Arian Foster has a legitimate chance to break the NFL’s single-game rushing record on Sunday. Statistically, it’s a perfect storm for the Houston Texans running back. He’ll be at home against a Baltimore Ravens defense that allowed 5.4 yards per carry in Baltimore last week to Dallas Cowboys running backs.
DeMarco Murray missed the overwhelming majority of the second half. Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and the ever-present Felix Jones combined for 134 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries (4.8 yards per carry).
Murray finished with 93 yards on 14 carries—a 6.6 average.
Foster will likely need to average more than 6.6 yards per carry to break the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson’s record of 296 yards rushing (set against the San Diego Chargers in 2007, his rookie year). Peterson did it on 30 attempts, which is an average of almost a first down (9.9 yards) per carry.
Without Ray Lewis in the middle, the Baltimore run defense looks a lot less scary. He was in the game for the majority of Sunday’s contest. Foster, therefore, is more than capable of stringing together a game’s worth of rushing attempts that average seven yards apiece.
It’s just a matter of how much work he gets.
Peterson’s 30 attempts represent the highest volume of work he saw in any one game during his rookie season. He took 25 carries once and ran the ball exactly 20 times in four separate contests.
Conversely, Foster gets force-fed the rock on a regular basis. His lightest workload was a 17-carry outing in Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers. The Texans were getting blasted on defense the entire game, eventually giving up 42 points via six passing touchdowns from Aaron Rodgers.
Besides that game (the Texans’ only loss this season), Foster has a bare minimum of 24 carries. If he finds himself approaching the record, coach Gary Kubiak may call his number even more frequently to give him a chance to get it.
Other coaches have given their star runners opportunities to reach milestones like that in the past. One example is in the Texans’ division: the Tennessee Titans’ Chris Johnson.
Johnson got the ball out of the backfield a whopping 36 times in Week 17 of 2009 to clinch his 2,000-yard season. His second-highest attempt count that season was 29—in an overtime game against the Dolphins in Week 15.
Of course, Foster is the No. 1 fantasy running back heading into Sunday’s games.
Thursday Night Football matched up two tough, run-first offenses against two rugged defenses, and the starting running backs in question came out with 100 yards apiece. Marshawn Lynch took 20 touches for 116 yards against the San Francisco 49ers defense.
Frank Gore, meanwhile, racked up 182 total yards against the Seattle Seahawks on 21 touches. Neither guy scored a touchdown, but the yardage was a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners that rolled with their studs on Thursday night.
For the rest of us, there are still 12 remaining games in Week 7 of the NFL schedule. Here are the top 40 fantasy running backs heading into Sunday’s slate.
1. Arian Foster, Houston Texans (vs. Baltimore Ravens)
3. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens (at Houston Texans)
4. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans (at Buffalo Bills)
8. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars (at Oakland Raiders)
9. Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys (at Carolina Panthers)
11. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Arizona Cardinals)
12. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at New York Giants)
14. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (vs. Tennessee Titans)
16. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (vs. Tennessee Titans)
17. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
18. Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Cleveland Browns)
19. Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams (vs. Green Bay Packers)
20. Alex Green, Green Bay Packers (at St. Louis Rams)
21. Shonn Grenne, New York Jets (at New England Patriots)
22. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (vs. Green Bay Packers)
23. Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions (at Chicago Bears)
24. Ben Tate, Houston Texans (vs. Baltimore Ravens)
25. Michael Bush, Chicago Bears (vs. Detroit Lions)
26. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (vs. Dallas Cowboys)
27. William Powell, Arizona Cardinals (at Minnesota Vikings)
28. LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. New Orleans Saints)
29. Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers (at Cincinnati Bengals)
30. Phillip Tanner, Dallas Cowboys (at Carolina Panthers)
31. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (vs. Dallas Cowboys)
32. Mike Goodson, Oakland Raiders (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
33. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (vs. New York Jets)
34. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
35. David Wilson, New York Giants (vs. Washington Redskins)
36. John Kuhn, Green Bay Packers (at St. Louis Rams)
37. Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots (vs. New York Jets)
38. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
39. LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals (at Minnesota Vikings)
40. Andre Brown, New York Giants (vs. Washington Redskins)