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Spotlight: Arian Foster

posted by Andrew Garda on Jul 24th


Andrew Garda's thoughts

Nothing is more American than a rags-to-riches success story and if that's the case Arian Foster must be one flag-waving son of a gun. The undrafted free agent out of Tennessee was an afterthought in both NFL and fantasy circles, when most owners thought rookie Ben Tate would be the guy to watch in Houston.

However, the Houston Texans (as well as smart fantasy owners) knew Foster had the ability to have a real impact and that's exactly what he did when Tate went down to injury.

Foster roared out of the gate with a staggering 231-yard, three touchdown performance against Indianapolis opening week. While he had a few bad games, for the most part Foster had a fantastic season and was productive on a level few--if any--owners could have predicted.

There's not much to dislike about Foster going into the 2011 season but there a few concerns.

First of all, it appears that Foster's amazing season happened on an injured knee. According to an article in the Sporting News, Foster played with a torn meniscus in his knee. It's supposed to be repaired and all better but it is a concern and since there has been no team monitoring of rehab in the offseason (such as it is), it's hard to know for sure how far along he is.

Still, for a guy with a torn meniscus...WOW. Needless to say, Foster is an unbelievably tough football player. He could have shut down any time in the last month of the season. The Texans were out of it and many players might have checked out and gotten the surgery with their team out of contention.

Not Foster. Not only did he keep playing, he did so effectively. In his last four games he topped 100 yards on the ground twice, totaled more than 100 yards overall three times, and scored three touchdowns. On the down side, his performance against Tennessee was one of his worst and may have knocked his owners out of the Fantasy playoffs.

The other minor concern about Foster is second year player Ben Tate. Tate was brought on to challenge for the lead back position but ended up on the IR early in his rookie season. While he will not replace Foster, he may eat into his carries as the Texans spell their bellcow to keep him fresh for the end of the season. Tate has talent but was mostly a preseason fantasy darling because of situation. That situation is gone, but the Texans will use him to keep Foster fresh.

Foster's contract status is another potential concern, though rumors abound that Foster isn't in it for the cash. Foster is scheduled to make only $480,000 this year after leading the league in rushing in 2010, but according to reports is not worried about the money and not looking to hold out.

While that is likely good news for his owners, I want to remind everyone we've heard this before. I wouldn't avoid Foster based on the concern, but once the CBA is dealt with, it's a situation we should all keep an eye on just in case.

Once he gets on the field, Foster has the tools to succeed and more than a little help from the surrounding offense. Having Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels being thrown to by Matt Schaub will keep defenses from focusing too much on Foster and allowing him to use his speed, agility and quickness to break off some great yardage.

Positives

  • Potent offense keeps opposing defenses from keying on Foster and the run game
  • Tremendous 2010 season has locked him into the starting job
  • Has the toughness to play through injury and still be a tremendous asset to his team

Negatives

  • Second year player Ben Tate could eat into his carries
  • While supposedly healed, will the leg stay healthy?
  • Has only done it for one year--will he be a one hit wonder?

Final thoughts

Foster is a tremendous running back and while he has some question marks, those are things that I feel I've shown to be minor worries. Yes, he lacks a long term history that an Adrian Peterson has, but in 2009 over the course of six games, his numbers were just as good. His 4.8 yards per carry and three touchdowns, coupled with last season, back up the idea that Foster is a true talent. Foster proved last season that he can carry you to fantasy victory and this year he is the top option in every draft.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

FF Ninja said:

Arian took a running game that had been stagnant and made it very productive. Having watched this team struggle to open holes for so long, I am not a believer that he was just in a good situation. Slaton managed to hit some home runs in 2008, but no one could find holes in 2009 until Foster came in at the very end of the year against some weaker defenses. That being said, there is a definite possibility that his carries could go down and his yards per carry could increase should Houston make a move to improve their line (as a homer, I kind of doubt it happens). At the very least, he will likely be spelled a little more this year. Both to keep him fresh and to see what they've got in Ben Tate. Overall, he should still be worth the #1 pick when compared to the current situations of the other two guys in consideration. Should AP and CJ find themselves with rookie QBs starting, this decision is a no brainer if it wasn't already. If both teams sign veterans, it becomes a little murky, but Foster's involvement in the passing game and his effectiveness as a goal line runner should provide confidence that he'll maintain elite production on a high powered offense. Not to mention his lower mileage than the other two guys.

Ghost Rider said:

I don't see any reason he can't come close to last year's numbers. The yardage and touchdowns both might drop off a tad, but he should still be a top RB, barring injury. Not only is he a dynamic runner, but he is an outstanding pass catcher (66 catches last year). It is easy to say he will be a one-year wonder, especially if you didn't see him play that much, but if you saw him play, you know he's the real deal.

fightingillini said:

I don't think that Foster is a one year wonder. No reason to believe that he won't be a top 5 RB, since he is an excellent receiver and doesn't have any competition for a serious piece of the HOU running game. With CJ and ADP potentially having rookie QBs, I feel it's a no-brainer that Foster should be the #1 pick. If TEN or MIN brings in a decent veteran QB, then that could change. Anyway, Foster will not last past the 3rd pick of any draft this year.


Arian Foster projections

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