Fins Fantasy: Projecting Lamar Miller as a Fantasy Prospect for 2015

Hey, it’s me, Jacob, the fantasy football demigod that’s going to help you win some games this year. You don’t remember me? Ah, well I’m still going to help you, because I’m just that nice. Maybe the nicest person you’ve ever met. Also the most humble, but I digress. This week I’m taking a look at Miami’s native son, Lamar Miller, and his fantasy prognosis for 2015.

Florida News - Sept. 22, 2013

2014 Production

In 2014 Lamar Miller totaled 1,099 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns on 216 carries at 5.1 yards per carry. You think that 1-yard drives him crazy? If he’s as obsessive as I am he twitches every time he steps three feet. He also added 275 yards and a touchdown on 38 receptions. He ranked 9th among fantasy running backs with 185.4 points.

Player Skill

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Last year, Lamar Miller emerged as one of the better speed backs in the NFL. The man has incredible straight-line speed as evidenced by his 4.34 40-yard dash time, and advanced short area quickness as well. While his speed and athleticism are great, he does possess below average strength for a starting running back in the NFL. Miller does fight for extra yards, but he simply isn’t big enough to bulldoze through defenders like some of the elite big backs can. This issue may lead to concerns about durability down the line, but ultimately as long as the Dolphins continue to limit his carries it shouldn’t be a problem to worry about. The long time Miami native (he went to high school in Miami and played for the Hurricanes) may not be a 20+ carry bell cow back like Marshawn Lynch or Adrian Peterson, but he does what he’s asked to do very well. Many fans call for Miller to receive more carries, but it is often forgotten that medical concerns (shoulder specifically) caused him to fall to Miami in the fourth round.

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What Miller lacks in strength, he more than makes up for in his athleticism and vision. Even when the offensive line doesn’t play well, Miller will find holes using his outstanding vision and instincts. He’s very capable in his decision making, and if the way he adjusts to find running lanes isn’t enough indication, I’d let him pick out my wardrobe. Well, I guess I’d let anyone pick my wardrobe considering I’m colorblind. Except for Geno Smith. Based on his decisions in the pocket, he might actually be fully blind. Anyway, Miller rarely hesitates when running between the tackles, and uses his speed to get to the second level quickly. And hell is he hard for a defender to track down once he’s there. I swear the man is like Michael Weston in the second level. (Anyone else watch Burn Notice? No? Well, it’s great and you should watch it.)

Systematic Fit

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Lamar Miller’s playing style works well within Bill Lazor’s offense, especially because he isn’t asked to do more than he can handle. His intelligence, speed, and vision make him a great fit, even if he isn’t what most would consider a feature back. Lazor’s original plan was likely to use Miller and Knowshon Moreno as a 1-2 punch, but injuries rendered that plan as useless as a rulebook in Bill Belichick’s desk drawer. At any rate, Miller handled his unforeseen rise in playing time very well, as his numbers indicate. His ability to average 5 yards per carry can be seen as evidence of big things to come for the ex-Hurricane.

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The fact that Miller is not considered a featured back, much like being a good-looking fantasy football writer, is both a blessing and a curse. Miller’s reduction in carries theoretically keeps him fresh throughout the season and protected from potential injuries, but fewer carries means fewer fantasy points. With the addition of Jay Ajayi, I’d expect his carries to stay close to the same rate. His presence on the team isn’t likely to reduce Miller’s playing time, but it will be tempting to test out some of the team’s younger options as Miller enters a contract year.

Production Consistency

Lamar Miller was a very consistent fantasy football player last season. In fact the only thing out of Miami more Steve-Mitchell-USA-TODAY-Sports-Lamar-Millerconsistent than his numbers last season were Miami Heat fourth quarter blown leads. He consistently puts up good numbers… he just isn’t likely to win you any games on his own. Honestly, I’m more partial to players like that over the boom or bust prospects. It’s why I overdraft Reggie Wayne every year, and it’s why I’m going to overdraft him again this year (even if he decides to retire). I like knowing that the player I start is a lock for a certain amount of points, no matter who he’s playing, which is exactly who Miller was last season.

In 16 games, he had only one week under 5.0 fantasy points, and that was against Detroit, so every sane man had him benched that week anyway. It may not seem like much, but it’s comforting to know that at least your RB isn’t going to put up 0 points and sink your chances of winning that week. His average of 11.5 points per game is honestly what you can expect out of Lamar Miller, regardless of the team he’s playing.

Injury HistoryLamar Miller, Tysyn Hartman

Miller had a shoulder injury toward the end of last year, but he didn’t miss any time. This was slightly concerning considering his problems with the same shoulder at UM, but this time the injury was not as severe. Nothing in Miller’s recent history leads me to believe he will be an injury risk at any level. His capping of carries per game will likely keep him more safeguarded from injury than other top running backs. Jay Ajayi will be a solid free agent handcuff in case of an injury to Lamar Miller.

2015 Outlook

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At worst, I see Lamar Miller as a solid 2nd RB. Even though I see him improving his skills in his 4th NFL season, the addition of Jay Ajayi does limit his fantasy value a little bit. Make no mistake, Lamar Miller is the starter. I’m just concerned that Ajayi will steal some of his pickle juice, I mean touches. I definitely meant touches. Nevertheless, I have Miller pegged for around 1,100 yards rushing, over 300 receiving yards and somewhere between 8 and 10 touchdowns. Numbers of that caliber would make him a high-end 2nd Running Back. If you can get Miller past the 4th round, you’ve gotten him for a good price. Just make sure that you considering pickling up, I mean picking up Jay Ajayi in free agency or in the late rounds as a backup option.

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