Arian Foster was banged up before the 2013 season even started. His draft position slipped as Fantasy owners speculated that the wear and tear on his body would begin to show before too long. Week 9 saw the Texans make a terrible game time decision to play Foster and in Week 10, prophecy became truth; Foster was placed on injured reserve, his season over. It was mercy for Fantasy owners.
In redraft leagues he was released by his owners, but in keeper leagues the decision isn’t so easy. Trade season is in full effect and that’s when keeper leagues make those sell out/all in decisions about 2013 and 2014. This week, Brandon C. Williams and Chris Mitchell debate whether to buy, sell, keep or cut Arian Foster in keeper leagues.
POINT – Brandon C. Williams
Good afternoon, class. Welcome to Fantasy Keeperology 101; Professor Williams is here to present the first equation of the semester:
RB with heavy workload + back surgery/disappointing, injury-plagued season = ?
Those who answered “release him” will be credited with an “A” and are free to leave class. The rest of you must sit through the following lecture.
Texans RB Arian Foster entered this season with 1,115 regular season touches over the previous three years. Tack on an extra 128 touches in four playoff games, along with a history of hamstring issues, and the fact that Foster missed the entire preseason with a variety of injuries, and what does that add up to, boys and girls?
You guessed it: a Fantasy risk. Yet, one that didn’t deter most owners, who willingly chose Foster as a Top 5 running back in the hopes that the eventual breakdown would come down the road instead of on their watch. OOOPS!
Foster is done for the 2013 season, as back surgery closed the book on a mammoth disappointment of production. Foster scored just two touchdowns on 142 total touches, and will enter next summer as a sixth-year pro whose injuries could short-circuit what appeared to be a potential LaDainian Tomlinson-like stretch of consistency.
The state of running backs in Fantasy Football is such that considering keeping Foster is foolish in keeper leagues. Each season brings new faces into the fray of productive backs, and if this season isn’t a shining example, then….well….has the thought of repeating this class struck you yet?
If you release Foster, there’s a better than average chance you could regain him next season, since he will be the equal of one of the infected people in the movie “28 Days Later.” Foster could re-emerge as a solid RB2, but his days of first-round glory are but a memory at this point. There’s no need to waste a keeper spot on a running back whose recovery could be iffy, not to mention the fact that he’s on a team that is on the decline. What part of that sounds good?
Foster is one of the league’s good guys, but keeper league spots belong to those who produce, not those who can offer cool quotes or an enlightening moment or two on NFL Network. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s time to move on from Arian Foster when it comes to maintaining your keeper/dynasty team.
COUNTERPOINT – by Chris Mitchell
The 2013 Fantasy season is officially over for Arian Foster after being placed on IR last and Fantasy owners across this great land were relieved. The game time decisions and disappointing production are what we got instead of the two and three touchdown games we longed for from days gone by. But don’t let a miserable 2013 lead you to do anything brash like cut bait with the TD machine. Don’t do it now. Don’t you do it! Take a deep breath. Take another. Now focus your thoughts on 1,628 yards with 15 touchdowns in 2012, and 1,841 yards with 10 touchdowns in only 13 games in 2011. That is the real Arian Foster and he is a keeper. He is the elite running back that’s a strong buy-low candidate. That is the Arian Foster we have to remember when making those shrewd decisions at the 2013 trade deadline. Arian Foster is a keeper going into 2014, and if you don’t have him then grab your mouse, slide that arrow on over to the team using a roster spot on him and click PROPOSE TRADE… and here is why.
THE WORKLOAD ISSUE
Speculation in preseason was that Arian Foster may have a down year, but the angle was that he was starting to show wear and tear from a “heavy workload.” If you look back at the media coverage and speculation surrounding Foster in training camp you will see, as I did, that there were doubts about whether Foster was healthy after an offseason spent recovering from injuries to his calf and back. It is clear to me that he came into 2013 hurt, not worn down from a mythical workload that doesn’t exist. Foster did tote the rock like an elite running back in 2011 and 2012, this is true, but the key part of that phrase is applicable to 2011 and 2012. Arian Foster has not had a heavy workload overall by any stretch of the imagination in his NFL career. Let’s look at the career touches of the elite running backs and compare them to Foster to see how much wear and tear there actually is on those all purpose radials.
|Player||Touches (Carries + Receptions)||Seasons in NFL|
In 2009 Arian Foster only played six games with a total of 62 touches. That year shouldn’t even be counted. I know what you’re saying, “Well, his career has been short but like Earl Campbell it must have been brutal.” Arian Foster is a physical runner but he isn’t a brutal, bone-crushing back. Marshawn Lynch is the running back on this list with that designation. Over the last three seasons, Foster has been in the Top 3 in touches. He led the league in touches in 2010 and 2012, beating out Adrian Peterson by a WHOPPING three touches in 2012. In 2011, he was second in touches behind Maurice Jones-Drew. That means he is an elite feature back, it doesn’t mean he was run into the ground.
Foster came into training camp in 2013 with lingering injuries and he’s suffered all season due to them. His calf and back issues led to the hamstring problems (the one lingering injury that Foster has had throughout his career) that are now being blamed for the returned back issues that ended his season. Foster isn’t bearing the weight of a long career with mounting hits and worn out legs. He has fewer touches and fewer years on his legs than most of the elite backs in the game. He came into the season with punctured rubber and warped rims and he broke down. He has had three seasons of heavy workloads, but a six foot tall, 200 pound running back can handle that. He isn’t Emmitt Smith when he signed with Arizona, or Shaun Alexander after he signed his final contract with Seattle.
2014 PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION
Looking ahead to the 2014 Fantasy draft season I believe you will see Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy ranked as the obvious elite first round running backs. There will be speculation surrounding “heavy workloads” with both Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch. The impact on their estimated draft position will be very interesting to watch. You will see 2013 first round picks like C.J. Spiller, Ray Rice, and Trent Richardson drop significantly due to their miserable 2013 seasons, while Alfred Morris and Stevan Ridley drop, but it will not quite the plummet that I expect to see from the previous big three. Running backs like Eddie Lacy, Zac Stacy, Doug Martin, Le’Veon Bell and Arian Foster will all be studied and picked apart because we really don’t know what exactly to expect. Do you believe in their 2013 seasons? Is Foster healthy, and is “workload” a true issue? Why was Doug Martin so bad when he was healthy? Greg Schiano will probably be gone, so Martin’s role under the new coaching staff will be analyzed and overanalyzed in all likelihood.
I believe Foster will be ranked in the Top 6-8 in most Fantasy Expert preseason draft rankings. That means that right now we know that Foster is at worst a Top 20 overall pick. What if Foster comes back 100 percent in the preseason and performs like the power rusher who catches balls on third down and scores touchdowns in bunches? In other words, the Foster we all loved. How many impressive preseason games will it take for analysts to forget this “heavy workload” guff? Trust me; his stock will be higher than it is now, and considerably higher than C.J. Spiller, Trent Richardson or Ray Rice. If you have Foster then you have to keep him. If he is available in a trade then you have to buy him, but under no circumstances should you cut him in keeper leagues. You will be kicking yourself all 2014 long if you do.