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Lamar Miller was a surprise fantasy asset in 2014, ending as the No. 9 running back. His closing line was: 216 rushes for 1,099 yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 38 receptions for 275 yards, and one receiving touchdown. As of August 6, 2015, Miller has an ADP of 39 overall and is the 17th running back off the board. Are people expecting Milli Vanilli Part Deux? I can understand the trepidation in backing Miller. There have been many instances where players have taken fantasy owners on the Buster Douglas elevator. 2006 Cadillac Williams and 2013 Doug Martin are the two that instantly come to mind.

Entering 2015, there are six running backs that are rock solid: Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Le’Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch, and C. J. Anderson. After that, things get murky and question marks abound. Miller has an excellent chance to make hearts of fantasy degenerates everywhere flutter…

[findthebest id=”jySxAAFzJNr” title=”Lamar Miller Overview” width=”600″ height=”520″ url=”//www.findthebest.com/w/jySxAAFzJNr” link=”http://football-players.pointafter.com/l/14274/Lamar-Miller” link_text=”Lamar Miller Overview | PointAfter”]

OFFENSIVE LINE – Games are won and lost in the trenches. According to Pro Football Focus, the Dolphins had the worst offensive line in 2014. They allowed a combined 210 sacks, hits, hurries, and were equally atrocious in the run game. The big blow was losing LT Branden Albert to injury and having to move Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey to guard.

Even with that “offensive” line, the Dolphins still managed to churn out 350.1 yards/game (14th), score 24.2 points/game (11th), and rush for 1,872 yards/game (12th). Branden Albert is expected to return and man the left tackle position. NFL All-Rookie, Ja’Wuan James, who moved to LT after the Albert injury, will slot back to RT. C Mike Pouncey will return to his preferred position. The two guard positions may be manned by Billy Turner and Jamil Douglas, both young players. Regardless, the line should be much improved.

BILL LAZOR – Offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, had a successful debut for the Dolphins. He incorporated many of the Chip Kelly philosophies and coaxed career years out of Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller.

The Dolphins ran 1,040 plays from scrimmage (12th). Third-down percentage was 40% (17th), but they were No. 28 in the number of attempts at 200. The Dolphins only had 399 rush attempts, which translated to 24.9 attempts/game for No. 22 in the league.

Knowshown Moreno, who was signed in the off-season, was the lead running back until he dislocated his elbow early in the year. Miller became the de facto running back with Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams filling out the depth chart. There was definitely hesitancy from the coaching staff to give Miller a full workload, as he was never given more than 20 carries in any game. As a result, Lazor put the ball in Tannehill’s hands and the Dolphins attempted 595 passes, which ranked them No. 12.

The foundation of the Chip Kelly offense is predicated on the run. When Moreno was the lead back, Lazor fed him for 20+ carries a game. After Miller replaced Moreno and showed that he can carry the load, Lazor now has confidence in Miller.

“There’s no doubt that Lamar can be an every down back,” Lazor told CBSSports.com.”My challenge to him, standing in the hallway outside the weight room in the offseason was, ‘Lamar, do you think you could get more carries?’ Of course he said yeah, which is what I’d expect. So my challenge (to him) was ‘Okay, get your body ready for more.'”

DOLPHINS DEFENSE – Last year, the Dolphins defense allowed 23.3 points/game (20th), conceded 343.4 yards/game (12th), and opponents ran 1,029 plays (19th). That’s all going to change in 2015 with the acquisition of Ndamukong Suh. Suh is a beast that will force opposing offensive lines to double team him. This will free up Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon on the edges to do what they do. Suh will also make it difficult for opposing run games as well.

With an improved defense, the offense should get more possessions. More possessions equates to more opportunities, which leads to fantasy goodness. If the defense is as good as advertised, that should mean more possessions late in games with the lead. While the yards/carry could decrease as a result, Miller could always break one at the end of the game when the opposing defense is worn down. Miller had one carry over 30 yards last year (a 97 touchdown run in week 17 against the Jets).

A by-product of having an improved defense is that the offense of the Dolphins can practice against an elite unit each and every week. When they get to the real games, they may feel a sense of relief and dominate the Suh-less line on the opposing side.

SHORT-YARDARGE AND CATCHING PROWESS – Miller converted 11-of-14 third-down rushing attempts from two yards or less in 2014. He has also added on 10 pounds of muscle to try and prepare for an increased load. This should only help him in short-yardage situations. Lazor was impressed with Miller last year in those situations.

“We got the ball in the red zone early and he put his shoulder down. He just pushed that thing in there and got the first down. I thought he played with that mind-set all year. So to me those third-and-1 situations, he understood it. He knew that it was a challenge and rose to the occasion.”

Miller is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. He was ranked as the No. 30 player in all of football with a 73.1% catch rate. To put that into perspective, Roy Helu was No. 1 with 89.4%, with Demarco Murray a close second with 87.1%. Miller had a better percentage then Shane Vereen, Randall Cobb, and Antonio Brown.

MAKE IT RAIN  C.R.E.A.M (Cash Rules Everything Around Me for the Wu-Tang deprived folk)… This is a contract year for Miller. No further analysis is needed on that front.

You remember Demarco Murray last year? The “injury-prone” Demarco Murray? The Cowboys rode him into the ground and got every ounce of production out of him before he hit the free agency market. 392 carries and 57 receptions.

I’m not saying that will happen with Miller, but C.R.E.A.M.

Reasons to blame it on the rain…

Current consensus projection on FantasyPros have Miller with:

ATT YDS TDS REC REC YDS REC TDS PTS
215.6 1,002.90 6.3 37.9 282.9 1.1 182.7

I think the attempts go up. Current projections have him for 13.5 carries/game. If he gets 16 carries/game, that’s 256 attempts. 11 running backs received 16 or more carries/game last year. If Miller holds up physically, the offense gets more possessions and is more effecient, and the Dolphins run Miller into the ground, then he could approach 300 carries/game. Granted, only two running backs achieved that number last year (Murray and McCoy) so I won’t get there…but I think it’s a possibility.

ATT YDS TDS REC REC YDS REC TDS PTS
256 1200 9 40 290 1 249

Jamaal Charles ended 2014 with 250 points in PPR scoring, which translated into the No. 7 running back.

Miller just doesn’t catch enough passes to challenge for the top five. Ending as the No. 6-10 running back is feasible I believe. That’s not bad for a third round pick.

 

 

You can follow Son on Twitter at Stan_Son.

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @RotoLance: Round 7 seems like great value there.

      • RotoLance

        RotoLance says:
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        @Jay: I’m glad Son wrote this because I love Lamar Miller this year. I’m not sure I love him at pick 30, but definitely not far after. In the 40s or later? My goodness.

        Also bear in mind the Yahoo round 7.0 refers to 10-team, but still.

    • Max

      Max says:
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      @Jay: @RotoLance: Insane value there, I have him as my 23rd ranked player with Foster and Mccoy injuries.

      Id take him late 2nd round if I need a RB or 3rd.

  1. Son

    Son says:
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    Even better value!!! The ADP data I used was from FantasyPros, which shows the consensus rankings from multiple sites.

    • RotoLance

      RotoLance says:
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      @Son: Yeah I like the use of FantasyPros consensus ADP and especially their consensus rankings. Hopefully the readers will inform themselves on the ADP from wherever they are drafting from. Miller, for example, is going much earlier on ESPN than Yahoo. In Yahoo I would be waiting for the 4th round of 12 team to draft him. On ESPN you need to go early 3rd on Miller.

      Without looking into it, I’m guessing that maybe this 30-pick ADP difference between Yahoo/ESPN is affecting more than just Miller. I would hazard to guess that the Forsett/Gore/Miller tier of RBs is generally going early in ESPN and late in Yahoo. That would seem to suggest that maybe instead of reaching for RBs ESPN drafters should be taking WRs or something else there and Yahoo drafters are letting RBs fall, becoming good values later.

      • Son

        Son says:
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        @RotoLance: Definitely. The price discrepancy offers opportunities to those that are aware.

  2. andy says:
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    Hey nice post. I like how you acknowledged the counter points. My main concern isnt if he can handle the workload, but if he’ll finally be given it. Its been way too frusterating in the past to see him lose carries to the likes of Daniel Thomas, but it sounds like Ajayi isnt quite there.

    I’ve mostly seen Miller lumped with the 2nd tier of RBs with Gore, Ingram, Forsett, and for some, Gordon. Is he ahead of those guys for you in standard? How about ppr? Thanks.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @andy: Thanks! I’d rank those rb’s as such: Standard-Miller, Ingram, Gore, Forsett, Gordon. In PPR, I’d rank them Miller, Forsett, Gore, Ingram, and Gordon. Health permitting, I think Miller gets run into the ground and the defense should provide more opportunities. There doesn’t seem anyone as of now to take carries away from him. Some negativity in regards to Ajayi. Ingram will get goal line carries and looked explosive last year. The Saints’ schedule looks to be one of the friendliest this year, but Spiller is there. Gore is going to an explosive offense but they may limit his carries and the online isn’t the best. Forsett should catch a ton of passes but a new coordinator is in town. Will Taliaferro and Allen take away carries? I put Gordon last because of the unknown. He was great in college but we haven’t seen him perform in the pros. Woodhead will take the third down duties so Gordon will become touchdown dependent.

      • @Son:
        Nice Post! I like Miller a lot this year too; especially for where you can get him. For me, it depends on what you think of the rest of the team. If you believe that Tannehill continues to improve, and the defense is that much better with Suh (both of which are more likely than not), than you draft Miller. That is a recipe for a late lead in a lot of games. Miller will earn his keep in the fourth quarter.
        **Disclaimer: Having said all that, running against Buffalo will be tough this year!

  3. Son

    Son says:
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    For sure. The Bills and the Jets are both going to have beastly defenses. Can’t forget about the Hoodie either. With that said, a big portion of my positivity towards Miller is due to the Lazor offense. Like Chip Kelly, he’s going to spread out a defense which provides creases for the running game. Tannehill being mobile only accentuates that advantage.

  4. Mike says:
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    14 team PPR, keep three in round they were drafted. 2 RB, 3 WR NO FLEX.

    Was offered:

    Miller, 2nd round pick and 4th round pick

    For

    My First round pick (#6) looking at Dez or Demaryius and my 6th round pick.

    Catch is you can’t keep any player drafted in rounds 1-3. My keepers would be miller/6th round value, Morris/14th round value and Kelce/8th round value. I’d also have two 2nds, one 3rd and two 4ths.

    Thoughts?

  5. Son

    Son says:
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    I like the trade for you. I’m obviously bullish on Miller, so keeping him in the 6th is great. Morris and Kelce are good value as well. Picking up the extra 2nd and 4th round picks are golden. Although you lose your 1st (Dez or Demarius), you may be able to draft both Jordy Nelson AND AJ Green, depending on where the picks are and how the rest of your league drafts.

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