Things were going well for Lamar Miller the first six weeks of the season. He was finally getting the touches he’d always wanted, seeing at least 25 in four of the first six games.
Miller already has 136 carries, which is 58 fewer than all of last season. But with more work comes more chance of injury, and that’s exactly what happened against Denver last Monday.
He left with a shoulder injury and was on and off the field for the rest of the game, also taking a trip to the locker room when the injury first occurred.
The information we have on Miller’s injury isn’t much, as it’s simply being labeled a shoulder injury. He practiced on a limited basis all week, but it came out Friday that he would be a game-time decision for Sunday against the Lions. Then, after practice, Miller said he expects to play but doesn’t know how much. That was also the case Saturday.
That’s not a great vote of confidence from the man with the injury. It appears to be related to pain tolerance and one hit into his bad shoulder could knock him out for the game.
After getting just 14 touches against the Broncos, it may not be the rest route to trust Miller this weekend. But because he could play, that may mean a split of touches, making Alfred Blue and Tyler Ervin worthless in most fantasy circles, as well.
If you’re planning to start Miller this week, it’d be wise to have a backup in place. As usual, the options are slim, but more so in a week with six teams on bye.
Mike Gillislee will be a popular choice. Unfortunately, he’s already on most rosters after the LeSean McCoy fiasco from a week ago.
Matt Jones is out for Washington and with Chris Thompson already on at least 50 percent of rosters, Rob Kelley may be a solid option to turn to. Thompson will get a few more carries than usual, but he’s still mainly a third-down back.
Kelley could be in line for a decent amount of work because the Redskins will continue with their run-first approach. In addition, the Bengals are beat up defensively and could struggle against the run.
Thompson may be the more popular option because of his work in the receiving game, but Kelley could still be in line for 10-15 touches, which is a good number from a guy off the free-agent list.
I’ve backed Dwayne Washington too many times already this season, but it’s hard to ignore him now that he’s practiced in full all week. Most teams have been able to run on the Texans this season and Washington should get a chance to do so.
With what we’ve seen from Zach Zenner and Justin Forsett, there’s no reason Washington can’t step right in and become the top running back between the tackles in this offense. Theo Riddick will always be around for touches, but he’s better used in the passing game.
The Lions ran it 17 times last week and should be around that number again in a similarly close contest. As long as Washington is healthy, expect 10 or so touches in his return to the lineup.
For a bigger stretch, Charcandrick West could be considered, but he’s a last-ditch option. Even with Jamaal Charles out, West hasn’t been getting many touches behind Spencer Ware.
And maybe an even bigger stretch is Kapri Bibbs, who will probably see a few touches unless the Broncos give every carry to rookie Devontae Booker. His playing time is an unknown, but there’s a chance Bibbs sees five to 10 carries, as long as the Broncos have the lead.
The list of choices isn’t long, but Kelley and Washington are available in roughly 90 percent of leagues. If both available, I’d take Kelley above Washington with the Redskins running game being a little better.