Fantasy Football: Will Lamar Miller’s value drop in 2017?

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller is a tempting running back option for fantasy football owners in 2017, but is his value on the decline?

Last season was a career year for Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller. With a career-high 268 attempts on the ground, Miller was the definition of a workhorse for the Texans. Those attempts led to 1,073 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Miller also proved valuable in the passing game, accounting for 31 receptions, 168 yards, and a touchdown. Those are not Matt Forte-level numbers, but they were critical for a team that simply couldn’t pass the ball effectively.

After a big year for the Texans running back, it may be tempting to eye him as an up and coming fantasy football option that could give an owner the edge. He isn’t going to be a first or second round selection, but the selections in the mid rounds are what make a fantasy football team a contender or a pretender. Striking gold with the right player that nobody else was thinking about is critical to fantasy success.

Unfortunately, Lamar Miller may not be that player in 2017.

With quarterback Deshaun Watson likely to reinvigorate the passing game, the Texans may not need to pound the rock as much as they did last season. Miller’s 268 carries were sixth in the NFL last season, but with a passing game that is no longer fronted by Brock Osweiler, the Texans will not have to rely so much on Miller to be the focal point of the offense. Even a competent quarterback can get more touches to dangerous wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (among other weapons).

Yet the biggest difference may in the backfield. The running back stable in Houston is swelling before the 2017 season with plenty of viable options to be used. Alfred Blue is back after a 410-yard campaign in 2016. He has the talent to eat into Miller’s carries all on his own. But he is also joined by rookie D’Onta Foreman, the 2017 third-round selection who will expect to see the ball for at least a few touches each game. Tack on Akeem Hunt, and the Texans are beginning to see a logjam at the position.

While Miller is certainly still at the top of the depth chart, don’t be shocked to see the Texans go to more of a running back by committee approach or even a flavor-of-the-week approach. The team is expecting competition among the group (per ESPN) and will let the players settle into roles as they out-work and out-perform each other. In the words of running backs coach Charles London:

I think we probably need to balance his workload a little bit more, we need to be able to use the diversity we have in the group so we can definitely have Lamar at his best in December and January.

It is certainly possible to see Miller cede some of his carries to the others as a result. The Texans haven’t been shy about going with the hot hand in different situations, even at quarterback. Whether for balance or simply because someone is pulling ahead, Miller may not be the workhorse any longer.

While the fantasy football season is still months away and training camp could shake things up further, as owners look to their teams to try to get an early edge, it may be wise to move away from considering Miller as a starter on the team.

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