The Houston Texan’s D’Onta Foreman plays on one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.

The Texans are a team on the cusp of greatness but have been unable to win a game when it counts.

Of late, the Texans have established and are recognized as a defensive lead team. The Texans ranked #1 in total defense in 2016 and boasted the #7 overall defense by football outsiders in 2018.

With the Texans having the marketable JJ Watt, a defense-first Texan’s persona perpetuates.

JJ Watt has been a figurehead for the Texans and the NFL since 2011

For the past several years the Texan’s identity was one of a great defense carrying the team.

Insert Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins.

Most high scoring fantasy football players are the product of a good offense. The 2019 Houston Texans will produce fantasy points as they are lead by the offensive firepower of Watson and Hopkins.

Watson shows his playmaking ability on a TD pass to the explosive Will Fuller V

Last season David Johnson was an example of a talented running back in a lousy offense.

Sometimes it is more about the surrounding offensive system than the individual player himself.

In D’Onta Foreman’s case, you have both individual talent and a good offense.

I will break down why you should target D’Onta Foreman as a high upside player with one of your late round draft choices.

2019 Texans Running Backs

Lamar Miller

Miller arguably had the best season of his NFL career in 2018. Miller was a Pro Bowl selection and averaged 4.6 yards per attempt. This may not look like a good sign for Foreman but this was an outlier year for Miller.

Lamar Miller at the Pro Bowl in 2018

My biggest concern with Miller is his inability to gain yards after contact. It seems as if the grind of a NFL season wears on Miller and he isn’t able to shed the first tackle.

I have no doubt Miller is explosive but can he consistently run between the tackles with effectiveness?

Pro Football Focus had Miller averaging 3.22 yards after contact/per attempt in 2018. This is significantly higher than his career average of 2.43 and his career low of 1.94 in 2016 with the Texans.

Lamar Miller struggles to find running room between the tackles

Even in his career year, Football Outsiders had Miller averaging -5.3 defense adjusted value over average per play (DVOA) in 2018.

Lamar Miller’s Houston Texan Career DVOA

  1. 2016 -10.5%

    76.6 yards per game
    5 touchdowns
    2 fumbles

  2. 2017 -2.8%

    55.5 yards per game
    3 touchdowns
    1 fumble

  3. 2018 -5.3%

    69.5 yards per game
    5 touchdowns
    0 fumbles

Running backs that got more than 200 touches in 2018 and posted negative value per play were Peyton Barber, Jordan Howard, David Johnson and Lamar Miller.

Both Barber and Howard are unimpressive players.

The ultra-talented Johnson posting negative value is a product of the previously mentioned importance of the surrounding offense.

Miller ranked as the #29 running back in 2018 by Pro Football Focus. Flanked by then Seattle’s Mike Davis at #28 and Carolina’s Cameron Artis-Payne at #30. This is unimpressive company to say the least.

Having watched Miller long enough to make an assumption. I project he will be in store for regression to the mean for his yards after contact in 2019.

Should there be any time on the injury list or consecutive poor performances, it could lead to a passing of the torch to Foreman in 2019.

Alfred Blue

In the past five seasons the Texans have leaned on their backup running back. Alfred Blue has been the man as he averaged 9.3 carries a game over his 5-year career in Houston.

He compiled a modest 2,407 yards and 8 touchdowns. Blue was consistent but never outstanding.

The Texans did not resign Alfred Blue this off-season.

Consequently, this leaves Foreman as the running back behind starter Lamar Miller going into 2019.

D’Onta Foreman Time

2017 NFL Draft Flashback

Foreman beat out Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to win the Doak Walker Award. An award given to college football’s most outstanding running back of the season.

Foreman then forwent his senior season at the University of Texas to enter the NFL draft.

Foreman was a projected 2nd or 3rd round talent coming off a 2,028 yard and 15 touchdown season.

2017 RB Draft Class Notables: L. Fournette, C. McCaffrey, D. Cook, A. Kamara, K. Hunt, J. Mixon, A.Jones, M.Mack

A fact of interest to compare how Foreman measured up against a stout 2017 running back draft class. During the NFL draft process Foreman posted the highest Physical Size and Athleticism Rating (PSAR) in the gifted 2017 running back class. 

The Houston Texans drafted D’Onta Foreman in the 3rd round with the 89th overall pick.

D’Onta Foreman’s Rookie Season

Foreman saw modest action in his rookie season as he shared time in the crowded backfield of both Miller and Blue.

In 10 games he received 78 rushing attempts where he averaged 4.2 yards per attempt and 2.55 yards after contact.

Foreman’s numbers were not outstanding but he flashed signs of playmkaing ability.

One of those moments came in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals when Foreman ran for a 34 yard touchdown.

Foreman was tackled into the end zone and suffered the devastating injury of a torn Achilles tendon.

Achilles tears are a difficult injury to rebound from for a NFL running back.

Most running backs do not return to full strength the following season or in a worst case scenario, ever in their career.

D’Onta Foreman’s 2018 Season

“I am basically starting all over.

-D’Onta Foreman on his Achilles rehab

Foreman’s 2018 season is not a fair gauge of his future success. Foreman spent the majority of 2018 rehabbing and returned for 2 games where he saw limited action.

D’Onta Foreman Today

Foreman has made progress and looks to be healthy and back to his former self.

Foreman is currently showing promise as an offseason standout as reported by Sarah Bishop of ESPN.

May 21, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) hands the ball off to Texans running back D’Onta Foreman (27) during practice drills at the Houston Methodist Training Center in Houston, TX. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 Foreman is in a better offensive situation than that of the 2017 Foreman. The 2017 Texans had rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and a shiny new toy in Lamar Miller.

The luster has worn on Miller and Watson has gained valuable experience as a two year starter in the NFL.

Foreman should be a force in an offense surrounded by dynamic talent.

Although a concern for Foreman is the Texan’s offensive line.

The Texans were rated the 6th worst offensive line by football outsiders and graded the 2nd worst by Pro Football Focus.

The Texans are hoping the O-line improves with the free agent acquisition of Matt Kalil and the 1st round draft selection of Tytus Howard.

D’Onta Foreman = Low risk high upside

Foreman may not be the hyped rookie or projected breakout star but he has serious potential to be a top 25 fantasy running back. 

If the Texans offensive line improves and Foreman overtakes Miller’s primary role, you have a RB2 waiting for selection in the late rounds of your draft.

At worst, Foreman will inherit Blue’s 9.3 carries per game and be a RB3 or flex option in deeper leagues.

The draft capital invested in a 12th or 13th round pick is worth the potential reward.

Target Rounds 12 -13