Injuries are always tough to navigate in fantasy football, and that is especially true for this week. Earlier today, the Houston Texans announced running back Lamar Miller will miss Week 16’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. In his absence, some fantasy owners may jump to claim backup running back Alfred Blue. However, this is a move that should be avoided if at all possible. Blue isn’t capable of putting up Lamar Miller production even with a full workload, and he may not be the workhorse back against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Fantasy Football: Stay Away From Alfred Blue
So far on the season, Blue has recorded 143 carries for 473 yards, two touchdowns, and 3.3 yards-per-carry. These numbers are fairly underwhelming at first glance, and they don’t look better upon further analysis. Normally serving as Miller’s backup, Blue has recorded double-digit carries in six games this year. During said contests, Blue has 230 yards and no touchdowns on 76 carries, good for an underwhelming 3.02 yards-per-carry.
This production is pretty ugly, especially considering it’s par for the course over Blue’s career. Since first entering the league in 2014, Blue is averaging just 3.6 yards-per-carry. He’ll see a sizeable workload, but the truth is that Blue just isn’t that good of a running back. Even if he gets a full workload, he won’t put up Lamar Miller level production.
That said, he may not get a full workload. Despite not playing a snap in 2018, fellow Texans running back D’Onta Foreman could steal some of Blue’s carries. Foreman suffered an Achilles injury but was activated to the 53-man roster back on December 6th. Houston has been playing it safe with their second-year running back, but they may have no choice but to play Foreman with Miller out.
If Foreman’s healthy, there’s no question that he is a better back than Alfred Blue. Playing in 10 games last season, Foreman finished 2017 with 327 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 78 carries. This 4.2 yards-per-carry isn’t that impressive, but it’s considerably better than Blue’s 3.6 career average. Neither player brings much in the passing game, so it’s not like Blue’s pass-catching ability will keep Foreman off the field.
An Unfavorable Matchup
At first glance, it looks like Houston’s running backs have a favorable matchup in Week 16. Houston travels to Philadelphia to take on an Eagles defense which has struggled in recent weeks. Over their past six games, Philadelphia has allowed 798 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns on 151 attempts, corresponding to 5.3 yards-per-carry. While this looks like an exploitable matchup on paper, a further dive shows that Philadelphia’s run defense isn’t as weak as it appears.
The Eagles have recently faced off against some of the best running backs in the league. Since Week 10, the Eagles have played Ezekiel Elliott (twice), Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, and Todd Gurley. There isn’t a run defense alive that would come out of this slate looking good.
Football Outsiders adjusts for quality of opponent and currently ranks the Eagles as the 14th-best run defense in the league. While this isn’t an elite ranking by any means, it shows that this defense can’t be run over by just anyone.
While the Eagles run defense is around league average, the Texans offensive line is absolutely abysmal. Per Football Outsiders, Houston has the 25th-ranked run blocking line in the entire league. Philadelphia should win at the point of attack, meaning that the Texans’ running backs won’t have big holes to run through. If a player like Blue is to have fantasy value, he’ll need to make yards on his own.
Based on everything we’ve seen from Alfred Blue throughout his career, he’s simply not capable of doing that. Blue gets what’s blocked for him, and sometimes he doesn’t even do that. With Houston not likely to win in the trenches, Blue will probably have another rough day as the starter.
Last Word on Alfred Blue in Fantasy Football
Even with Lamar Miller ruled out for Week 16, you can probably find better options on the waiver wire than Alfred Blue. Blue has shown throughout his NFL career that he’s simply not that good of a running back. The fifth-year running back has six games this season with double-digit carries and hardly did anything with his opportunities. Additionally, the Texans could easily activate the more talented D’Onta Foreman, who would further eat into Blue’s workload.
The Philadelphia Eagles run defense gave up big numbers over the past few weeks, but that struggle is understandable. Philadelphia faced off against some of the best running backs in the league over the past six weeks, causing their run numbers to be artificially inflated. Football Outsiders ranks their defense 14th against the run, while the Texans offensive line comes in as the 25th-ranked run blocking unit. Blue would need to make plays without favorable blocking, and he hasn’t shown the ability to do that in the NFL.
Anyone relying on a running back duo of Lamar Miller and James Conner may have no choice but to start Blue. However, it’s worth checking the waiver wire to see if someone like Jamaal Williams, John Kelly, or Elijah McGuire is around. All three should give you better production than Blue during the fantasy championship.
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