By now, everyone with a fantasy football team knows the name of Houston Texan running back Arian Foster.
Tennessee Volunteer (and other SEC) fans knew his name long before his staggering 231 yard, 3 touchdown performance against the Colts in Week One -- second behind only O.J. Simpson (250 yards in 1973) in the history of the NFL for a season-opening performance.
After all, for all of the talk of Foster onto the scene for the Texans, he was hardly an unknown coming from out of Tennessee. Foster left the Vols second on their career rushing list with 2,964 yards -- more than Jamal Lewis, Charlie Garner, Cedric Houston and Montario Hardesty. Only Travis Henry, with 3,078 yards, was more successful over his career than Foster.
I -- and more importantly NFL scouts were quite high on Foster early in his career. In fact, he was given a second round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee following his junior season.
Entering the 2009 season, in fact, I characterized him among the elite prospects in the SEC and wrote:
"A standout as a freshman, Foster rebounded from a disappointing sophomore year to enjoy his greatest success to date last season, earning Second Team SEC honors with 1,193 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Only 684 yards behind Travis Henry to be Tennessee's career rushing leader, Foster briefly considered leaving early for the NFL and was given a second-round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee. A strong senior campaign could push Foster to the top of the senior running back class."
Rather than enjoy a "strong senior campaign," however, Foster struggled mightily, fumbling often and losing carries to Hardesty (among others).
Foster initially intrigued me as a strong one-cut runner. Though his stock took a major tumble in 2009, I was nonetheless surprised to see him slip all the way out of the draft. Considering Houston's zone-blocking scheme, Foster was an ideal fit.
I recommended him as a potential late round pick for the Seattle Seahawks -- another team that features a zone-blocking scheme up front.
It will be interesting to see if the struggles with ball security that plagued Foster's late career at Tennessee will again show up with the Texans. Though I believe Foster is very much a starting caliber running back in the NFL in a zone-blocking scheme, don't be surprised if he's never able to match his spectacular Week One performance.
There will be few defenses he'll face this season smaller up front than the Colts. Certainly the Washington Redskins -- Houston's opponent Sunday -- should provide a significantly tougher matchups than the Colts were last weekend.