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Aug 25

The great draft debate: should Foster still be the second RB off the board?

So your snake draft order comes down and you’re selecting first… life is handing you an easy decision and you grab Adrian Peterson.

Then the dream ends, you wake up, and a few seconds later when your draft order is actually released you’re second overall. The second overall pick may be the bane of the average drafter’s existence this year – if you draft in the middle of the first round a few of the hard decisions have already been made for you, if you draft late in the first round your biggest decision is if you’re going to go with Megatron or if you’re going to snag RB/RB… but second overall? Early in the summer it was a fairly simple decision, but now second overall poses one of the toughest questions that a drafter can be faced with in this year: should Foster still be the second RB off the board?

Arian Foster

versus

 Doug MartinJamaal CharlesC.J. Spiller

[Be sure to check out the QB and WR posts in this series]

First it should go without saying that you absolutely need to know your league’s scoring settings, because depending on if you’re playing a PPR league or not, or if your league has some wild scoring settings, then those things need to be considered and different names need to be contemplated for a variety of contextual reasons. We’re going to look at this though as if this is a straight-forward standard league.

Because Arian Foster...that's why. (Photo: Chris Buck)

Because Arian Foster…that’s why. (Photo: Chris Buck)

Once the golden-boy of fantasy drafts, Arian Foster‘s reign as the top RB on the board has come to an end following Adrian Peterson‘s amazing return from knee reconstruction last season. His drop down the draft board is predicated on Peterson’s amazing season of just under 2100 yards on the ground, his own slowly decreasing statistics, and nagging injuries. With that in mind however, it’s worth noting Foster has crossed the chalk for more touchdowns than any of the other options out there. With each touchdown worth as much as 60 total yards in terms of fantasy points, there is nothing you want more from a top pick than a guy who is going to amass yards and is a threat to run one in every game. Foster’s 15 on the ground last season equals out to nearly one per week, and when factoring in the couple he scored through the air he did average more than one score per week.

Foster’s total offensive yardage (receiving and rushing yards combined) has declined the past three seasons though, from 2220 to 1841 to 1628 yards, despite his touchdown numbers remaining mostly constant with 18, 12, and 17. While the decline in yardage is worth noting, earlier this offseason, we looked at part of the explanation for his decline in yards per carry average inside the Locker Room. With the addition of DeAndre Hopkins to the fray this year it could help pull another defender out of the box to deal with a reasonable receiving threat, although that receiving threat may also take a few of those touchdowns away from Arian. Foster was just recently removed from the PUP, and with your second overall pick it’s entirely possible that a guy who may face decreased touches and may deal with injury is just too much of a risk for you in the second overall spot that would so rightly be his with a clean bill of health. Still, Houston should remain a decidedly run first team – particularly in the red zone.

The most popular selection for those looking to shy away from Arian Foster in the second spot is sophomore

Doug Martin is a popular 2nd pick...but he's very hit or miss. (Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Doug Martin is a popular 2nd pick…but he’s very hit or miss. (Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Tampa Bay Running Back, Doug Martin. Martin exploded onto the scene last year, amassing a total of 1926 yard (including 43 more rushing yards than Foster [on less carries] and 255 more yards through the air). Although Martin benefits from a mostly unchanged system in Tampa Bay one of the big issues with his impressive rookie season are outlier games, which were addressed by LRFS writer Jon Collins, here. Martin posted five games where he ran for 56 yards or less, and four games where he amassed 66 total yards or fewer – although he coupled them with three multi-touchdown games, and two games where he racked up more than 200 yards. When the dust settles at the end of the year for Martin things might be comparable to other RBs in terms of yardage and scores,  however when looking at a week-in-week-out basis he’s much more likely to have a “strike-out” or “home run” game.

Jamaal Charles is another name being tossed around in circles as a possible second overall pick to replace the risky Foster, and he showed last year that he had recovered from his injury-ruined 2011 season and posted significant numbers both on the ground (1509 yards) and through the air (236 yards). In 2010, pre-injury, he also posted strong numbers on the ground (1467) and through the air (468), but the problem with Jamaal Charles is that he’s spent his career toiling away on the low-scoring Kansas City Chiefs. In 2010 he managed high of eight total TD, and following his return from injury last year he managed just six. Despite being a in an offense that likely suits him better (Andy Reid‘s West Coast style), and playing with what is likely a small upgrade at the QB position (Alex Smith), Charles still has a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned players in terms of point production.

C.J. Spiller will finally get a chance this year to show his stuff. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

C.J. Spiller will finally get a chance this year to show his stuff. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

The last reasonable candidate, Mister “getting-the-ball-until-he-pukes” himself, C.J. Spiller of the Buffalo Bills. With just 207 carries last year (almost double his career high), Spiller amassed 1244 yards (6.0 ypc) and six score, and tacked on an additional 459 yards and two TDs through the air – and he wasn’t even the lead dog all season.

The sky is the limit for this kid, and barring injury he may finally get to continue to impress us for a full season. With a new Head Coach, and a new starting Quarterback, it’s hard to say for sure that he’ll post similar numbers but he’s shown in limited action over the last few years that he is capable of that type of consistency. A boost in carries, and presumably a boost in catches, should lead to a significant gain in yardage and surely a gain in touchdowns; if Spiller does what many think he is capable of, this time next year I may be writing an article discussing who you take with the third pick instead of the second.

What are your thoughts? Are you going to risk your 2nd overall selection on Foster and his unclear health status, or do you think one of the others may offer a better return for your pick? Let us know in the comments below.

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