A player you may love but probably shouldn’t: Lamar Miller
Generally speaking, Miller has never begun the season ranked inside the top ten of fantasy running backs. Low and behold, after a fluky top six finish in 2015, he’s a consensus top five back all of a sudden. I just love the reactionary nature of fantasy players and analysts. And when I say “love,” I of course mean “loath.” What exactly did you see out of him last season that was different from his previous three? Or is it the vaunted Texans run game that was 15th in the league last year that has you excited? Oh! It’s the idea of having all the touches to himself that sold you. Look, I like Miller. I drafted him his rookie year because I saw what he could be, what he is. But to reference the late, great Danny Green, he is who we thought he was: a top 15 fantasy back.
One of the most concerning things about Miller’s 2015 campaign has to be his consistency, or lack thereof. Last season the Miami ball carrier totaled just six games in which he scored double digit fantasy points. That’s six out of sixteen. Personally, I prefer a top five back to be a little more reliable. A quick search of other top backs from last season will find that Miller’s total number of games with ten or more points was easily the lowest. Even David Johnson, who until week 13 only had two games in which he garnered ten or more touches, managed eight weeks with double digit production. Other backs ahead of Miller on this particular list include Matt Forte and Chris Ivory. In fact, the only top ten back from last season to produce just six games of ten or more fantasy points was…….Latavius Murray. And while Miller enjoys a top five preseason ranking, Murray finds himself outside of most analysts’ top 15. These two were separated by a mere 20 fantasy points last season, and now they’re separated by over 10 spots in this season’s RB rankings. For the record, I think Murray is physically more suited as a feature back than Miller, and he has a better line.
Player you may hate, but probably shouldn’t: Jeremy Langford
I’ve had this article on my backburner for a while now, and given Langford’s recent preseason performance, I wish I would have finished it sooner. I almost skipped it all together for fear of appearing to be the proverbial prisoner of the preseason moment. But when I see Langford still outside people’s top 25 running backs, and even outside some’s top 30, I realize this piece is still sorely needed. For the record, I couldn’t care less about the preseason. I’m a Raiders fan, and I remember when they would go 4-0 in the preseason and look all-worldly. Then the regular season would start, and the harsh reality would set in. So yeah, despite efforts of players like Langford and Dak Prescott and Christine Michael, I see these games as no more than an entertainment fix until the real thing begins.
The go-to argument against Langford seems to be his low yards-per-carry average over the course of the season. For the record, something else I don’t really care about is yards per carry. Do you remember Jeremy Hill’s robust YPC average his rookie year that earned him a top spot on many RB ranks for the following season? Do you also remember Hill’s “disappointing” performance last season? A lot of good his five plus YPC average did him. So what do I like about Langford? Let’s start with the fact that he finished as the 23rd fantasy back despite not starting a game until week 9. I’ll follow that little tidbit with the fact that Langford is the best running back on the roster. I’m not at all threatened by Ka’Deem Carey or Jacquizz Rodgers or “that new boy they got, looks like a bulldog” (+10 points for Coming to America reference), Jordan Howard. The coaches can talk about a committee all they want, but I recall when Andre Ellington was supposed to get twenty touches a game per Bruce Arians. The fastest ball carrier of his draft class, Langford possesses legit breakaway speed. And if it’s his seven drops that concern you, I’ll ignore the fact that some sites have him at just two drops last year and focus on the fact that Langford played a season at a prominent D1 school as a wide receiver. Are you holding Mike Evans’s or Amari Cooper’s drops against them? They’re receivers. Their actual job security depends very heavily on their ability to catch the ball. Sure it’s a part of Langford’s job description too, but it’s more of a secondary element. It’s also one I think Langford will excel at this season, much like his predecessor, Matt Forte.
fantasyreaList Writer: Steven Flowers