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Lamar Miller's Fantasy Potential Will Be Unleashed With Texans

By Jared Smola | Updated on Tue, 23 May 2023 . 1:27 PM EDT

We didn’t publish free agent rankings this year. But if we had, Lamar Miller would have been atop the RB group.

His 4.81 yards per carry over the past 2 seasons ranks 2nd among 29 RBs with 300+ attempts during that span. He also sits among the top 12 in catches (85) and receiving yards (672) since 2014. This is a 3-down back. And, oh, Miller turns just 25 in April — making him 2 years younger than Doug Martin, 3 years younger than Chris Ivory and 5 years younger than Matt Forte.

Underused in Miami, Featured in Houston

You might not have known just how good Miller has been the past 2 seasons, though, because he was criminally underutilized in Miami. He averaged just 12.8 carries per game — 24th league-wide — and topped 15 carries in only 8 of 32 games.

Volume shouldn’t be a problem in Houston. Miller’s backfield competition as of now reads: Alfred Blue, Akeem Hunt, Kenny Hilliard. We’ll see if the Texans add anything else in free agency or the draft, but they’re paying Miller like a feature back. His 4-year, $26 million deal makes him the league’s 8th highest paid RB in terms of average annual salary.

A Sneaky-Good Landing Spot

Houston wasn’t atop my list of best landing spots for Miller. But the more you dig into the situation, the better it looks.

The Texans finished 5th in rushing attempts this past year. Their 43.3% run rate ranked just 13th, but they benefitted from running a league-high 69.9 plays per game. Only 2 teams played at a faster offensive pace than Houston, so the high play total doesn’t look like a fluke.

HC Bill O’Brien clearly favors a run-leaning offense. In his 1st season at the controls, with a relatively healthy Arian Foster, the Texans led the NFL in rushing attempts and finished 2nd in run rate. That squad ranked 9th in plays per game and 14th in offensive pace.

O’Brien had no qualms with feeding Foster that year. He averaged exactly 20 carries per game — 2nd behind only DeMarco Murray — and toted it 20+ times in 9 of 13 outings. Foster also saw 4.5 targets per game.

Even with Foster out for the majority of this past season, O’Brien tended to rely on 1 clear lead back. Check out the number of carries Houston’s top RB garnered in each game last year.

Houston’s lead back saw at least 12 carries in 13 of 16 games. (Remember that Miller averaged 12.8 over the last 2 years.) The lead back toted it 18+ times in 7 different contests — and 4 of those came from Blue, who’s a below-average RB. Miller, by the way, has reached 18 carries just 8 times in his 4-year career.

How’d he fare in those 8 games?

Not bad.

Despite a relatively small sample, I don’t see any reason to worry about Miller’s ability to handle a bigger workload. He’s a well-built RB at 5’10 and 225 pounds.

So we’ve got an uber-efficient RB just entering his prime who’s a virtual lock to see an increased workload in 2016. I’d say Miller is primed for a breakout season, but the guy finished 5th among RBs in PPR points last year, despite all the issues in Miami. He’s an easy RB1 pick in 2016 fantasy drafts and has the potential to again crack the top 5.

Jared Smola Author Image
Jared Smola, Lead Analyst
Jared has been with Draft Sharks since 2007. He’s now Lead Analyst, heading up the preseason and weekly projections that fuel your Draft War Room and My Team tools. He currently ranks 1st among 133 analysts in draft rankings accuracy.
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