In the past few months our “Fake Football, Real Questions” series has focused on helping you make tough decisions between similarly ranked players. Now that training camp is in full swing and preseason games are underway, you’re going to see opinions on player value and ADP fluctuate wildly as film is studied, news is leaked, and injuries abound. Staying on top of the latest developments that are impacting the fantasy landscape (and more importantly knowing what to make of them) is a must if you plan on strutting around like a peacock while counting championship cash at the end of the season. Our writers really want to see your best championship strut, and they’re here to help. Make sure you know the answers to these questions before you start slapping stickers on your draft board:
Talent-wise, he’s probably #1, but the role just isn’t there. In case folks haven’t noticed, current Marshawn Lynch backup Robert Turbin has also looked pretty good, and he still has the #2 job. Either way, both of these guys need Lynch to go down to have serious value. With that said, if you’re in a deeper league (12+ teams with 8+ bench spots) he absolutely needs to be rostered.
As big of a fan as I am of Giovanni Bernard, Michael was my favorite rookie RB coming out of college this past season. I was a bit disappointed at his landing spot, because Lynch has elite juice left in his tank. Unless you’re talking dynasty or deep leagues, I don’t see Michael being a valuable handcuff this season. Turbin has actually looked solid in the preseason also, and I’m not too worried about Lynch staying healthy. I hope I eat these words, because this kid is fun to watch.
Leaving Michael out of it for a moment, let’s first define handcuff. A handcuff is a back-up who will not play his way into fantasy value without an injury to the incumbent starter. Shane Vereen, Gio Bernard, and even Andre Brown need not apply. Ben Tate and Bernard Pierce are my sure fire top two RB handcuffs, but after that it’s open for debate. Michael is right in the mix with Bryce Brown, Michael Bush, Joique Bell, and Marcel Reece for that number three spot (PPR only for those last two). He’s looked phenomenal this preseason, leading the NFL with 186 rushing yards, at a 6.9 YPC clip. If Michael were handed the reins of the Seattle ground attack, I have complete faith he would return the numbers you’ve grown accustomed to from Marshawn Lynch. It looks like Robert Turbin would also be involved in the event of a Lynch injury, but Michael’s talent would ultimately force Seattle to keep him on the field. He’s about as good a lottery ticket at the RB position as there is.
Michael has been sensational this preseason, averaging almost 7 yards per carry, and he has the pedigree of a featured back in the NFL. In the event that Marshawn Lynch missed time with an injury, I believe the Seahawks would give Michael the chance to be their primary ball carrier. But as long as Lynch is healthy, I think Robert Turbin will see more playing time than Michael because he is ahead of the rookie in terms of pass protection. Since handcuffs like Ben Tate, Bryce Brown, Andre Brown, and others offer more immediate value and perhaps just as much upside in the event of an injury, Michael is not currently a top-3 backup in my rankings.
Like the others have said, Christine Michael can’t be a top 3 fantasy handcuff because he’s not even the backup RB on his own team. No question, he has looked great, but as of today, Robert Turbin is Marshawn Lynch’s backup. If Lynch were to get hurt, would Turbin be the only RB to see the field? I doubt it. In the event of a Lynch injury, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michael take the majority of carries at RB. But until we do see a Lynch injury, Michael (and Turbin) have very little fantasy value. The majority of handcuffs/backups that Phil mentioned will see the field much more than Michael because they have an offensive role beyond being just the backup RB. Not only does Michael not have an expanded role in the offense, he is not even the backup RB, and because of that I’d rather draft several other backup RBs before drafting Michael.
It’s 100% a buying opportunity. Miller is explosive and versatile. Thomas isn’t. If Miami starts Thomas, or even does a 50/50 share, they have no clue what they’re doing. With that said, there’s enough uncertainty here now that I don’t trust Miller as a RB2 like I once did. If you can get him as your Flex or RB3, though, I think you’re in good shape.
That “speculation” was complete nonsense. Anyone who watches and knows anything about football could see Miller was going to solidify himself as the obvious starter. His versatility and burst make him a very lethal weapon each week. With the opportunity to land a top-tier RB in Round 1, and build your other positional talent a bit before grabbing Miller, it makes him very valuable at his ADP. I consider him more of a low-end RB2, and would prefer to have him as my RB3, but wouldn’t complain if he was my RB2. There is plenty of potential for him this season, and if that Miami offense can make strides with Tannehill and the addition of Wallace…Miller could boom. Don’t reach for him, but if he falls, be grateful.
Looks like the joke was officially on anyone who bought into the coach speak coming out of South Beach. The Miami Herald is reporting Lamar Miller will be named the Dolphins starting tail back after decidedly outplaying the plodding Daniel Thomas during the preseason. There’s even been speculation from team insiders that the Miami staff was talking up Thomas just to keep Miller on his toes. Kudos if you were able to draft Miller as your RB3. He should have ample opportunity to post rock solid RB2 numbers this season.
I do not see this as a buying opportunity. The pull back on Miller’s ADP probably puts him in a more appropriate range, but I do not trust him to be my RB2. We don’t know much about what Miller can or can’t do – he only had one full year as a starter in college and he carried the ball just 51 times for the Dolphins last season – and Miami’s offense in general is full of changes and question marks. Even if the Dolphins were only using the Daniel Thomas thing as a motivator, I don’t like the fact that an NFL player getting his first chance to be a featured back needs to be motivated in such a way. Plus, I don’t trust that Jeff Ireland and company won’t still try to inexplicably force Thomas into the game plan. I think Miller carries too many risks to be someone that fantasy owners can count on as an every-week starter.
If you are considering Lamar Miller as your RB2, then you should be strong at either TE or WR, or maybe both. And if that is the case, then you should be thanking your lucky stars for this “neck and neck” nonsense. It allowed you to focus on WR/TE early and still draft a three-down back. No question, there is some uncertainty about having Miller as your RB2 because of his limited NFL experience, but you should have an advantage at the other positions. Miller’s prediction of 1500 yards and 15 TDs for himself don’t hurt either.
Check out previous editions of Fake Football, Real Questions: