While it remains very hard to argue against taking Arian Foster top-five in any fantasy football draft this summer, the Foster as an elite running back debate is perhaps now on the table. Chase Stuart of Football Perspective and Stephanie Stradley of the Houston Chronicle, among others, have tackled the “declining” question and it’s only been gaining steam since the Houston Texans‘ featured back posted a 4.1 yards-per-carry average last season — dropping from 4.4 in 2011 after 4.9 in 2010.
Stradley made some cogent points that pose good things for Foster’s 2013 prospects, including an underrated addition in free agency:
“In 2013, the Texans look to be going back to the traditional fullback model, bringing in Greg Jones before the offseason starts so he can work with the group the entire camp,” Stradley wrote. “Assuming his health, I think that will be a net positive to Foster’s numbers bringing in an experienced, proven fullback who can work with the offense the entire offseason.”
While breaking offensive line continuity and the increased carry total also factor into Foster’s decreased yards per carry, Pro Football Focus has released a 2012 Top 101 players list that does not deem his overall game as making the grade. The Texans weren’t discriminated in any way with J.J. Watt (No. 1), Andre Johnson (No.9), Duane Brown (No. 13) and Antonio Smith (No. 72) all making the list. PFF’s metrics don’t ostensibly shine harshly on Foster or running backs in particular either, as Foster did earn a No. 29 ranking for 2011 despite playing in three fewer games.
Running backs that hopped Foster to make PFF’s 2012 list include No. 2 Adrian Peterson, No. 18 CJ Spiller, No. 38 Alfred Morris, No. 40 Marshawn Lynch, No. 71 Frank Gore and No. 88 Doug Martin.