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I’ve been talking about this since last season and I’m sure no doubt you’ve heard about it plenty this off-season as well.  Arian Foster went over the 400 touch mark in 2012, finishing the playoffs with 460 total on the season.  Now there are great achievements you want your running backs to unlock over the course of the season.  You love it when they clear 1000 yards rushing.  It’s great when they clear the 10 touchdown total as well.  But joining the Misfortune 400 List isn’t exactly something to strive for as history can attest to.  Consider this a pre-draft warning that Foster is going to carry a lot more risk in 2013 than many will assume.  To find out what I mean by this, pretend I’m the ghost of fantasy football season’s yet to come and you’re Ebenezer Scrooge as we journey into what the future might hold for Arian for 2013 fantasy football…but wait, there’s more!  But not about Arian, this is about Facebook.  In particular the Razzball Facebook page.  For many years, we couldn’t stand each other.  We just HAD to have a different Facebook page for each sport and we were spreading the love thin.  Well, now you can go to one place on the Facebook interwebs to get your Razzball lovin cuz like a human centipede, we’ve merged into one!  That exclamation was for excitement not sarcasm!  Ok a little sarcasm but mostly excitement!  So if you could, mosey on over to that Razzball Facebook link and caress it, hold it, love it, and lick the screen.  After all that, all we really wanted was a ‘Like’ from you and a ‘follow’ if you’re in the mood for such things.  We don’t ask much…ok, we will ask for one more thing.  You see that big mural of how we’ll work for fantasy sports?  Yeah, like that too.  Maybe if you’re lucky, we’ll even let you poke us…woah, we meant on Facebook!  Ok, now on with the fantasy sports…

First off, let’s put Foster’s 2012 season in perspective.  For all the superlatives we can say about him, the underlying stats say his output was more a production of quantity than it was quality.  Over 405 carries from the regular season to the playoffs, Foster averaged about 4.1 yards per carry.  Out of qualifying running backs, that average put him tied for 20th best with DeMarco Murray and Steven Jackson.  Of course, this in and of itself isn’t damning evidence against him as Trent Richardson finished 38th with a 3.6 YPC average.  Ok, so why do I bring that up you ask?  To answer that, we need to listen to our inner Niall Ferguson and get historical.  Will I have to remember who created the printing press?  Woah, too historical!  No, let’s just focus on running backs who’ve had over 400 touches in the past and the seasons that followed them, shall we?  Ok, let’s start with an old friend that I referenced when my fears about this started cropping up in 2012, Larry Johnson.  Larry might nowadays be known more for his rap sheet than his stat sheet but once upon a time, he was a fantasy football darling as he had back to back 1,700 yard rushing seasons from 2005-2006.  That 2006 season came with a heavy load as he touched the ball 475 times that year, 429 of which were on the ground for a 4.2 YPC average.  Hrm, those numbers sound familiar…eerily familiar.  But more to the point, what happened to him in 2007 you ask?  Well, death happened, at least from a fantasy football perspective.  Larry only played 8 games in that season and only averaged 3.5 yards per carry to boot.  In terms of both real and fantasy football, Larry was never right again after that season.  Now before you say ‘small sample size’ since I only mentioned one player, realize there are plenty of others who saw a reduction in production following a 400+ touch season.  During that same 2006 season, LaDanian Thomlinson also eclipsed the 400 touch plateau.  Now the reason no one talks about his reduction in performance is that it wasn’t as drastic by comparison.  In fact, he thumbed his nose at the bad omen and cleared the 400 touch mark again in 2007 for good measure.  But here’s LT’s YPC from 2006 to 2008: 5.2, 4.7, and 3.8.  So with these two historical references in mind, what should we come to expect from Arian Foster in 2013?  Well, I expect something in between these two examples.  I’m not expecting collapse but I’m really not expecting sustained value.  I see a pull back from Arian this coming season and with the risk associated with the workload, I’m going to have a hard time drafting Foster where he’s most likely to go in drafts.  As is my life motto: wipe front to back, not back to front.  Hrm, that’s not the motto I was looking for.  Instead, let’s go with this one: the position of RB carries enough risk, don’t do something that adds to it.

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  1. pd says:
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    Interesting take sir I was actually having same thoughts as you. Ive been in keeper league for many years have never been afraid to let a player go a year too early vs too late. I’ve had Foster since his rookie year and now also have TRich and Murray. I can only keep two of the three. Would you trade foster over these other two RBs? I agree with your assessment of his season last year. Is Arians risk and perceived pull back even more next year enough to roll with other two options in 2013 instead? Thanks.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      TRich is a definite. If Foster stays healthy all season, he’s still a better option than Murray. I’d roll Foster and TRich there.

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