Former Fantasy Studs - Chance For Greatness Again?
By Geoff Freamo
Arian Foster and Ray Rice were consensus first round picks in 2013. Their poor showings cost a lot of fantasy owners big time, undoubtedly many of them missing the playoffs. This season however, their expectations have had the floor dropped out from under them, with Foster being drafted at the end of the third round and Rice lasting all the way until Round 6. Both of these backs have shown the ability to dominate in the past, but which would you rather have this year? Is there any value left for these two? Let’s take a look at each to see who has the best chance to deliver this season.
Ray Rice has had a rather eventful year. Not only is he coming into the season with an expected committee approach to the Ravens backfield, but he also is dealing with the fallout of the domestic violence incident with his wife. This will likely result in a suspension for the first few weeks of the season. Are there any positives left for Rice? Why is he even being drafted as early as he is? It's expected that the offense won’t struggle as much as it did last year. Dennis Pitta is healthy again, and the addition of Steve Smith should return to the Ravens much of what was lost with the departure of Anquan Boldin. The offensive line was an issue last season, and as of right now doesn’t look much stronger.
Now let’s take a look at Foster. We all know the story. Undrafted out of Tennessee, signed as a free agent by Houston, monster 2010 season. We also know about his injury history, but he’s seemingly healthy after offseason back surgery. The opportunity for Foster is there this season with Ben Tate’s departure to Cleveland. New Texans coach Bill O’Brien has already stated that he thinks Foster will have a heavy workload.
Here's how their schedules play out.
Baltimore Ravens Schedule
Houston Texans Schedule
Opponent /2013 Def. Rank vs. RB
Opponent /2013 Def. Rank vs. RB
|Wk 1 Cincinnati/3rd||Wk 1 Washington/28th|
|Wk 2 Pittsburgh/20th||Wk 2 Oakland/27th|
|Wk 3 Cleveland/16th||Wk 3 NY Giants/14th|
|Wk 4 Carolina/2nd||Wk 4 Buffalo/15th|
|Wk 5 Indianapolis/13th||Wk 5 Dallas/32nd|
|Wk 6 Tampa Bay/6th||Wk 6 Indianapolis/13th|
|Wk 7 Atlanta/22nd||Wk 7 Pittsburgh/20th|
|Wk 8 Cincinnati/3rd||Wk 8 Tennessee/29th|
|Wk 9 Pittsburgh/20th||Wk 9 Philadelphia/11th|
|Wk 10 Tennessee/29th||Wk 10 Cleveland/16th|
|Wk 11 New Orleans/10th||Wk 11 Cincinnati/3rd|
|Wk 12 San Diego/12th||Wk 12 Tennessee/29th|
|Wk 13 Miami/21st||Wk 13 Jacksonville/23rd|
|Wk 14 Jacksonville/23rd||Wk 14 Indianapolis/13th|
|Wk 15 Houston/19th||Wk 15 Baltimore/7th|
|Wk 16 Cleveland/16th||Wk 16 Jacksonville/23rd|
The story is that Rice should expect to miss 2-4 weeks with the suspension, which is a bit of a blessing since he will miss both the Bengals and Steelers for certain, and possibly also the Panthers. That leaves what should be some decent matchups towards the latter half of the season. As long as he gets the opportunity, Rice should be able to produce. Just don’t expect a rebound as there are much better options, with more upside, to be taking at that position. As for Foster, with 10 matchups against teams in the bottom third of the league from a season ago, he should be in line for some huge games at pivotal times for his owners. It’s likely that Foster will be one of the most sought after trade targets throughout the season. With a steady defense, and better QB play than a season ago (see: not Matt Schaub), look for him to have a season comparable to his best ever. At his current ADP, Foster will end up being a steal.