D’Onta Foreman was drafted 89th overall by the Houston Texans and looks to compete with Lamar Miller for running back touches in 2017.
Foreman rushed for over 2,000 yards in his final college season, and proceeded to run a staggering 4.45 forty-yard dash at his pro day. With rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson now in the fold, the Texans offensive trajectory could be shifting. And for a team with a perceived workhorse RB in Miller, this is a very interesting selection.
We’ll talk more about how this pick affects the Texans in a bit, but first, let’s take a closer look at Foreman’s profile.
D’Onta Foreman, Texas, 6-0, 233
RB Prospect Lab Data:
**Forty (with a 0.03 second adjustment) and Cone times from Foreman’s Pro Day**
Raw Production, Workhorse Score, and Adjusted RB Dominator:
Since 2000, only 14 players have produced 2,000 or more yards rushing in a single college season. This specific cohort has produced varying levels of success in the NFL — ranging from the peaks of LaDainian Tomlinson and Matt Forte to the valleys of Kevin Smith and Andre Williams. The obvious criticisms here are Foreman’s single season of elite rushing output and his extreme lack of receiving production.
Back in March, Kevin Cole noted that Foreman’s lack of involvement in the passing game could have been a scheme issue at Texas rather than a lack of ability on Foreman’s part:
Still hope Foreman's lack of receptions was a system issue, not a reflection on ability. No rushers were catching passes for Texas last yr pic.twitter.com/AUH5vAMook— Kevin Cole (@colekev) March 29, 2017
In fact, the last Longhorns’ RB to record at least 20 receptions was Johnathan Gray in 2014. However you choose to explain Foreman’s lack of receptions, you cannot slight his rushing production in his final college season.
Let’s look at his production comps using the Box Score Scout.
Michael Turner was once a fantasy superstar and shares a very similar profile with Foreman. Jordan Howard finished 2016 as the RB9 in PPR per-game scoring. Derrick Henry is still a hot dynasty asset. But Andre Williams, Musa Smith, and Verand Morency remind us of the extreme downside inherent in Foreman’s range of outcomes.
A stress fracture kept him from running at the combine, but Foreman put on a show at his pro day with a 4.45 forty. That gave him one of the best scores of the past decade, a result he also achieved in Kevin Cole’s model that predicts early RB1 seasons. He’s a smaller version of last year’s No. 1 lab finisher but earned a better score by averaging almost 40 more yards per game.
Only Steven Jackson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren McFadden, and Matt Forte have recorded higher scores in the history of the RB Prospect Lab. The next closest 2017 RB prospect? Jeremy McNichols with a score of 84.
Miller is the largest, most obvious obstacle standing in Foreman’s path to fantasy success. He set a career-high in carries in 2016 (268) but managed just five touchdowns and a pedestrian 4.0 yards per carry.
Foreman shouldn’t have much trouble immediately becoming the RB2 with competition coming from the likes of Alfred Blue, Tyler Ervin, Akeem Hunt, and Kenny Hilliard. Since becoming head coach in 2014, Bill O’Brien has distributed his RB carries fairly evenly, with each season’s leading rusher commanding no more than 65 percent of the running back carries.
If this trend continues, it’s not hard to envision Foreman eating into Miller’s workload as early as this season.
With an incoming first-round rookie QB, the Texans offense could look very different from what we saw in 2016. Brock Osweiler was an overpaid abomination last season and is now currently languishing in Cleveland. Tom Savage, who has been named Houston’s starting QB despite the addition of Watson, completed 63 percent of his throws in 3 games last season and is only worth considering in leagues that start two QBs.
Miller finished 2016 as the RB17 in PPR per-game scoring and could struggle to improve with the addition of Foreman.
DeAndre Hopkins‘ fantasy season was torpedoed by Osweiler’s poor play, finishing as the WR43 on a per-game basis. It’s hard to imagine Savage or Watson being much worse, so I’m looking for Hopkins to rebound in 2017. Will Fuller started 2016 on a tear but cracked 50 yards receiving just three times after Week 2. Best case scenario, he remains a boom-or-bust weekly fantasy starter.
Foreman’s combination of size, speed, and production nearly broke our RB Prospect Lab metric. He also led all 2017 RB prospects in terms of Kevin Cole’s RB Success Model, with a 53 percent chance of registering at least one top-12 PPR season in his first three NFL seasons.
Houston isn’t a home-run landing spot, and Lamar Miller isn’t going to simply go away. In the short term we should likely temper our expectations for Foreman from a fantasy perspective. However, if you prefer leaning on prospect models based on size, speed, and final-season college production, it’s easy to be excited about Foreman’s prospects.
Find all of our 2017 NFL Draft reaction content here.
The RB Success Model — Using age, production, and combine measureables, Cole builds on earlier regression tree analysis to build a model that predicts success within the first three years of a player’s NFL career. Odds of success are given for 28 RBs from the 2017 NFL draft class, along with commentary on the more prominent names.
See for yourself…