lamar-miller-2

Hey, any of you guys see where my offensive line went?

Hey guys, I get it, risk is scary. Most people go their entire lives doing whatever they can to avoid risk. No matter what it is, people avoid risk like I avoid poison ivy and country music. Well consider me to be the fantasy version of the tacky motivational poster on your boss’s wall. Throughout my years as a fantasy football player, I’ve come to know a few things to be true. Never draft a Mike Shanahan coached running back, never draft a QB in the first round, and those who take risks, win. Some of the best picks I’ve made have been some of my riskiest over the years. For example, Randy Moss in 2007 was going rounds after other top receivers after a futile stay in Oakland and a Training camp of DNP’s. What ensued was pure fantasy magic as the combo of Moss and Brady carried several of my teams to Payout City. Think of all the players that avoided Peyton Manning last year coming off of neck surgery. Now think of all the laughs the owners had who took the risk on Manning, as they cashed the more conservative owners checks.

It’s funny, because when I look at Lamar Miller‘s ADP, I’m struck by a few things. First, how much of a hit an oft-injured, out of shape Knowshon Moreno had on Miller’s value. Hey I get it, the guy was good last year and his premier pass-pro ability keeps him on the field, but this ain’t Denver, and he’s going to have to be even better if he’s going to produce like a lead back. In this sense, Moreno is already behind the 8-ball, as he showed up to camp out of shape and almost immediately suffered a knee injury. Needless to say, I’m not convinced he’s going to cut into Miller’s workload much more than Daniel Thomas did last season. This leads me to my second point, look at some of the RB’s in more competitive committee situations that are going ahead of Miller. Just to name a few– Ray Rice, Toby Gerhart, Reggie Bush, Frank Gore, and Shane Vereen. Are all of those players really better bets to handle a greater workload than Miller? Gore is breaking down and has Carlos Hyde on his tail, Ray Rice is going to miss at least two games for his suspension, is breaking down, and could lose his job to Bernard Pierce at a moments notice. As for Gerhart, MJD did nothing in Jacksonville last season and he’s better than Gerhart even in his current geriatric state. As for Bush and Vereen, I’m not sure either will stay healthy or handle anymore than 50% of their teams touches. Miller is sounding better right? Good, that’s how I planned it.

Some of the other things that have me excited about Miller are his age, ability, and potential to expand his role in the passing game. I’ve come to the same conclusion most fantasy owners have over the last five years, and that conclusion is when it comes to RB’s, younger is better. Don’t get me wrong, there are exceptions to every rule, but ball carriers usually have 3-4 years of operating at maximum effectiveness. Miller is just 23 and has averaged 4.2 YPC over his 228 career attempts, including an eye-popping 4.9 YPC in 2012. The YPC dropped to 4.0 last year, but anybody who watched the Fins knows that was maybe the worst O-Line in football. Miller’s circumstances have held him back more than anything else. I’m hoping some good luck can change that. With Moreno as fragile as fine China, what’s to say Miller couldn’t tote the rock 240+ times, plus expand his role as a receiver? I think it happens. Miller caught 26 balls last year and I don’t see any reason he can’t improve in that area. He’s already clearly the better back in camp according to all reports coming out of Miami and he seems poised to be an under the radar breakout candidate. In a few drafts I’ve watched Miller go as late as the 9th round. For even a solid committee back (which is Miller’s floor) that’s late. For a guy who could be a solid RB2/Flex play it’s criminally underrated.

I’m not saying Miller is going to carry you to a championship but he’ll be a useful part of your RB rotation. The days of workhorse backs are gone. In today’s fantasy landscape you need a deep pool of options to pull your running backs from. You need to be able to exploit matchups against poor defenses weekly, and grabbing as many backs as possible is the only way to do that. I’ve been coming away from the draft table with 5 RB’s on my rosters about 80% of the time.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @YUnited: yes he also had a sweet line in his head. I’m all for shaved in parts.

  1. Chicken Dinner says:
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    Don’t think you meant to put Gerhart on that list.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Chicken Dinner: I don’t like Gerhart. I think he’s got huge bust potential.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: I suppose I shouldn’t have considered him in a committee situation like the others. Though I do love Jordan Todman and think by year end he could be the starter. Truthfully my Todman love has a lot to do with us sharing a hometown (sort of).

  2. MDN says:
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    I drafted Miller a few weeks ago in the 6th and felt like I was reaching but needed a back. This makes me feel good. Still feel like I need to take a flier on someone to solidify my backfield. Here’s my team (12-team, half ppr):

    RGIII
    Big Ben
    Ellington
    L. Miller
    MJD
    K. Moreno
    D. McCluster
    Julio Jones
    B. Marshall
    P. Garcon
    John Brown
    Gronk
    C. Clay
    Kelce

    Any recommendations?

    Thanks,
    MDN

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @MDN: I like the receivers, good depth at TE, love Ellington. Unless it’s a two QB league I would drop Big Ben and pickup another back. What sort of options are available on the wire? Any rookies like Hyde (probably not), West, or even James White? How about other guys like Michael from Seattle or even Pierre Thomas? What’s out there? Give me 5 or 6 options you’re considering.

      • MDN says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:. Rodgers , C. Michael and Taliaferro are the ones I’ve considered adding. The guys you mentioned above aren’t avail, unfortunately. The added wrinkle is that we can only hold up to 5 RB’s. McCluster, who I consider the last man of that group, is intriguing because of what his role might be and that he returns kicks and/or punts, which scores in our league.

        Do consider McCluster a solid enough option to roll with as a backup until there’s clarity with guys like Michael and Taliaferro?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @MDN: Sit tight

  3. MDN says:
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    J. Rodgers, C. Michael and Taliaferro are the ones I’ve considered adding. The guys you mentioned above aren’t avail, unfortunately. The added wrinkle is that we can only hold up to 5 RB’s. McCluster, who I consider the last man of that group, is intriguing because of what his role might be and that he returns kicks and/or punts, which scores in our league.

    Do consider McCluster a solid enough option to roll with as a backup until there’s clarity with guys like Michael and Taliaferro?

  4. DiRo says:
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    What do you think for a standard 12 team ESPN league, I drafted 11th overall. My only real regret is not getting Jennings, I took Gore instead but at least I handcuffed myself with Hyde whom I like a lot. QB’s went fast and the only better option was Wilson at the time in round 7 or 8 I think. I could have also gone Vereen over Johnson, but this is non PPR.

    QB: Philip Rivers
    RB: Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, Terrance West, Carlos Hyde, Tre Mason
    WR: Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, Brandon LaFell
    TE: Travis Kelce
    PK: Dan Bailey
    TD: St. Louis Rams

    Thanks again for the advice/help/team review.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @DiRo: Wow good receivers, solid RB depth I would have gone Vereen over Johnson but it’s non-PPR and I have a Pats bias.

      • DiRo says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: haha, I am a Pats fan so it kind of hurt going with Johnson. I know rex loves using his RB’s in the goal line and the Pats have a lot of RB’s to work in even though I think Vereen gets the most consistent work with their good assign game,

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @DiRo: If Vereen is healthy for 16 games he’ll be great. That worries me. He looked amazing last night.

  5. Ryan says:
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    “I’ve been coming away from the draft table with 5 RB’s on my rosters about 80% of the time.”
    I’m glad you mentioned this last thing because I have been noticing the same thing happening in my mocks (and a 10 team league we did tonight for my girlfriends work league.)
    PS if you think you can do a draft on your iphone, you are not going to be happy with what comes out of it…

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Ryan: Haha I did a draft in a bar last night with no cheat sheet and a horrific country cover band turned up to 11. An iPhone draft sounds like heaven.

  6. Brian says:
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    Love the columns so far- keep em coming!

    Looking for some advice in my money league.

    I’m in a 12-team non-ppr with standard scoring- 1 QB-2 RB-2 WR-1 FL-1 TE-1 DEF. Keeper league where you get to keep guys four rounds earlier than you picked them the year before (ie I drafted Montee Ball in the 6th last year so I can keep him in the 2nd this year).

    My keepers:
    – M Ball 2nd rd/22nd pick
    – L Bell 4th rd/46th pick
    – A Morris 7th rd/75th pick (drafted him when he was a rookie)
    – M Crabtree 10th rd/118th pick

    I have the #3 pick overall. Easily have the best keepers in the league (actually don’t think there are any other RBs kept) so I have a huge advantage from the get-go.

    Thinking of trading my #3 and #26 picks for someone’s 1st/2nd round picks so I can grad Calvin Johnson in the 1st and get a stud QB (Brees, Manning or Rodgers) on the turn. Unfortunately no one wants to trade so I may be stuck with my picks (just one of those leagues where no one wants to trade). Also trying to dish out one of my keepers for a 2nd round pick, but again, no takers.

    If I end up having to pick at No 3, do I still go with Calvin Johnson given my RB depth, or do I take Charles/Peterson/McCoy and just go with four top RBs and try to move one down the road since I only can play 3 each week?

    Any input in much appreciated.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Brian: I’d go Calvin and another receiver with your next pick, which I believe would be a 3rd rounder. I think you’re almost all set at RB. I’d grab one in the 5th and then another bench option later. You could hold off on QB’s. With your setup you sort of can’t go wrong.

  7. G says:
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    Nice article..starting to change my mind on Miller after reading it.

    Asked others, but wondering your opinion on having the 12th (and 13th) pick of a PPR draft this year. Would you go two recievers (seems like Julio and Marshall are always there in mocks), or draft ellington and top WR. May be slightly early for ellington but like him a lot and know he wont be available for my third pick. A couple mocks I could have taken Gio and Ellington for my first two picks also. Im leaning with the RB/WR option. Final question, who do you personally like between Ellington and Gio if both available and only want to take one. I think Elligton has higher upside but with worse schedule. Thanks in advance.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @G: It’s tough to say regarding draft strategy. It’s really what you like or feel comfortable with. I’ve transitioned from a RB/RB zealot to an advocate of the upside down strategy. I just see more value in the top flight receivers available at the end of the first beginning of the second.

      As for your second question, I like Ellington more than Gio. Don’t get me wrong Gio is very good but Hill could cut into his playing time. So I give the advantage to Ellington.

  8. Clint says:
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    I don’t know what to make of Miami’s RB situation. The Moreno signing seems to indicate they want him to lead the pack but his being out of shape seems to indicate he’s partially in the doghouse already. Then again, Miller’s never literally taken the job and run with it after how many years of having the chance at it now? I think the key’s that in the Philbin/GB offense, you need a pass catching RB and Moreno’s proven he can do that so he’s probably going to get the majority of touches any the hoo.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      ralph lifshitz says:
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      @Clint: Okay couple things, Miller’s had two years and he was the guy last year behind a bad line. His rookie year he was behind Reggie Bush in Bush’s career year. The Moreno contract wasn’t much of anything it was one year at $3 mil. That indicates they want him to take the job? I think they needed a second option because Daniel Thomas isn’t good enough.

      I’m also not solid on Moreno as anything other than a pass pro master. I’m not sure he’s the answer as a receiver. BTW the Phins didn’t throw much to the rb’s last year either.

      Moreno is going to get looks and plenty of play, but I think by years end Lamar Miller could be a very good RB2. He’s a better runner than Moreno, he just never got the chance to play in a great offense (like Moreno did). This time last year we all thought Moreno was 3rd on the Broncos depth chart.

      • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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        @ralph lifshitz: very many forget that last line there.

  9. Mike says:
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    I hAve the 3 pick. Take a top 3 running back or Peyton?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      ralph lifshitz says:
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      @Mike: What kind of scoring? I’d probably go with an RB. Unless it’s a 6 point passing TD league with two QB’s. Then go Peyton.

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