Since the 2010 season, no player in the game of football has more touches (1,115) than Houston Texans running back Arian Foster. Last year was Foster’s first season in which he carried the ball over 350 times. He is the definition of a true workhorse, but is this a good thing for his fantasy future?
Sure, Foster has been a touchdown machine since 2010, scoring a whopping 50 combined times during that span. There might not be a better short yardage back in the game than Foster, and with the amount of times the Texans run the ball, Foster is always a candidate to finish as fantasy’s top rusher. Now look. I’m not saying that it’s set in stone going to happen, but don’t be surprised if we see some serious regression from Foster in the 2013 season. His yards per carry has dropped in each of the past two seasons (4.4, 4.1). And the last time Foster rushed over 300 times, he followed that season with a drop in yardage, touchdowns, yards per carry and fumbled more. Keep in mind, it may be minor, but Foster has already been bit by the injury bug. He strained his calf during OTAs and will remain sidelined until the start of training camp. This is the third consecutive season in which Foster has been dealing with an offseason injury. Some fantasy analysts have actually lowered Foster in their rankings because of these issues. Personally, I am not, strictly because the touchdowns will certainly be there, if anything.
Let’s take a look back at some significant guys who have struggled after a season in which carrying the ball 350 times.
How about Edgerrin James? Playing alongside Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, James was an absolute fantasy stud for years. During his time there, he posted not one, not two, but three 350-carry seasons. There was no regression after his 369-carry season in 1999, but after carrying the ball a whopping 387 times in 2000, something very unfortunate happened. Six games into the 2001 season, James tore his ACL and quite frankly, was never really the same afterwards. Fast forward to 2005, his last season with the Colts. James was healthy, playing 15 games and carrying the ball 360 times. Then, one year later, his first with Arizona, there was some serious regression. Here are some significant regressions after a 350- carry season:
Next up, Larry Johnson. This guy absolutely broke out back in 2005 and 2006, carrying the ball a combined 752 times, scoring 37 rushing touchdowns over those two seasons. He was a legitimate fantasy star. Then, in 2007, just one year removed from two monster seasons, it all went downhill. Johnson held out during the offseason due to contract disputes, which kept him off of the field for OTAs. Finally, he and the Chiefs agreed to a deal, but during Week 9 of the season, Johnson was sidelined with a foot injury. It ended up being season-ending. He finished the season with 158 carries for 559 yards and just three scores. He was never really the same player again. After the unfortunate 2007 season, Johnson failed to play more than 12 games in a season and only scored five touchdowns from then on. He is now a free agent.
Now, am I necessarily saying that this will automatically happen to Foster? Of course not. Most likely, he will get banged up here and there and finish with at least 10 touchdowns every season. But what if he doesn’t? All I’m saying is, don’t overlook the fact that bodies do wear down after being feed the ball a plethora of times. It happens. Foster hasn’t exactly been a model of durability throughout his career. I still have him as my number two fantasy running back, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he could be a victim of regression in 2013.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.