August 05, 2010
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Approximately eight months ago, a brazen fantasy "expert" with a fire-eater's stones and a Dodo's brain recommended to the championship-seeking populace starting an unproven, virtually unknown Texans running back against the woeful Rams was a brilliant idea. His sterling totals were sure to bring plenty of "holiday cheer."
We're all familiar with the outcome.
Tabbed the starter earlier in the week by the always deceptive Gary Kubiak, Arian Foster(notes) was an attractive, albeit chancy, commodity to trust during the most crucial point in the fantasy football season (Week 14). Entering the week, St. Louis was the most generous run defense in the virtual game, surrendering 174.6 total yards per game and nine scores to rushers on the season. To the practicing Noistradomus, the odds of a handicapped three-toed sloth surpassing the century mark against the Rams were favorable.
After three touches, Foster stood disgusted on the sidelines. A costly fumble inside the red zone promptly ended his day. Near the Noise's compound in Champaign, Ill., bloodthirsty mobs, equipped with torches and various medieval instruments, began to gather in the surrounding cornfields …
Undeterred by last season's disastrous recommendation, we're quadrupling-down (the gross misfire is worth far more than double) on the undrafted rusher. Recall after his Week 14 debacle, Foster was sensational in his final two contests (at Mia and vs. NE), racking an impressive 242 total yards (5.8 ypt) and three touchdowns. The revealing effort afforded the former practice squader an opportunity to earn a full-time gig in training camp.
So far, Foster is seizing the moment.
In Fantasyland, the lambasted rusher is slowly regaining momentum lost. With Steve Slaton(notes) pegged for third-down work and rookie Ben Tate(notes), who missed mini-camp and several OTAs due to injury, frantically trying to catch up, Gary Kubiak has made it clear the former Tennessee standout is the man to beat. From the Associated Press:
Kubiak said the 23-year-old Foster is mature beyond his years and will be tough to unseat for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.
"He's just growing up and becoming a totally different young man," Kubiak said. "We are not going to have a battle about how he tries to give his effort. That's over. It's all about football with him. He got his chance and he is going to be a fine player. We are all excited to see what he's doing right now."
Foster is approaching this training camp with the same mindset as last year with one difference-instead of fighting for a roster spot, he's aiming for a starting role.
"My mentality hasn't really changed," he said. "Once you get an opportunity, you have to produce. You have to show them what you can do. I wasn't up at 5:30 (a.m.) this offseason for nothing, so my mentality isn't, ‘This spot is mine.' My mentality is, ‘This spot is going to get taken. I am going to take it."'
Foster's fierce determination and versatile skill set should continue to win points with Kubiak. Obviously, some sort of timeshare will be instituted, but because of Houston's electric passing game and expected trench improvement, the resolute rusher's chances of matching Slaton's output from 2008 isn't a ridiculous delusion. Someone will emerge. With a strong preseason, Foster will be that guy. Remember, before myriad injuries crippled his perceived value to franchises, he was labeled a second-round talent by the NFL Draft Advisory Committee in 2007. He, like Pierre Thomas(notes), who was also passed over on draft day, possesses better-than-advertised skills, especially in Houston's zone-blocking system.
Press your ear to the ground near any campsite and you're bound to hear plenty of propaganda. Listening to Shanahan glow about Clinton Portis(notes) and it's hard not to believe the over-the-hill veteran is destined to save innocent Na'vi from humans' lust for unobtainium. Every tidbit, no matter how tasty, should be taken with a grain of salt.
But based on Foster's insanely cheap price tag (ADP: 112.9, RB44), he's well worth the minimal investment. The profit could be enormous. Assuming his grip on the starting job doesn't loosen, he will be a true shocker special. A top-15 season isn't unfathomable.
Though it may be extremely difficult to supress the pain Foster (and the Noise) inflicted during '09's fantasy playoffs, it's time to forgive and forget.
Fearless Forecast (15 G): 261 carries, 1,148 rushing yards, 33 receptions, 323 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
Image courtesy of the AP