Are the Houston Texans Ruining Arian Foster?
Through two weeks of the NFL season, Arian Foster is making his doubters look silly. Foster has shown the same elusiveness, vision, and speed we’re accustomed to seeing out of the veteran running back throughout the course of his career. If you drafted him at his second-round average draft position, he's looking like a really nice value so far.
Unfortunately, Father Time is never kind to running backs, and Arian Foster just turned 28 years old. Even though he's looked good, he's carried the ball 55 times through two games. Regardless of age and career workload (1,186 carries), any running back in the NFL averaging 27 carries and 2 receptions per game is at an increased risk of injury.
In fact, Arian Foster was just added to the injury report on Wednesday with a hamstring issue. Given Foster’s current and past injury issues, should his fantasy owners be concerned about his massive workload going forward? Can he hold up through the course of a grueling season?
Arian Foster has been fed the football throughout the first two weeks of the season. Here are his rushing and receiving statistics, as well as his Net Expected Points metrics, thus far:
|Week||Rushes||Yards||TD||Receptions||Yards||Rushing NEP||Reception NEP|
Alfred Blue: The Man If Foster Falls?
What if Arian Foster gets injured this season due to his usage? Who will carry the load for the Texans?
Presumably, the handcuff right now is rookie Alfred Blue, the back Bill O’Brien has used to spell Arian Foster thus far.
There was some speculation that the 24-year-old runner from William & Mary, Jonathan Grimes, may be the backup to Foster, but after only recording four carries compared to Alfred Blue’s 12 through Week 2, it’s clear Blue is the handcuff Foster owners want.
There's a decent chance that, if Foster does get hurt, the Texans will simply go with a running back-by-committee between Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes. On paper, Jonathan Grimes’ metrics are much better than Blue’s, and if given significant playing time, Grimes could be pretty good.
|Player||Age||Height||Weight||40-yard||3-cone||Vertical Jump||Athleticism score|
According to PlayerProfiler.com, Blue isn’t the best of athletes. In fact, his "Athleticism Score" is in the second percentile (98% of running backs score higher) while Jonathan Grimes is in the 79th percentile. The Athleticism Score summarizes a running back’s workout performances nominalized by BMI. Value’s over 105.0 are considered extraordinary for a running back.
For fantasy purposes though, opportunity, not athleticism, is what matters most. And right now, Alfred Blue is the handcuff Foster owners want. Given Blue’s preseason and regular season usage, the Texans seem to like Blue a bit more than Grimes. It’s still important to note that while Blue has the opportunity, Jonathan Grimes is the much better athlete and he could certainly find his way into some playing time if Arian Foster were to get hurt.
Arian Foster's outlook hasn't changed all that much. He’s still a low-end RB1 in standard and PPR scoring, and it's obviously great to see him back to old form for the time being. But if his workload continues at it’s current rate, Foster’s body may deteriorate as the season goes along. The good news is that the Texans haven’t played in very many competitive games in the first two weeks, and once they start throwing the ball substantially more, Foster’s workload will decrease on it’s own.