0995.18382751
2013Miami Dolphins16151777094.02261700
2012Miami Dolphins131512504.916450
Total61486382,9304.6191178873


FANTASY OUTLOOK

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During the whole free agency process, I was keeping an eye on the Lamar Miller news. He was one of my favorite players to watch in 2015 (when he was used right of course) and I was hoping for a favorable landing spot. With that being said, I was thrilled when he signed with the Houston Texans who had just released the elite, yet oft-injured Arian Foster, who was recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon. Last season, we saw RB1 production from Lamar Miller on an inconsistent basis due to the Dolphins game plan or usage of Miller. Barring injury, we won’t see the same thing in 2016 now that he has landed in Houston. Head coach Bill O’Brien has brought in a new quarterback in Brock Osweiler who is still learning the ropes and a new offense. Question — What’s the best thing for a young quarterback? Answer: A reliable running back and receiver out of the backfield to take pressure off him, of course. We saw Miller have his best season as a receiver in 2015 and I expect him to top that in 2016. There is a real chance that he will not only rush for 1,000 yards again, but also catch 60 balls out of the backfield. I’m confident enough in Miller that I’d be willing to take him with a late 1st/early 2nd round pick this upcoming draft season.

FFWIMAGE-TexansNEW TEAM IMPACT

Houston misses the good ole days of Arian Foster being elite and not tearing every muscle in his body. They let their former workhorse go in favor of the younger and less injury prone Lamar Miller. Houston fans, get ready to fall in love with this guy. As I mentioned above, this moves helps the passing game almost as much as the running game. Last year, the Texans basically had one consistent target in the passing game and that was DeAndre Hopkins. After bringing in rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, they have projects but no sure thing opposite Hopkins. Miller won’t line up as a receiver often, but he will probably be Brock Osweiler’s second check down more often than not. I’m gushing about Miller as a receiving threat, but we have to remember that his main task will be running the ball and he is a significant upgrade from the less than mediocre Alfred Blue and/or Jonathan Grimes. Houston’s potentially explosive offense coupled with that defense is scary to think about.

FFWIMAGE-DolphinsOLD TEAM IMPACT

The Dolphins seemed OK with letting Lamar Miller walk, or at least wanted to retain him but at a significant hometown discount. With big money committed to Ryan Tannehill and Ndamkuong Suh (and at the time money earmarked for Olivier Vernon’s franchise tag) they probably didn’t want to spend  ton of dough on their former 4th-round running back, especially since they drafted Jay Ajayi who was a high production running back at Boise State. Ajayi is destined to be the every down back in South Beach with 2015 3rd round pick Kenyan Drake spelling him on passing downs. Damien Williams could come in and steal some work, but Ajayi will be the leader of this quasi RBBC. If Ajayi can be an impact player like he was in college, Lamar Miller could be an afterthought in Miami.