There’s plenty of running back news across the league right now with the holdouts of Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott understandably taking center stage. But the Houston Texans’ somewhat surprising cut of D’Onta Foreman is also worth a closer look.
Houston head coach Bill O’Brien has been clear about his intention to have Lamar Miller be the unquestioned starter. But trying to identify who will serve in the backup role in an offense expected to be one of the league’s best is a worthwhile endeavor. Behind Miller sits a host of potential Foreman replacements. Let’s investigate the three main candidates currently on the Texans’ roster.
In four seasons at Michigan, Higdon amassed 2,616 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns while averaging a healthy 5.6 yards per carry. But with the help of the RotoViz Box Score Scout we can see that the combination of his athleticism, draft position, and production equates to a relatively weak set of comparables. Higdon’s lack of receiving production is especially notable.
If we shift our attention to the RotoViz Combine Explorer, a sunnier side of Higdon’s profile emerges. Based on size, speed, and explosion, some very promising names came up including fellow rookies and RotoViz favorites Darrell Henderson and Trayveon Williams.
Crockett burst onto the scene at Missouri in 2016 becoming one of 11 freshman SEC RBs to hit 1,000 yards rushing and 10 TDs since 2000. But injuries and competition for touches over the next two seasons lands him in a unenviable set of comps based on career production. Crockett was not invited to the combine but did record a 4.4-second forty-yard dash and 37-inch vertical leap at his pro day at 225 pounds. But much like Higdon, his involvement in the receiving game was also fairly underwhelming. One positive is Crockett’s age. Still just 21 years old, he falls into the most successful cohort of rookie RBs according to Blair Andrews.
In four seasons at Florida Atlantic, Howell totaled 2,419 rushing yards and 22 TDs but was outplayed and relegated by Devin Singletary in his final two seasons. As you can see, his list of comps is easily the worst of the three based on career and final-season production. Howell ran a 4.52-second forty-yard dash at 219 pounds at his pro day, but posted disappointing results in the short shuttle (4.51) and three cone (7.55). With no draft capital, below average agility, and little college receiving production, Howell profiles as a long shot to ever find sustained success.
How To Play It
The biggest winner following Foreman’s departure is Miller. As one of the most consistent RBs over the last few seasons he’s still a value at his current ADP (RB33) in FFPC drafts. But as for the best bet to return value after Miller, the answer isn’t as obvious.
Aside from the three I profiled above, Taiwan Jones was also recently mentioned by O’Brien while discussing the importance of special teams contributions from his RBs. There’s also a chance the Texans bring in another veteran at some point via trade or free agency.
But based on what we know now, I’d lean towards Crockett in regular 10 or 12-team leagues given his size-adjusted speed, rookie age, and early-age college production. In deeper leagues, both he and Higdon are worthy late-round options based on their athletic profiles as a potential handcuff to Miller assuming no additional competition emerges.