By Ari Gilberg
Sometimes the best solution is the most simple one – at least that was the case with Lamar Miller, who, after averaging 5.45 points to start the season, exploded this past week running for 113 yards and a touchdown in the Miami Dolphins 31-10 win over the Tennessee Titans to finish with 17.8 points, a season-high. All of this despite the fact Miller was pulled in the fourth quarter after the Dolphins developed a three-score lead.
The simple solution that led to Miller’s breakout performance was the fact he was finally given the chance to actually run the football. After averaging only 9.25 rushing attempts and just 11.25 total touches per game through the Dolphin’s first four games under the recently-fired Joe Philbin, Miller received 19 carries, and caught two passes, in interim head coach Dan Campbell’s first game at the helm.Embed from Getty Images
While Philbin would constantly frustrate fantasy football managers with his refusal to commit to Miller and the running game as a whole – the Dolphins entered week six 31st in rushing with 69.3 yards-per-game – Campbell seems dedicated to increase Miller’s workload, something that is music to Miller-owners’ ears, and makes the former Miami Hurricane the man to target in trades if you’re in need of a running back.
Prior to the Dolphins win Sunday, Miller told the Miami Herald’s Adam H. Beasley that Campbell informed the team they’re going to start focusing more on running the ball than they have in previous years under Philbin.Embed from Getty Images
“[Campbell] pretty much told the whole team that we have to run the ball and stop the run,” Miller said. “That’s something that we emphasized, and something we want to get going.”
Miller certainly got going against the Titans, and, if Sunday was any indication, he looks poised to vault up the running back rankings. While after four games, the 13th ranked running back to start the season was barely even worth RB3/flex consideration, now, Miller should be considered a high-upside RB2/low-end RB1 with a legitimate chance to finish the season as a top-10, possibly even top-5, running back.Embed from Getty Images
Too bold of a prediction? Consider this, last season Miller finished the season with nearly 1,100 rushing yards and eight touchdowns to end the year as the ninth highest-scoring running back…on just 216 attempts – the lowest amount of rushing attempts out of any of the top-10 running backs, according to ESPN.
Miller, who totaled 171 total points, actually outscored LeSean McCoy, the 2013 NFL rushing champion, despite getting nearly 100 fewer carries.
After averaging 5.1 yards-per-carry last season, and a career average of 4.6, Miller has shown he’s one of the most talented running backs in the NFL. Now, with a head coach who finally seems determined to actually get him the ball, he has a chance to produce like one.