Houston Texans: Lamar Miller’s best season as a Texan is upon us

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 10: Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 10: Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Lamar Miller could be entering a make it or break it season with the Houston Texans. Let’s take a look why 2018 will be his best season yet.

The Houston Texans signed Lamar Miller to a four-year deal back in 2016 to replace the best running back in franchise history, Arian Foster. At the time, Miller was one of the most promising backs in the league but, he had yet to have a feature role just to himself.

The Texans were willing to take a gamble on Miller in spite of him not ever having that experience. Miller rewarded the Texans with a good, not great season. He put up just over 1,000 yards on the season to pair with six total touchdowns. However, his 76.6 yards per game were the highest of his career. His first year as a member of the Houston Texans was pretty solid, especially considering it was his first time in a true feature role.

The team was hoping Miller would take the next step in 2017. But, he, like the majority of the team, had a subpar year. Miller’s production dropped to 888 yards and three rushing touchdowns. In spite of having a dip in rushing production, he upped his receiving production to over 300 yards and three touchdowns.

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Unfortunately, Miller’s dip in production continued in a pretty negative trend for the tailback. In 2014, Miller averaged 5.1 yards per carry, a simply outstanding number. In 2015, the year before Texans signed him, that number dipped to 4.5 which is still really good.

As a part of the Houston Texans, that number continued to drop. In 2016, his yards per carry fell to 4.0, which is on the bottom end for what is considered successful for running backs. It bottomed out this past season at 3.7 which is not good for a feature running back.

This decline in production has turned 2018 into a make it or break it season for Miller. The team had a contractual out prior to this season but, he hadn’t played that poorly that Texans would choose to exercise it.

When Miller signed in 2016, he put on about 15 pounds in order to take on the extra workload he’d receive in Houston. While Miller was still effective, he was less effective than he was in Miami. Apparently, he believes this weight gain attributes to his decline in production.

Miller has, reportedly, dropped this same 15 pounds heading to this 2018 campaign. He is down to about 217 pounds which is slightly lighter than what he ran at with Miami. So far, the results look very promising. Miller averaged 7.3 yards per carry this past Thursday against the Chiefs. His one drive resulted in 29 yards on four carries.

Sure, this is a small sample size but, it is absolute promising. Miller, at times, appeared sluggish and slow footed last year. Against the Chiefs, all of that seemed to be in the past. He was quick and decisive as he hit the hole. He, honestly, looked extremely electric.

It appears the lighter weight has Miller feeling better and playing better. Now, all of the production at the running back position doesn’t always fully depend on the running back. There are a ton of factors including how the offensive line and the quarterback are performing.

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Fortunately, for Miller, he is playing one of the best, up-and-coming quarterbacks in the league. The offensive line is also looking a lot better than it was in 2018. If Deshaun Watson can stay healthy and if the offensive line can not be terrible again Miller is bound to get better in 2018.

Miller will have his best season as a member of the Houston Texans this year. In fact, he’ll have the best year of his career this year. He gets paid like a top five running back and this year, he’ll live up to that billing.

It wouldn’t be surprising if he eclipsed 1,500 total yards on offense this year and collected over 10 touchdowns for the first time in his career. The weight loss, improved offensive line play, and a full season of Watson will all attribute to this career year.

For you fantasy football players out there, Miller looks like he’s being extremely undervalued this year. You could scoop him up in the middle rounds with the potential for top three rounds production.

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Miller has averaged 860 yards with five touchdowns on the ground per 16 games in his career. He’s added over 200 yards and a touchdown through the air. Look for him to pass those numbers up in a major way in 2018.