Granted, not too many fans in Houston will be complaining if the team continues its 2-0 start, one that includes a demoralizing, 34-7 beatdown of the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1. But even if Foster can effectively help his real-life squad win without posting monster numbers, that will do little to soothe the sting of owners who drafted the dual-threat as the centerpiece of their make-believe teams.
Unfortunately, there are red flags aplenty that hint Foster could be a fantasy bust (relatively speaking) in 2011, that things won't get much better for the explosive back.
The breakout star of 2010 didn't play in the aforementioned shellacking of the perennial AFC South bullies because of a balky hamstring. Then, against the underwhelming Miami Dolphins in Week 2, Arian didn't exactly set the world afire, tallying 33 yards on 10 carries along with two catches on a pair of targets for seven yards.
So those modest numbers are also Foster's season totals through two weeks. Behold, your first-round bounty!
You could point to several factors that would explain away the running back's slow start as just that, a slow start to what will be an otherwise superlative year. The strongest bullet point being the time/practice Foster missed rehabbing the hamstring and the consequential rust any elite athlete suffers after an extended layoff.
In all objectivity, that's a valid point.
But the strikes against Foster being the elite fantasy producer he was supposed to be are beginning to mount.
For one thing, there is that hamstring injury.
Who knows exactly how well it's healed and how good the Texan is feeling? The reports can only be as accurate as the source, and NFL players are generally tougher than your average bear.
Foster could be playing at less than whatever limited capacity to which he's admitting. Even if he is 100 percent healthy at some point in the near future, hamstrings are tricky muscles—a re-occurrence wouldn't be the most shocking thing in the world. We've already seen him leave the Dolphins game after aggravating the hammy to some degree so, regardless of how bad the situation is, you have to be worried if you're attached to the franchise.
In addition to health, however, Houston's propensity to ride the hot hand and spread the offensive love could also work against the 25-year-old.
Remember that the former Tennessee Volunteer only broke on the scene because of an injury to Ben Tate, who is back this season and running well. Additionally, you've got the ever-dangerous Andre Johnson and underrated Owen Daniels requiring attention at the wide receiver and tight end positions, respectively.
Tate has rushed for over 100 yards in both Houston victories while both Johnson and Daniels caught touchdowns on Sunday.
In other words, Matt Schaub's offensive cup runneth over.
Clearly, Foster's numbers will improve as he gets back in the flow of the potent Texans offense and he gets back in game shape. He wasn't expected to be the featured weapon versus Miami, so it's not altogether shocking that he wasn't.
Furthermore, a guy this talented doesn't simply erupt on the scene to immediately slip back into obscurity—the Texan coaching staff would be guilty of criminal neglect were that to happen.
So he's going to be a good asset at running back for fantasy owners. Of course, he wasn't drafted to be just good. Foster was drafted to be incredible, to carry teams to the playoffs and beyond.
And that means Foster owners are in for some serious disappointment.
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