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Fantasy Football: Arian Foster hamstring tear or tweak?


Is there a more popular right hamstring in the world right now than that of Houston Texans running back Arian Foster?

Let's do a quick Google search...

Safe to say Foster, and the fate of his hamstring, means a lot more to people this time of year than the hamstring injuries of Indianapolis Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez, Texas Rangers players Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre or that of Northern Ireland striker Jamie Ward.

No, we are talking American football here. And with American football comes fantasy football.

Foster, undrafted in many leagues last year as he raced to the top of the pack in running back points, is far from a free-agent pickup this year. Just a year later, the Texans running back is the top-ranked player on many fantasy draft boards — Athlon Sports included. That's why his now twice injured hamstring during the month of August has fantasy owners worried.

He has gone from nobody knowing who he is to everyone wondering about how he is. Of course, Foster would probably argue that people are wondering more about how he is at pertains to themselves and the future of their fantasy football leagues much more than they are about his actual health and well being as a person. You need only see his Twitter pout from earlier in the week about people being sick.

Of course that Tweet ignited a spark and now he is back on Twitter fending off the negative energy and announcing to all that will read that he will be fine, even sending out an X-ray picture of his hamstring.

Then ESPN gets an opinion from Dr. Michael Kaplan, saying he believe it's a hamstring tear.

What? What? What?

Foster. Tear. Fantasy Football. No. 1 pick. One of these things is not like the others.

Tear doesn't make fantasy football players feel reassured. Tear drops you from the No. 1 pick to, well, not all the way back to free agent pick up, but somewhere in the "he's a good value there range."

This is not like the Chris Johnson contract situation. Most believe Johnson would miss a game at most. If Johnson misses a week or two, so be it, he's still CJ2K and his 11 weeks of regular season fantasy football are going to be better than 13 weeks for many others.

The issue with Foster is this: It's hard to believe if you come into the season unhealthy that the grind of an NFL season is going to allow you to get better without missing games. And don't count on the Texans' bye week to give you a little reprieve as they have the last one — all the way in Week 11.

So what do you do?

If it's a tweak, I am still drafting him high.

If it's a tear, and reports are he may miss the first three weeks, meaning a return against Pittsburgh — you know the team that hardly ever allows big rushing performances — he drops, big time.

So that's basically missing him for four games. A quarter of the season would be lost. Of course in fantasy terms, that's four of 13 regular season weeks. If that's the case, he becomes about the 14th best back in my opinion — in the range of Shonn Greene, Mark Ingram and LeGarrette Blount.

One thing Foster may have going for him if he were to rest and give it time to heal is that even if you take a quarter of his production away from last season, he is still the best running back in fantasy football by 5.2 points. But few were expecting him to repeat his numbers from 2010. He didn't have to because he'd still be the best without them.

Certainly keep an eye on the situation and hope for tweak, but if you hear tear be prepared to run ... and then get great value for him in the third round.

In the meantime, Derrick Ward is the current No. 2 RB on the Texans' roster with Ben Tate, the fantasy favorite, listed third. Coach Gary Kubiak apprenticed under Mike Shanahan, and we all know how frustrating it can be to try and peg which Shanahan back is going to succeed (one only need look at this year with Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain, Roy Helu, Keiland Williams and Evan Royster). So the dreaded RBBC could be in the Texans' future, but for now, cross your fingers and select Tate.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter