There are few things worse than major injuries that happen in football games that don’t matter. While we don’t yet know how significant Lamar Miller’s knee injury is, by the look and the reaction of the players on the field on Saturday night it didn’t seem minor. Hopefully that turns out not to be true. Hopefully this reaction story is all for naught, but it’s time to at least consider what the Texans offense might look like without Miller. 

The first name that comes to mind is Duke Johnson, who the Texans traded for earlier in training camp. Johnson is an extremely talented back who has done his best work in the passing game. His 4.3 yard average on the ground is impressive but it comes with a couple of caveats. One, he’s never carried the ball more than 104 times in a season before. Two, he’s often used on passing downs, which makes running the ball just a little bit easier. I would bet against Johnson being used as a true feature back, and I’d bet against him matching his career averages if he does see a massive increase in carries. 

All of that being said, if Johnson is giving anything close to a feature role in Miller’s absence he would instantly become a must-start running back with top-12 upside. This is a good offense, Johnson is a good back, and his passing game chops paired with a significant role in the passing game could be Fantasy gold. Even a small increase in touches would make him a starter in PPR and a flex in non-PPR. 

One item in Johnson’s favor is the Texans current running back depth chart. They already cut D’Onta Foreman and their next best running backs are Damarea Crockett and Karan Higdon. Neither of those names inspire confidence, but if we get an indication that one of them is going to handle early-down work they’ll become Fantasy relevant. 

One final option to keep in mind is the free agent market. There aren’t a lot of names available right now but that is going to change in the coming weeks. Someone like Kenneth Dixon or Carlos Hyde could get cut and become exactly what the the Texans need. 

That doesn’t help much for those of you drafting in the next 24 hours. Neither does the uncertainty surrounding Miller’s knee. The fact that contact was involved in the injury means it’s at least possible this isn’t a season-ending injury. With that in mind, I’d start considering drafting Miller in Round 9 or 10 until we get more information. Johnson is now worth a speculative pick before Miller, especially in PPR. As for everyone else, we’ll have to wait on what the Texans tell us and who they do or don’t add. 

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