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Player Spotlight: Lamar Miller

A detailed projection of the fantasy prospects for Lamar Miller in 2016

Setting the Stage

Lamar Miller attended Killian High School in suburbs south of Miami, Florida. He was named to the 2008 Parade All-America team after he rushed for 1,749 yards and scored 22 touchdowns as a senior. Miller was highly recruited out of high school and reportedly had 40 scholarship offers. He strongly considered Florida, Florida State, Clemson and LSU before accepting the offer from Miami to stay home.

Miller was red-shirted his initial season at Miami and first played in 2010. He played in 11 games, but started only one. He ended up with 108 carries for 646 yards and caught 11 passes for 96 yards, with 6 TDs. He also returned some kick-offs and punts, scoring an additional touchdown on a kick-off return.

Miller took over the starting role in 2011, his sophomore season and rushed for 1,272 yards with 17 receptions for 85 yards and also scored 10 TDs. He averaged 5.7 ypc in his two seasons at Miami. Following his second year, he declared for the 2012 NFL Draft.

His blend of quick feet on a powerful frame (5’-11” and 212 pounds) combined with a 4.40, the fastest running back’s 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine bolstered his position. He had documented track speed which was made more impressive by his lateral quickness. The concern was that he only played a full-time role for one season and tended to try to run like a power back, rather than use his athleticism.

Miller was drafted at 97th overall in the 4th round by his home town Miami Dolphins. He was the 8th running back out of 19 drafted that year. Of the running backs drafted in 2012, he has been the third most productive over their first four seasons, trailing only Alfred Morris with 5,071 total yards and Doug Martin with 4,679 yards. Most consider him the best of the three, only having not had ample opportunity with the Dolphins. Miller had 755 touches over four seasons compared with 976 by Martin and 1,125 by Morris.

All three signed free agent contracts this year and Martin and Miller were both highly regarded. Martin got five years for $36 Million with $15 Million guaranteed to remain in Tampa Bay. Miller signed for four years and $26 Million with $14 Million guaranteed from Houston. Morris only got two years for $3.5 Million from Dallas.

Career Statistics:

Year Team Games Rushes Yards ypr TDs Targets Rec Yards TDs
2012 Miami 13 51 250 4.9 1 8 6 45 0
2013 Miami 16 177 709 4.0 2 35 26 170 0
2014 Miami 16 216 1,099 5.1 8 52 38 275 1
2015 Miami 16 194 872 4.5 8 57 47 397 2
Total   61 638 2,930 4.6 19 152 117 887 3

Looking Forward to 2016

Bill O’Brien returns for his third season as head coach of the Texans. George Godsey is back for his second year as offensive coordinator. He was the quarterback coach in 2014, with O’Brien acting as the offensive coordinator.

O’Brien has been known for his ability to get good production out of his quarterbacks. Christian Hackenburg started in O’Brien’s last year at Penn State as a true freshman and posted his career best completion percentage (58.9%) and yards per attempt (7.5). A review of his two seasons at Penn State reveals that his offense ran more than they passed. In 2011, O’Brien’s only season as New England’s offensive coordinator, Tom Brady set career highs in passing yardage (5,235) and yards per attempt (8.57).

Contrary to the expectations of O’Brien providing quarterback success, the Texans two seasons have been marked by poor quarterback play. A year ago, five different quarterbacks played and none started more than four straight games. In the past off-season, they attempted to solve that problem by signing Brock Osweiler to a four-year $72 Million contract with $37 Million guaranteed. He arrives with limited experience, having started only 8 games in four seasons in Denver. Osweiler’s contract will bring significant scrutiny to himself and O’Brien in 2016, but will his addition bring more focus on the passing game?

The Texans offense does feature plenty of speed with the potential to stretch defenses. Will Fuller drafted in the first round has 4.37 speed and should produce a deep threat. Jalen Strong, their second year wide receiver ran a 4.44. Sending these two deep can really open up the field for the shifty Miller.

Positives

• Miller’s strengths seem to mirror Arian Foster’s who was an effective work horse in this system
• Miller is only 25 years old and comes with limited use from college and his four NFL seasons
• Despite limited opportunities in Miami, Miller finished as RB9 and RB6 the past two years

Negatives

• Osweiler is new to the offense and largely unproven
• The offensive line is not thought to be a strength of the Texans
• Miller only has two games in four seasons with more than 20 carries

Final thoughts

Lamar Miller is an excellent athlete that produced 4.59 ypc in Miami over four seasons. He is also effective as a receiver out of the backfield, averaging 37 receptions the past three years. He is easily the best running back on the roster and along with DeAndre Hopkins be the focus of the offensive game plan. There is always a question with lightly used and talented running backs, will Houston give Miller the chance to be the man? And if they do, will he be able to hold up all season? To his credit, he has only missed three games in four years and all of those came in his rookie season.

Projections

Name Games Rushes Yards TDs Rec Yards TDs
David Dodds 16 265 1,193 8 51 418 2
Bob Henry 16 230 1,040 8 47 370 2
Jason Wood 16 270 1,400 8 50 380 2
Maurile Tremblay 16 208 929 7 59 473 2
Stephen Holloway 16 240 1,080 8 55 410 1

Other’s Thoughts

Jeremy Eisenberg of CBSSports.com  2016 Fantasy Football Dilemnas: Lamar Miller Could be No. 1 RB

The knock on Lamar Miller has always been that he was underutilized with the Dolphins during the first four years of his career. Well, that's about to change with the Texans.

Houston coach Bill O'Brien saw firsthand in 2015 what Miller is capable of when he had 14 carries for 175 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown against the Texans in Week 7. That helped Miller earn a four-year, $26 million contract, and he might be overused for the first time ever. "From a skill-set standpoint, all you have to do is turn on the tape from our game against them," O'Brien told me this offseason. "Speed. Quickness. I think he's decent in the passing game, so we're going to be able to use him there. I think we've got a good player there."

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle RB Lamar Miller will have diverse role with Texans

Drifting out of the backfield on a swing pass, Texans running back Lamar Miller froze a linebacker with a sudden jab step before accelerating away from pursuit for a gain up the sideline.

It was a snapshot during organized team activities last week of how Miller could impact the overhauled Texans offense as an all-purpose threat and a reminder of how he shredded the AFC South champions' defense last season while playing for Miami.

Phil Alexander in his Player Comments on Footballguys.com – Miller was hyper-efficient last season, tying DeAngelo Williams for the league lead in PPR fantasy points per touch (minimum 200 touches). The problem, of course, was that Miller received less than 15 carries in eight games last season. He’ll have none of the same workload concerns as a member of the Texans. Houston tied for fifth in total rush attempts per game last season, and ran the most offensive plays in the NFL.