I’ve been checking out a lot of fantasy football draft sites to compare my rankings and sleepers to theirs. I’ve noticed that many fantasy sites have Arian Foster as the #1 running back and consequently the #1 overall player. I thought about this but I just can’t rank him #1 and say he’s the best fantasy player in the league. Don’t get me wrong, he’s my #2 running back and I do believe he’s talented but there is just so much we don’t know about him yet.
There have been plenty of players recently that we’re one year wonders. There we’re a couple that played well but disappointed the following season after 1 exceptional year (Chris Johnson comes to mind). It can happen to anyone though. Remember the year the Browns had in 2007? Braylon Edwards, Derek Anderson and Jamal Lewis all declined after that 1 great season. Edwards had 16 TD’s that season and in the 4 years since then has only amassed 14 more. He was the next great WR. He just broke out in his 3rd season and many took him in the 2nd-3rd round in their 2008 fantasy drafts. His 2008 season was a huge disappointment as he finished with 400 less yards and just 3 TD catches. We all know what happened to Derek Anderson, who was also being drafted high in 2008, so there’s no point in even covering that. At least in Lewis’ case he was old and already wearing down so you might have seen that one coming.
After that, the next greatest one year wonder is the Houston Texans own Steve Slaton. Slaton burst onto the scene as a rookie and totalled nearly 1300 rushing yards, 10 TD’s and 50 receptions. He too was in line to be the next great running back and a PPR monster. Instead he struggled with fumbling problems and was benched. He has only managed slightly over 500 yards since his rookie year. He was rated as a 1st round pick following his rookie season so owners had to pay for his blunders, including myself.
Michael Turner is another guy you have to bring up in this conversation. He rushed for 1699 yards and 17 TD’s in 2008. He has never returned to his old form since then and has struggled with injuries and overall sluggishness. He wasn’t so much a one year wonder but he never returned to that high level of play we all expected, which could very well happen to Foster as well.
Yes, the other side of the argument is that Foster could be legit and could really be the next great NFL star. Look at Adrian Peterson who has been remarkably consistent ever since he stepped foot in the NFL. His play never dropped even though he went through a season where Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson we’re his QB’s. I’m just pointing out some of the risks and why I don’t feel comfortable in taking him #1 overall.
Let’s look closer at his situation and what could hurt his numbers next season.
First of all he has a bit of an injury history, specifically his knees, which is never a good sign for a running back. In 2006 he was hampered by an ankle injury at Tennessee. He missed spring camp in 2008 because of knee surgery. Foster even had to leave the Senior Bowl due to swelling in his knee. Most recently, he had surgery on his knee this off-season after suffering an injury in the pro-bowl. He’s been banged up numerous times in his career but he played through it. I’m afraid he may be worn down since he had a lot of touches this past season, 393 to be exact. That’s a lot for a guy who has had at least 2 surgeries on his knees. There’s no telling how long he can hold up but this is definitely a red flag. Ben Tate also figures to take away some carries from him. People are quick to dismiss Tate but they are forgetting that he was supposed to be the starter this year, not Foster, and he was drafted in the 2nd round. You don’t draft a back in the 2nd round just to give him 5 carries a game to spell Foster. That doesn’t make sense. Tate will be involved in the offense and limit Foster’s workload. Foster’s work ethic has also been questioned in the past although he vows to be a changed man. He also had fumbling problems at Tennessee but that too looks to be behind him.
You don’t know what to expect with Foster and that’s not what you want out of your 1st round pick, let alone the #1 overall pick. You can’t afford to go wrong with your first rounder so I recommend you go with the proven player as opposed to the “new best thing”. You are taking a big risk if you take Foster and even if he does stay healthy and he does continue his great play, chances are he won’t be getting near 1600 yards again. My projection for him is 1350 rushing yards and that is the best case scenario in my opinion.
Don’t take mistake my words for facts. I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong before. Just take this as a warning. You may think you’re drafting Arian Foster but ironically could end up drafting Slaton 2.0.