What happened to Arian Foster?
I’m in two fantasy football leagues, and that was the takeaway from both drafts. Expected to go as high as second and not beyond fourth or fifth overall, Foster went in the first round at No. 7 in one of my drafts and at No. 10 in the other.
In standard leagues, I haven’t heard about many alternatives to Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson as the first overall pick, but Houston’s Foster — who has solidified himself as a workhorse and one of the NFL’s top running backs — has been incredibly productive in the last three seasons. And durable, as he has buttoned his chin strap in 45 of Houston’s last 48 regular-season games.
That’s why no one would have blinked, laughed, grunted, or caused a scene at either of my drafts if someone picking second, third, or fourth selected Foster. But 10th?
Count me as one of those who passed on him, twice. After reading reports that Foster was unlikely to play in the preseason because Texans coach Gary Kubiak wanted to ease him into regular-season play, and knowing that the capable Ben Tate was playing behind Foster, I decided to roll with Alfred Morris in both leagues, with the fourth and sixth picks.
As long as he’s healthy (a big “if” in today’s NFL), Foster will make his owners happy. No doubt he has taken a beating in the last three years, but in that time, he also amassed 4,264 yards and 41 touchdowns. He’ll also give you 40-50 receptions and two receiving touchdowns per season. Roll him out there and he’ll produce.
Foster dropping like a stone thrown from a helicopter is as much a byproduct of depth at the running back position as it is fear of him getting hurt or losing carries. Both of my leagues are 12-team, standard scoring leagues, and in each, 10 of the 12 first-round picks were running backs. The only non-running backs taken were quarterbacks Drew Brees and Tom Brady and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
The trend last season shifted to more quarterbacks being selected in the first round (my first-round pick in one league was Matthew Stafford of the Lions; needless to say, I missed the playoffs), but people obviously wised up this season and started picking off running backs.
The NFL has plenty of productive backs, but if you weren’t careful while drafting and you ignored the position until the third round, you’re probably looking at Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, or — take deep breaths — Darren McFadden as your top back. Good luck.
Look over your roster. If you have more than one kicker, more than one defense, or more than two quarterbacks, it’s time to adjust. Find a website that provides depth charts and pick up some backup running backs. Chances are, they’ll end up helping you.
Ed Ryan can be reached at ed_ryan
@globe.com and on Twitter @edzoryan.