Three and Out: Lamar Miller, The Next L.T. and the Gambling Lock of the Year

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FIRST DOWN

Bovada Win Total 9.5 Wins – The New Orleans Saints projected win total. Betting odds are often an under-utilized tool in projections for fantasy football. While most of our readers are here for the fantasy content, I thought it was important to throw this betting opportunity out there1. Vegas is usually very conservative when forecasting “futures” bets allowing a savvy better to get the upper hand from time to time. This is one of the times I think there is a clear opportunity to take advantage2. Excluding 2012 (suspension year) Sean Payton has averaged 11.2 wins over his last 5 years as a coach. In his last 2 years as coach the Saints have gone a perfect 16-0 at home in the Super Dome. Sean Payton has also averaged over 6 home wins a year over that same 5 year span. While the other teams in this division have gotten better in the offseason, I still feel the Saints are the class of the division. The addition of Brandin Cooks which I forecasted here, along with a defense that ranked 4th in scoring last year and also added Jairus Byrd and Champ Baily, makes me feel comfortable dropping money on this line3. For those interested the lines for the rest of the division are as follows: Falcons – 8.5, Panthers – 8.5 and Bucs – 7.

When it comes to fantasy players I feel it is important to check the Vegas lines, particularly the over/under and game line. If the over/under is set at 50 and the line is 6, then the expected score for the game is 28-22. Vegas is in the business of winning money, so experts set these lines and are usually pretty accurate. If you have a key player on the winning team in this instance then you can expect four tds to be scored and a likely chance for your player to get a piece of the pie. The Vegas lines are just another tool to help you win your league. I specifically use it when trying to decide between two similar players when setting my lineup. Often times I will go with the player in the higher scoring game. In the case of the Saints season long forecast though, I will happily take the over…trust me, you will thank me later.4

SECOND DOWN

34 – The number of times Big South Offensive Player of the Year Lorenzo Taliaferro found the end zone in 2013. Last week L.T. generated the most buzz when talking about rookie sleepers at the running back position. With Gary Kubiak moving to Baltimore as the Offensive Coordinator and a Ray Rice suspension looming, L.T. has a chance to make an impact as a rookie. A quick look at the athletic profiles of backs that have had success under Kubiak shows that L.T. may be one of the more gifted prospects that Kubiak has had the chance to work with.

PlayerHeightWeight40 TimeSpeed ScoreAgility ScoreVertical
Lorenzo Taliaferro
722294.5810411.133
Terrell Davis712064.728300
Olandis Gary732164.718711.2834
Mike Anderson712354.699700
Reuben Droughns712154.669111.7530
Steve Slaton691974.4510011.0133.5
Arian Foster732264.689411.6232
Ben Tate712204.3412411.0340.5

As you can see L.T. rates out well ahead of RBs like Terrell Davis and Arian Foster that have had historically good seasons under Gary Kubiak. Ben Tate is the most athletically gifted RB on this table, with Taliaferro coming in second. His 11.1 Agility Score is right on the money for Shawn Siegele’s cut off. Looking back at Zac Stacy last year, it is amazing how close the numbers are when comparing the two. Taliaferro actually has a higher Rush DR than Stacy at .498. Comparing the two, it’s not a far-fetched idea to think L.T. could have the same type of impact.

With Ray Rice rushing for more than 75 yards only once last season and averaging a horrible 3.1 ypc, L.T. could have a chance to play soon. In recent OTA and rookie mini-camp action Taliaferro drew rave reviews for his smoothness and ability to pick up blitzes, which is a plus for rookies seeking playing time. Other news out of Baltimore is that L.T. was drafted because of the Ravens’ unhappiness with Bernard Pierce. Pierce is also currently sitting out OTA’s recovering from shoulder surgery. The three traits I look for in sleepers are talent, opportunity and past production. A big athletic back who can pick up the blitz, catch passes and bulldoze his way into the end-zone, playing behind a declining starter likely to be suspended and a #2 RB coming off injury who may be in the coaches dog house…where do I sign up? It is very much possible Lorenzo Taliaferro could be the Ravens week 1 starter.

THIRD DOWN

12.02 – The ADP of Lamar Miller right now compared to 6.05 for Knowshon Moreno. With 2 months off and very little interest in the free agent market, Moreno seems to be off to a less than stellar start in Miami. Add in the Peyton Manning Effect and Moreno figures to be a risky proposition for drafters this year. Max Mulitz broke down almost everything you need to know about Moreno here. But what about Lamar Miller? Well to start with, Lamar Miller is the superior athlete. Moreno ties Miller with a vertical of 35.5″ but loses out in every other category. Miller is younger and more athletic across the board with time in the current system. The big knock on Miller is that he hasn’t done much at this point in his NFL career. While that is certainly a fair point, the same could be said for Moreno up until last year. It could also be argued that Miller (or maybe even myself) could have put up those numbers in that offense with Manning. A fair question could be if last season never happened, which of these two backs would you take first? I would have to go with Miller. I wrote in an earlier piece “Sometimes you can be right about a player at the wrong time.” Last year Ryan Rouillard laid out a great argument for Miller and Shawn Siegele labeled him as a Post-Hype Super Sleeper. For those of you who plan on implementing a “Zero RB” strategy, Lamar Miller with an ADP of the 12th round seems like the next contestant on the Price Is Right. I can definitely see myself calling Lamar Miller to “Come on down.”

Fourth Down

Which player would you rather have at their current ADPs, Miller or Moreno? Let me know in the comments section below or head on over to Twitter and harass me. If there is anything you would like to see in this column feel free to let me know and I will see what info I can dig up.

  1. Editor’s note: You should never take gambling advice from RotoViz.  (back)
  2. Editor’s note: You probably should not take advantage  (back)
  3. editor’s note: buy something for a loved one. Do not bet on the Saints  (back)
  4. editor’s note: Make your student loan payment. Do not bet on this line  (back)
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