Brian Flores says Miami will use all three of its running backs -- Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, Malcolm Brown. David Culley will likely do the same with Houston's backfield of Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram and David Johnson. Perhaps he'll even find some chances for Rex Burkhead; you don't want to leave that on the bench. Death to fantasy value.

I think the broad recommendation here is to steer clear of most of these players. If Flores thinks running Brown into the line is a good use of carries, his judgment can't be trusted to make Gaskin a viable running back. If Culley seriously thinks David Johnson should be a third-down back behind Ingram and/or Lindsay, I want even less to do with Houston than I did initially.

But for the sake of discussion, I decided to examine whether a three-back committee might produce some viable fantasy players. The history wasn't quite as awful as I expected.

I took a look at every team in the last 20 years that's had three running backs with 100-plus touches (combined rushing attempts and receptions) in a season. There have been 30 such teams. Only one of those teams had a top-10 fantasy back, which isn't surprising. But those teams did produce 14 top-25 backs, across 12 different teams (two teams had 2). So it is possible to pluck a quality starter in typical 12-team leagues out of this bad situation.

But -- and this is important -- a lot of the teams that produced those backs were a whole lot better on offense than Houston figures to be, and almost certainly Miami too. Nearly half (6) of those 14 running backs came from high-powered New Orleans offenses. (One of which Ingram played for, watching Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas finish the season ranked in the top 25.) That's about the only thing the 2021 Texans and those great New Orleans offenses have in common: Ingram.

Table shows those 30 three-man backfields, with top-25 running backs in bold. There were two last year (49ers and Rams, which included Malcolm Brown). The top running back was 31st-ranked Jeff Wilson.

2020Jeff Wilson, S.F.1266001313310139146.331
2020Jerick McKinnon, S.F.81319332536114126.239
2020Raheem Mostert, 104521161563120101.747
2020Darrell Henderson, LAR138624161596154130.336
2020Malcolm Brown, LAR101419231625124111.143
2020Cam Akers, LAR145625111233156103.845
2019Raheem Mostert, S.F.1377721418010151169.226
2019Tevin Coleman, S.F.137544211807158135.439
2019Matt Breida, S.F.123623191202142105.346
2019James Conner, Pitt.116464342517150147.534
2019Jaylen Samuels, Pitt.66175473052113108.845
2019Benny Snell, Pitt.108426323211159.967
2018Jalen Richard, Oak.55259686071123160.629
2018Doug Martin, Oak.172723181164190125.940
2018Marshawn Lynch, Oak.903761584310579.063
2018Kerryon Johnson, Det.118641322134150141.433
2018Theo Riddick, Det.40171613840101116.543
2018LeGarrette Blount, Det.1544181067516488.559
2017Bilal Powell, NYJ178772231705201147.230
2017Matt Forte, NYJ103381372933140122.442
2017Elijah McGuire, NYJ8831517177210580.262
2016Latavius Murray, Oak.1957883326412228210.213
2016Jalen Richard, Oak.83491291943112115.542
2016DeAndre Washington, Oak.8746717115210487.257
2016Theo Riddick, Det.92357533716145161.825
2016Zach Zenner, Det.8833418196410695.052
2016Dwayne Washington, Det.902651062110048.775
2016Chris Thompson, Was.68356493495117149.528
2016Robert Kelley, Was.16870412827180132.638
2016Matt Jones, Was.99460873310779.358
2015DeMarco Murray, Phil.193702443227237188.415
2015Darren Sproles, Phil.83317553886138161.526
2015Ryan Mathews, Phil.106539201467126130.536
2015Theo Riddick, Det.43133806973123181.019
2015Ameer Abdullah, Det.143597251833168121.044
2015Joique Bell, Det.90311222864112105.750
2012Darren Sproles, N.O.48244756678123216.113
2012Pierre Thomas, N.O.105473393542144133.732
2012Mark Ingram, N.O.156602629516299.142
2011Darren Sproles, N.O.876038671010173277.35
2011Pierre Thomas, N.O.110562504256160184.721
2011Mark Ingram, N.O.1224741146513393.046
2011Dexter McCluster, K.C.114516463282160142.431
2011Jackie Battle, K.C.149597968215887.550
2011Thomas Jones, K.C.153478543015857.170
2011Donald Brown, Ind.13464516865150119.138
2011Joseph Addai, Ind.1184331593113373.658
2011Delone Carter, Ind.101377518210656.571
2010Mike Tolbert, S.D.1827352521611207188.121
2010Darren Sproles, S.D.50267595202109149.729
2010Ryan Mathews, S.D.158678221457180146.331
2009Pierre Thomas, N.O.147793393028186196.519
2009Reggie Bush, N.O.70390473358117167.529
2009Mike Bell, N.O.1726544125176100.646
2009Michael Bush, Oak.123589171053140104.444
2009Justin Fargas, Oak.12949117113314695.448
2009Darren McFadden, Oak.10435721245112587.251
2008Pierre Thomas, N.O.1296253128412160193.919
2008Reggie Bush, N.O.106404524409158190.422
2008Deuce McAllister, N.O.107418181286125108.647
2008LeRon McClain, Balt.2329021912311251187.523
2008Willis McGahee, Balt.170671241737194150.435
2008Ray Rice, Balt.107454332730140105.749
2008Darren McFadden, Oak.113499292854142131.442
2008Justin Fargas, Oak.21885310521228106.548
2008Michael Bush, Oak.9542119162311495.755
2006Leon Washington, NYJ151650252704176141.035
2006Kevan Barlow, NYJ131370721613882.153
2006Cedric Houston, NYJ113374743512078.754
2005Kevin Jones, Det.186664201095206127.332
2005Shawn Bryson, Det.64306372841101102.044
2005Artose Pinner, Det.10634921181312792.052
2005Antowain Smith, N.O.16665912463178100.545
2005Aaron Stecker, N.O.9536335281013099.446
2005Deuce McAllister, N.O.9333517117311080.255
2004Priest Holmes, K.C.1968921918715215216.918
2004Larry Johnson, K.C.1205812227811142173.927
2004Derrick Blaylock, K.C.118539252469143157.529
2003Moe Williams, Min.174745656448239251.912
2003Onterrio Smith, Min.107579151295122117.838
2003Michael Bennett, Min.9044712132110275.950
2003Brian Westbrook, Phil.1176133733213154209.520
2003Duce Staley, Phil.96463363827132162.528
2003Correll Buckhalter, Phil.126542101339136131.534
2003Jamel White, Cle.70266463032116114.940
2003James Jackson, Cle.10238214114311681.647
2003William Green, Cle.1425591050115276.949
2001Cory Schlesinger, Det.47154604663107140.028
2001James Stewart, Det.143685232422166127.734
2001Lamont Warren, Det.61191403364101118.736

Final thought from me is that half (7) of those 14 running backs were prolific pass catchers, finishing the season with at least 50 receptions. Not surprising (PPR scoring), but it highlights my feeling that Johnson and Gaskin -- who should be the primary pass catchers in Houston and Miami -- seem to have the best chance to finish with usable fantasy production. Five of the other seven top-25 backs scored double-digit touchdowns. If you think Miami or Houston is going to have a running back score 10 touchdowns this season...well, good luck with that.

--Andy Richardson