Recently, Foster was ranked by esteemed NFL.com writer Gregg Rosenthal as the 10th-best player in the league today.
NFL Network's highly controversial—that's being nice—Top 100 players of 2013 list rated Foster as the No. 8 player in football.
He indisputably deserves an elite running back distinction if we're basing that distinction on overall averages over the past three seasons. However, that's not the desired criteria—his individual efficiency is, which is more telling than elementary yard and touchdown statistics.
Here's how Foster's 2012 production stacks up against some of the league's best backs (rookies were not included):
Clearly, Foster was one of the least efficient running backs of that select group.
But, hey, everyone's allowed to have a down year before they're buried, right?
With Foster though, his statistics and relative effectiveness has steadily declined in many key areas in each of the last three seasons:
They can be utilized in a calculated way to simply support a preconceived notion.
That's not the intention here.
Is Arian Foster still an elite RB?
In theory, if the Baltimore Ravens wanted to get Ray Rice to 20 rushing touchdowns in 2013, they could simply hand him the ball on nearly every snap inside the 10-yard line, and chances are, he'd get close to the planned benchmark.
That's why Foster's rushing touchdown totals were purposely omitted while per-carry statistics—one's that aren't necessarily reliant on the team around the running back—were highlighted.
Foster will turn 27 on September 24 of this year, and his first touch of the 2013 campaign will be the 1,178th of his career.
On a per-game basis, compared to his fellow star runners, Foster has been used more frequently during his career:
Heck, what do I know?
Foster could have a career resurgence this season.
But if we're basing what Foster did in 2012—which was a regression from 2011, which was a regression from his breakout 2010 season—to label him as an elite, Top-10 overall player, well, then, it's quite obvious that the lofty designation is blatantly incorrect.
Frankly, as it currently stands, there are a handful of backs who are more efficient and effective than Arian Foster, which would place him on the cusp, but not part of the "elite" running back group.