Arian Foster has been officially ruled out for Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season. Foster's injury has been one of the hottest topics in the fantasy football realm ever since he tweeted x-rays of his injured hammy, sending fantasy owners into a frenzy.
After last season’s breakout campaign, Foster was anointed the No. 1 running back in fantasy football. However, his stock has seen a slight dip as he sits on the bench trying to recover.
Now, the Houston Texans will employ a running back by committee approach without their workhorse to carry the load.
So, who will be impacted most?
Steve Slaton was once deemed to be the Houston Texans running back of the future after his breakout rookie season.
However, Slaton has failed to make a consistent impact since his inaugural season.
Now, Slaton isn’t much more than an afterthought on the Texans. His future with the team is in serious doubt after the emergence of Arian Foster and the drafting of Ben Tate.
You can ignore Slaton in even the deepest formats.
Widely deemed to be the best wide receiver in the NFL, Andre Johnson’s already high stock will shoot up a bit further with Arian Foster out.
Expect Matt Schaub to air it out in his direction far more frequently now that the Texans’ running game won’t be as heavily relied upon.
Johnson’s status as No. 1 wide receiver in fantasy football remains the same.
While Ben Tate sits behind Derrick Ward, he’s arguably the second most talented back on the Houston Texans behind Arian Foster.
Tate has been getting a ton of hype and, despite his status as the No. 3 back on the depth chart, will be an interesting option to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Tate doesn’t have a whole lot of value right now, but the work load split he gets, on top of Foster's injury, will determine his worth moving forward.
With Arian Foster out, the Houston Texans offense may shift away from a balanced attack to more of a vertical one. This bodes well for Matt Schaub’s fantasy prospects as he’ll get more opportunities to air it out to Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels.
Schaub definitely gets a stock up for this game and moving forward—well, as long as Foster is out or limited—with the passing attack likely to be featured.
The only problem with Foster’s absence is that Schaub’s targets may not get as much man-on-man coverage—Johnson in particular should see a number of double teams.
Owen Daniels will undoubtedly see a boost with Arian Foster out to injury.
When Matt Schaub starts to feel the pocket closing in on him, he just needs to dump it off to Daniels.
Owners that passed up on Daniels in favor of Jimmy Graham in the draft will start to regret it —expect a big game out of Daniels against the Indianapolis Colts.
Derrick Ward has been designated as the first option behind Arian Foster. Drawing the start, Ward will likely get the most touches and chances to rack up points.
However, all that could quickly change should he prove ineffective.
Ward will be useful as long as he remains the starter while Foster is out. If and when Foster comes back, Ward may still be a worthwhile roster stash as long as he maintains his status as No. 2 option.
For those playing in PPR leagues, Ward will have an even greater impact.