SEE 2013 UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE!
In today’s Speed Bump poll, University of Miami alums Frank Gore and Lamar Miller square off, old warhorse versus young buck style. In magazine rankings, Gore is a clear-cut favorite. Gore is ranked higher than Lamar Miller in 8 of 10 magazines (Fantasy Index and Rotowire give Miller the nod). However, in actual drafts this is much closer and, in fact, Lamar Miller is selected a tad higher on average. Miller goes with the 4.05 pick on average while Gore goes with the 4.09 pick, and they are taken back-to-back on average among RBs. Gore and Miller extend a long-line of successful University of Miami backs in the NFL including Chuck Foreman, Ottis Anderson, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee.
If you are superstitious of running backs turning 30-years old, then buyer beware on Frank Gore who turned the dreaded three-o back in May. If last season was any indication, however, Gore has showed no signs that the tread on his tires is gone. Gore pumped out another 1,214 yards rushing and finished with a 4.7 YPC average, his best season since 2009, and he was the 10th-best RB based in PPR-scoring. Gore also managed to stay healthy and has now not missed a game in back-to-back seasons. Other than age discrimination, some other potential negatives are Gore’s rushing attempts declined last year by nearly ten percent from 282 to 258 and a RBBC certainly could be in store in San Francisco given their depth at the position. Gore also isn’t likely to collect a lot of receptions anymore. From 2006-2010, Gore averaged 3.6 receptions per game but that has dropped to 1.4 over the last two years. Gore comes into 2013 needing 1,161 rushing yards to be 28th RB in NFL history to reach 10,000 career rushing yards (although Adrian Peterson will probably beat him there; Peterson is 10 yards ahead of Gore coming into 2013).
It only took one season, but the Miami Dolphins let Reggie Bush walk and they are ready to turn over the reigns to 2nd-year back Lamar Miller. He is a somewhat rare mega-hometown hero as Miller played high school football in Miami, starred in college for the Miami Hurricanes and completed the trifecta after being drafted by the Miami Dolphins last season. Miller blazed a 4.4 flat at the 2012 NFL Combine, the best of any backs in attendance, and has good size at 5-10, 216 lbs. Miller had just 57 touches last year but made plenty of highlights (see below). Miller views Frank Gore as a mentor (like Miller, Gore played high school and college ball in Miami) and he trained with four-time Pro Bowl tailback this off-season. Can the student take the mentor?!
UPDATE 12/26/2013: The student did not come close to taking the master and 45% of people got tripped in this one as it was Frank Gore all the way as he was not only more productive, but Gore also showed Lamar Miller (and many other backs for that matter) what it takes to be a consistent week-in, week-out contributor in the NFL.
Age 30 didn’t slow Frank Gore much as death, taxes and a 1,000-yard season for Frank Gore are some truths. Excluding his rookie season, and his 2010 season cut short by a hip injury, Frank Gore has had a 1,000-yard season every year of his NFL career. With one week left to play, Gore needs just 47 rushing yards to be the 29th player in NFL history to reach the 10,000 rushing yard milestone, and he passed fellow U alum Clinton Portis this week as well. Gore’s yards per carry average dipped this year some but it was still plenty solid at 4.2, and Gore also is much less involved in the passing game than he used to be. Meanwhile, Lamar Miller weighs in as the 38th best RB this season just behind Mike Tolbert. All told, Miller has been fairly ineffective this year (averaging less than 4 YPC), been relegated to the sidelines far too often for Daniel Thomas and also battled his fair share of injuries. Miller also had some real clunker games this year (including a 7-carry, 2-yard game; a 10-carry, 8-yard game; a 3-carry, 8-yard game; and a 7-carry, 15-yard game). Miller could still be coached up but it’s hard to imagine the Dolphins not bringing in a new back to presumably be its feature back in 2014 given the results they have had this year from Miller and Thomas.
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