Somewhat surprisingly, after making a free agent investment in Lamar Miller in 2016, the Houston Texans used a third-round pick this year on running back D’Onta Foreman. The 2016 Doak Walker Award winner, and second-leading rusher in FBS last season (2,028 yards) is an upgrade behind Miller. But what is the fantasy outlook for the former Texas Longhorn?
Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien acknowledged overusing Miller early last season, and the numbers back that up with 93 carries and 13 catches over the first four games. That 400-plus touch pace surely contributed to him wearing down and battling some nagging injuries, with an ankle issue eventually costing him the final two regular season games. Miller finished 10th in the league in rushing with 1,073 yards, on a career-high 268 carries, while adding 31 receptions for 188 yards, but reducing his workload seems to be on the radar.
Miller had 34 red zone carries in 2016 (15 inside the 10-yard line; eight inside the five-yard line), but he only had five touchdowns on the ground. Foreman showed some nose for the zone last season, with 15 rushing touchdowns, so a role with some focus on short yardage and goal line could come during his rookie season. One way Foreman is unlikely to take work away from Miller is on passing downs, with just 13 receptions over three college seasons.
Fantasy Football Calculator’s most recent ADP data has Miller as the 20th overall pick (pick 2.08) in 12-team standard scoring leagues. Foreman is well down the list, as an early 14th-round pick, but he is shaping up to be a noted handcuff to Miller this year. If Miller’s ADP rises into the first round at any point, hand-cuffing Foreman to him will become a viable draft strategy.
Foreman will be behind Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon and maybe a couple others among this year’s rookie running backs in both re-draft and dynasty leagues. But that also provides an opportunity to get him very cheaply in dynasty formats, and Foreman is absolutely worth stashing in deeper dynasty leagues if you’re looking for a way to fill out the end of a roster.