Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has had an offseason to forget, with injuries piling up to the point where he will not be playing in the preseason and is questionable to start the regular season.
The team is saying that they are "optimistic" that he will play in Week 1, via Tania Ganguli of ESPN, but the continued concerns about the lingering back injury which has now crept into his legs are beginning to affect his fantasy value.
Foster entered the year as the consensus No. 2 running back in fantasy football behind Adrian Peterson, but his draft stock continues to tank as we get closer to the regular season, and he still hasn't seen the field. There are now big-money leagues such as the National Fantasy Football Championship where Foster is falling as low as No. 11 overall.
After having outperformed every other running back in the league over the past three seasons combined, seeing Foster fall nearly out of the first round is a shock. But it's also not particularly surprising.
Don't get me wrong—Foster is my guy. I've had him as my No. 2 overall pick for almost the entire offseason. But the reports of the injury spreading to his legs are a major, major concern.
At this point, it's fair to knock Foster out of the first round on your cheat sheet. In fact, it might not be if he falls out of the first round but rather how far he falls out.
On my own rankings, I have moved Foster down from where I had him as the No. 5 RB in the league, and he is now all the way down at No. 11 at the position. He checks in right after Alfred Morris and above Steven Jackson.
Based on those rankings, I have Foster as roughly a mid-second round pick.
There's no question that Foster is a top-5 pick, if he's healthy. By not taking him in Round 1, you are risking that he ends up on another team for an exceptional value. But by not taking him, you're also minimizing your own team's risk by giving yourself another high-quality player who may not have the same upside but has a significantly higher floor...not to mention, it'll be someone who you know will actually suit up in Week 1.
Drafting players who have high upsides is the name of the game in fantasy football, but it's equally important not to put yourself behind by selecting a player who could end up missing a significant chunk of playing time.
Let Foster slip by you in Round 1 and if he's still there in the middle of the second round, then maybe you reach up and take him in Round 2.
Just make sure that if you do end up with Foster on your roster that you handcuff him with Ben Tate.
Don't be shy to reach up a round or two above his average draft position just to be absolutely certain that you end up with Tate. The last thing you want to see is Foster injured and Tate performing like a top-10 running back on another team.
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