Why the Texans and D’Onta Foreman Are a Good Fit
The NFL Draft is always an interesting exercise. It takes what we think we know about prospects and layers in information about a crucial aspect of fantasy football: opportunity. If there is a disconnect between our talent evaluation and our opportunity evaluation, we are forced to figure out which we value more, and by how much. D’Onta Foreman is someone that many people loved before the draft. However, now that he is in Houston, talk has been much quieter on him. Here’s why he’ll succeed there, despite what you may think.
Foreman should fit right in with Houston due to their overall offensive philosophy under Bill O’Brien.
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The above table shows run and pass tendencies since 2014, O’Brien’s first season as Texans head coach. As you can see, Houston ranks first in raw rush attempts over that span, and sixth in rush percentage. The Texans have run the ball an average of 493 times in each of the past three seasons, good for 30.8 times a game. There is an ample amount of volume available in Houston.
One objection to this may be the quality of QB play O’Brien has had to deal with. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, and Brock Osweiler aren’t world beaters, and a breakout from Deshaun Watson could change their approach. My counter to this would be that rookie QBs typically aren’t very efficient in year one, and even if Watson proves to be special, the quality of the Houston defense probably keeps the Texans in game scripts that slant run heavy.1
One of the biggest positives on the Foreman profile is his ability to shoulder a major load. If the Texans are to utilize a workhorse, Foreman may have an edge Lamar Miller.
From just their physical and production profiles, it is easy to see why Foreman would be preferred in a workhorse role to Miller. For starters, he is 21 pounds heavier. Foreman also accounted for a higher market share of his teams rush yards in his final season and ran the ball 10.5 more times per game. In fact, he ran for more yards in his final season than Miller had in his entire collegiate career!
Even when we consider Miller’s time in the NFL, it is clear that he is not suited for a workhorse role. O’Brien said as much.
“I think he probably carried it a little bit too much early on,” O’Brien said…”But I think, you know, 30 carries in a couple games, thing like that, that’s probably a little bit too much. We feel like we have a pretty diverse group of running backs so I think in order to get him at his best in January, we probably need to cut down on that early in the year.”
After Miller left Miami because the Dolphins refused to make his workload too high, the Texans ended up at the same conclusion. These feelings were consummated in selecting Foreman inside the top 90. I would expect Miller to return to around the 13.5 carry average he had in 2014 instead of the over 19 carry average he posted in 2016. Again, this should leave Foreman with plenty of chances early on.
Lamar Miller’s Contract
While Foreman has a great shot at producing right away in this offense, his outlook gets even better after 2017, when Miller’s contract allows the Texans to cut him.
Houston can get out of the final $14 million of Miller’s contract for just a $2 million cap hit. Even if he is effective in 2017 in a reduced role, the team may decide it is not worth paying such an exorbitant sum for a RB who isn’t a workhorse. Miller’s 2018 cap hit is the fourth highest at the position according to Spotrac.
Foreman was a player that I loved in the pre-draft process. While the presence of Miller initially makes him appear to be a stay-away in rookie drafts, Houston is actually a good fit for the rookie back. Foreman should see work right away, including in short yardage and goal-line situations, and could be the clear starter in 2018. I will be buying in rookie drafts, and now at a reduced cost.
For further research: 2017 NFL Draft Reaction – Foreman Goes to Houston
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- The Texans Vegas win total sits at 8.5, and puts them right in line with their previous three nine-win seasons. (back)