Old Faces in New Places: Lamar Miller

Aug 14, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) runs for a first down against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Old Faces in New Places: Lamar Miller

Player Movement

Old Faces in New Places: Lamar Miller

Lamar Miller felt underused and underappreciated in Miami, despite putting up top-10 fantasy running back numbers each of the past two seasons. The Houston Texans took care of the latter when they inked Miller to a four-year, $26 million contract this offseason to replace the aging, injured, and now departed Arian Foster. And you can expect Bill O’Brien to take care of the former this fall, much to the delight of Miller’s fantasy owners.

In Miami Miller averaged 11 carries and two receptions per game, accounting for 67 yards per game. Even if you remove his rookie season, in which he played in nine games and only touched the ball 57 times, those per-game numbers only climb to 12, 2.3 and 73.3. In that three-season span as the Dolphins starter Miller saw 62% of the backfield touches—and that number dropped to 57% last season as Jay Ajayi began to horn in on his action.

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And it’s not as if Miller demonstrated an inability to handle more work. In 22 games over the past three seasons in which he touched the ball at least 16 times he’s averaged 107 yards from scrimmage and scored 12 times. Those numbers are even better recently: 113 yards on 19 touches per game with 11 touchdowns over the past two seasons (16 games with 16 touches or more), and 119 yards on 20 touches per game with seven touchdowns in seven games with 16-plus touches last season.

So it’s no surprise Miller went looking for more opportunities in addition to a hefty payday. He found both in Houston where he’ll be tasked with replacing Foster, who when healthy saw more than two-thirds of the feature back workload for the Texans. More commonly that load was even larger; Foster accounted for at least 70% of running back touches in 10 of the last 14 games he both started and finished and a robust 80% or more of the workload in four of those games.

While the phrase “when healthy” is chained to Foster, the same needn’t be applied to Miller. He’s played in all 16 games each of the past three seasons; over that same span Foster has appeared in four, 13 and eight games—and left five of those 25 games early due to injury.

Then there’s the matter of sheer volume of touches. In Miami, Dolphins backs touched the ball an average of 23 times per game during Miller’s three-year run as the starter. Under Bill O’Brien, Texans RBs averaged 32 touches per game—and that’s with Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes seeing significant touches when Foster was sidelined.

So Miller, already a top-10 fantasy producer despite being underused, moves to a team where he’ll receive a larger portion of a larger volume of carries—and he’s already demonstrated the ability to stay healthy and hold up to such a workload. What’s not to love?

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