When the Texans drafted D’onta Foreman in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, they saw him as the future back and an impact player for the next 5-10 years. The Longhorns star ran for over 2,000 yards in 2016 and scored 22 touchdowns his junior season. He tied Earl Campbell’s record of 11 straight 100-yard games at Texas and entered the draft with lots of promise.
However, like many backs, the transition from college to the NFL has not been easy for Foreman. He has battled injuries during his first two seasons which has cost him time on the field. Last season, he spent most of the year on the PUP list and dressed for only two games. When he has played, he has not shown much productivity. In 12 career games with the Texans, he’s run it 85 times for 326 yards. As a result, Lamar Miller has stolen the show as the team’s lead back. In his last three seasons with Houston, Miller has run for just under 3,000 yards and has racked up 18 touchdowns.
However, Miller’s at the age where wear and tear could be starting to affect him. He’s 28 and suffered some injury setbacks a year ago with his ankle which sidelined him. The Texans, however, proved they were content with their crop of running backs by steering away from the position in free agency and the NFL Draft. It’s brought up the key question of who will be the star back in 2019, and which running back offers the most fantasy value? Should you draft Lamar Miller or roll the dice on D’onta Foreman?
The Case for Miller
It’s still Miller’s job to lose. He enters camp as the number one back and didn’t do anything last year to make anyone think he’s lost a step. Plus, there’s reason to doubt Foreman. He tore his achilles in 2017 and it took him over a year to recover. They tried to get him back in action at the end of last year, but he spent lots of time rehabbing and then didn’t show anything when he did see playing time.
Miller is also more of a dual threat than Foreman, and with more leagues gearing towards PPR, there’s more point value there. Miller has totaled over 600 yards receiving his last three seasons with the Texans and can make the big play, as evidenced by his two 97-yard touchdown scampers in his career.
The Case for Foreman
Foreman brings fresher legs to the backfield, and if we’ve learned anything from fantasy football over the past decade, coaches tend to lean more on young legs. Despite his injury woes in 2017 and 2018, he comes into the season reportedly in great shape and fully healthy. He’s leaner than ever before, according to the coaching staff, and still has loads of potential that saw him dominate at Texas.
Foreman’s athleticism is tough to ignore. He has great agility and footwork and his north-south running style brings a change of pace to Miller. If he can use his size and power more than he did his rookie season and combine that with his athleticism, Foreman could be a breakout back in 2019 that any fantasy player would love to have.
Our FInal Verdict
In the end, it’s going to come down to how they look in preseason. There’s definitely more upside for Foreman moving forward. He’s younger, has more future potential and has the skill set as long as he avoids injury. At 28 and six full seasons, Miller’s best years are likely behind him as he closes in on that dreaded age of 30, which for a running back, usually spells doom. So the lean here is definitely Foreman. But I stress “lean.”
Keep an eye on training camp news and preseason games to see how these two backs perform and who the coaching staff is giving the carries to with the first team. It’s likely going to be a split backfield for some time, but if Foreman can display power with his size, he should give him more goal line carries and touchdown opportunities.
One of Foreman’s best strengths in college was his ability to capitalize on short-down conversions and goal-line opportunities. PPR leagues, however, may suit Miller better as he will likely be used more as the pass option back.
If you’re in a dynasty league, I would definitely suggest going Foreman over Miller. In regular fantasy, Foreman will likely be there in the later rounds whereas Miller could be overpriced by some based on his recent years and be taken early by pickers. So if you are looking more at stacking up with depth, Foreman could be a great late round option. You could also probably get Miller in the 3rd and 4th and back it up with Foreman in the 8th or 9th.
No matter what happens, the Texans strong passing game should only help their running game in 2019. They will use the pass to set up the run, which should give both these backs great opportunities for big plays.