Lamar Miller—and his fantasy owners—are the big winners of the Miami Dolphins' decision to sign former Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno.
ESPN.com reported that the two sides agreed on a one-year, $3 million deal on Thursday.
While not an upgrade to the putrid offensive line from last season, Moreno steps into a starting role and Miller is the one who benefits in a committee approach.
Look at the news from a fantasy perspective. Miller only received 51 carries as a rookie. He took 177 handoffs last year and rushed for an average of four yards per carry en route to 709 yards and two touchdowns.
Not eye-popping numbers by any means—until one realizes what he had to work with. Pro Football Focus' Pete Damilatis illustrates the point best:
Some blame Lamar Miller & Daniel Thomas, but here's what they had to run behind last year: pic.twitter.com/iygRS4CpqH— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) March 27, 2014
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Miami ranked as the fourth-worst run-blocking team in 2013.
Remember, while the pass-blocking rating is much better, Ryan Tannehill was the most-sacked quarterback in the NFL last year—a bevy of other factors play into sack totals, but fans get the idea of the line's overall mediocrity.
Who could forget that Miller was paired with the plodding Daniel Thomas last year, who posted a career-best average of 3.7 yards per carry.
Eliminate Thomas from the equation with Moreno's arrival. His 1,039 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, along with more than 500 receiving yards and three more scores through the air, were clearly the product of his playing in a Peyton Manning offense last season—his lack of a market showed as much.
However, Moreno and Miller are clearly the one-two punch the staff in Miami has in mind behind Tannehill, as Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post pointed out:
Philbin was playing up Lamar Miller a lot in NFL meetings, but barely mentioned Thomas. So expect a Moreno-Miller 1-2 punch.— Andrew Abramson (@AbramsonPBP) March 27, 2014
Moreno simply gets what is blocked, but he does it very well. This relegates Miller to a change-of-pace role, where he'll excel thanks to a sound overall skill set that allows him to break free once in a while for large chunks of yardage—especially when a defense has been battling a workhorse back on prior downs.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported in February that this dynamic is something the staff has had in mind.
“They’re a good complement to each other, and we like Miller’s speed and explosiveness,” the Dolphins staffer said. “Miller has the higher ceiling, but you wish he ran with a more physical [style]. And both have to improve as blockers.”
The other back the staffer refers to is of course Thomas, but the writing was on the wall that the team would be in play for a back like Moreno, who provides an upgrade and also complements Miller well enough to bring out his best.
Is Miller worth the gamble as a RB2 in standard leagues?
This should have Miami fans encouraged, but it should make fantasy owners even happier. Miller will see his typical amount of touches and then some with Moreno on board.
In a league where the committee approach reigns supreme, there is no way the Dolphins are throwing in the towel on Miller just yet.
In fact, it's quite the opposite.
Miller is a quality No. 2 running back in standard leagues each week and this notion will only be further cemented if the organization continues to upgrade positions around him.