Note: This is the first of a miniseries of debates on fantasy football's top position prospects, geared to help you win your league.
Daniel Treadway On Arian Foster:
Since 1990 only a select few running backs have led the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in a single season: LaDanian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, Terrell Davis and Emmitt Smith among them. The only other back on that list? Arian Foster.
Last season, Foster burst on the scene for the Houston Texans to become one of the most dominant forces in the league. There’s really no reason to think that he, like others who lead the league in both rushing categories, won’t have several extremely productive seasons in the NFL. But naturally, as with any upstart player, there are some concerns that he could be a one-hit wonder.
Worry not, fantasy drafters desperately scrolling through this piece two minutes before draft time: There are multiple reasons why Arian Foster is in a good position to repeat his success from 2010.
Firstly, teams will not be able to crowd the box against Foster like they did against Chris Johnson last season. The Texans are arguably the best play-action team in the NFL and they have wide receiver Andre Johnson, who is almost unanimously considered the best in the league at his position. Teams will forced to respect the Texans' passing game again this season, meaning the same lanes that Foster ran through last season should be open again this year. It also shouldn’t be understated how much the Texans' stellar passing game will benefit Foster as a pass catcher -- last season he had over 600 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
In addition, concerns over Foster breaking down over the course of his second campaign as a starter should be allayed. The undrafted back out of Tennessee had his best rushing performances last season in week 1 and week 17, proving he is a very durable back.
Finally, based on the Texans' schedule, Foster just may carry your team to a championship. In weeks 14, 15 and 16 --the weeks in which most fantasy leagues schedule their playoffs -- the Texans will face the Bengals, Panthers and Colts, respectively. All three of these teams ranked in the top half of the league last season in both rushing yards allowed and rushing touchdowns allowed. Meaning Foster doesn’t only have the ability to take your team to the playoffs, but he might carry your squad all the way to the promised land.
Jordan Schultz On Adrian Peterson:
Arian Foster's track record was so bad at the University of Tennessee that his own fanbase referred to him as "Fumble Foster."
One-hit wonders come along often in the NFL. Look no further than Foster's teammate, running back Steve Slaton, who rushed for nearly 1,300 yards as a rookie before falling out of grace with Gary Kubiak.
To be clear, Foster is much better than Slaton. He's a tough runner who excels at catching the ball and hardly ever goes down on the first hit.
But neither does Adrian Peterson. You don't need me to tell you what a beast Peterson is, and how he's a freight train in space ... but I will say it anyway, because the guy is just that good.
In October of last year, Peterson became the fifth fastest player ever to run for 5,000 yards, doing so in his 51st game. He has the third-highest average yards per game total in NFL history (min. 50 games), behind only the great Jim Brown and Barry Sanders.
"Purple Jesus" hasn't missed a Pro Bowl since entering the league in 2007. To put it in perspective, his worst season ever was actually in 2010, when -- despite an anemic passing attack -- he still managed to rush for 1,298 yards and compile 13 touchdowns, while simultaneously leading my fantasy team to a league championship (sorry, I had to).
This season though, Peterson does have a quarterback, and a pretty good one at that.
With the recently acquired Donovan McNabb at the helm, Minnesota will have just the right blend of passing stability to complement Peterson and the run game properly. You are right, Mr. Treadway, in that Houston does have a dynamic aerial attack. The Matt Schaub-Andre Johnson connection is so lethal that it steals carries from Foster and forces Houston to deviate from the run.
McNabb in the pocket instills a fear that Favre didn’t last year. Other than Visanthe Shiancoe, the Vikings are devoid of a true red-zone threat. Toby Gerhart is clearly not ready to become a consistent backup, meaning that Peterson will continue to see a plethora of opportunities near paydirt.
The other element worth noting here is that the Texans have a healthy Ben Tate behind Foster. Many people had Tate slated as the clear-cut RB2 before a broken ankle in the preseason forced him to miss the entire 2010 season. Tate is a monstrous goal-line back who thrives in short yardage situations and is sure to steal carries from Foster, especially inside the five-yard line.
Lastly, talking about schedules, the Purple People Eaters play at Washington on fantasy championship weekend, facing off against a Redskins defense that ranked 26th last season in rush yards against. Simply put, go with "All Day" on draft day.
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