Word has surfaced that Arian Foster has suffered a groin injury and it’s said to be serious. There is talk of Foster being placed on the IR with a designation to return. Assuming he is placed on this list, which seems very likely at this point, he would not be able to return until week 9. That happens to be the Houston Texans’ bye week, so his first game back wouldn’t be until week 10.
Arian Foster’s severe groin injury will require surgery but he should be able to return during the season
— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) August 4, 2015
Let me insert some optimism before we get to far down the road to bummerville. Foster missed 3 games last season and was still able to be the 5th best running back in fantasy football. Even if we only get 6 games of production from Foster, we should assume it will be close to elite production. The question becomes, who may step in during Foster’s absence? First off the obvious player to target as the handcuff for Foster is Alfred Blue. He filled in for Foster last season during the three games he missed. The problem with Blue is while he has nice size for a feature back, he lacks the explosion to a productive running back. He averaged 3.1 yards per carry last season on 169 touches. Assuming the Texans stay committed to him, the potential for Blue to have a nice week is there, like he showed against the Cleveland Browns when he ran for 156 yards. Unfortunately it took him 36 carries to amass that yardage. There may be some pessimism around Blue, but we must remember that even if we see Blue as “ineffective,” the team may believe in Blue he may shoulder the majority of the load. Shonn Greene and Matt Asiata nod in agreement. After Blue, Chris Polk is a name that has potential to be very interesting. He spent his first three seasons in Philadelphia. Jonathan Grimes and Kenny Hilliard are the other names to consider. Grimes is an interesting name to watch. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry last season in spot duty. Polk and Blue are dealing with issues early in camp, so Grimes may have a shot to grab a strong look. Paying attention to practice reports, coaches quotes and preseason work load will be key.
Alfred Blue was carted off the practice field Monday night. We were told it was a cramp. Chris Polk has hamstring injury. — John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) August 4, 2015
Its not only the running game that will be effected during Foster’s absence, but it is the offense as a whole. This offense leans heavily on Foster’s production. DeAndre Hopkins’ potential value for this season will likely be affected. Some may think, without Foster the passing game should have an increase in production. The opposite has been the case in previous seasons. In the last two season in games Foster missed, Deandre Hopkins production took a down tick across the board, according to Rotoviz statistics.
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The games that are In Split are games in which Foster played and the Out of Split games were the ones where Foster sat out. While the numbers aren’t a be all end all, it does give a glimpse into what may happen. I think Hopkins has improved and will be more productive than in past seasons without Foster, but the concern with offense as a whole is very real. I would probably downgrade him a round or so. Andre Johnson, Martavis Bryant and Jordan Matthews are all currently going after Hopkins at this point and are guys I would much rather own.
As for where I would be comfortable taking a gamble on Foster, it would depend on the draft. Round 8 or 9 is probably the point I would strongly consider it. That tends to be the round I will start to take a few fliers. While patience is key with Foster, the potential production for the fantasy playoffs would be worth the wait. As for his handcuff, I’m probably not reaching for any of them. Chris Polk has the talent to be interesting but without some idea of who will tote the rock in Houston, just grab the flier of your choice in the late rounds unless you have an over aggressive league mate who reaches. If they do, take the value they leave on the table.