Don’s DDNTL: Arian Foster

The Arian Nation is collapsing
Photo Credit: AJ Guel


Death, taxes and injured fantasy stars – these are some of life’s certainties.  


Make no mistake about it, injuries WILL play a major role in fantasy football this year, and the more you know, the better your odds are of hoisting that virtual trophy. That’s where I come in. It’s time for the 2013 Don’s Do-Not-Trust List © (DDNTL): Fantasy Football Draft Edition. As a licensed and practicing physical therapist with years of experience treating a wide spectrum of sports related injuries (and a fantasy obsessed lunatic like the rest of you), I have the skills to steer you in the right direction. 


I’ll be discussing a number of players with injury concerns and whether or not I “trust” them to provide draft day value. To be clear: just because a player makes my list does not necessarily mean he’s not worth drafting; in fact, in some cases you can get great discounts if you pick your spots carefully. Any ADP data is courtesy of  While I’ll be covering a lot of players here, if there’s anyone I missed that you want to hear about, feel free to leave a comment or email me at and I’ll help a brother (or sister) out. 


More after the jump:


It’s becoming more and more popular to rag on Arian Foster coming into this year’s drafts but the concern is warranted. Foster has seen more carries than any other RB over the last three years and actually led the league in rushing attempts last season. Foster runs with great patience and decisiveness, making him an ideal fit skill for the zone blocking scheme the Texans run. He’s also proven to be a very capable receiver out of the backfield, making him worth the first round price tag in standard and PPR formats the last few seasons. With the run-first philosophy and excellent offensive line in Houston, Foster has turned the heavy workload into some big seasons. Unfortunately, there are red flags aplenty here as that heavy workload appears to be wearing Foster down, making him a prime candidate for Don’s Do Not Trust List.


Foster has a history of battling nagging muscle pulls both last season and in camp. Earlier this summer, Foster was dealing with a calf strain that lingered into the start of training camp. It was then revealed that Foster was not only dealing with the calf injury but also had back pain. The lingering soreness in both areas has led Foster to be placed on the active/PUP list for training camp, and as of this writing Foster has yet to return to practice (and hasn’t done so since May).  


In the latest report out of Houston Foster’s back pain has not improved, with symptoms now radiating to his legs, and he’s required injections to help clear it up. The fact that Foster’s pain has begun to spread to his legs is especially concerning. There’s a principle in rehabilitation of spine pain known as Centralization, which refers to a patient’s pain becoming more “centralized” to the spine as opposed to the lower extremities. When spine pain centralizes, it’s a sign that things are improving. In Foster’s case, symptoms are radiating to his legs, indicating his condition has actually worsened. There are nerves in our lumbar spine (low back) that supply the legs, and for Foster to be experiencing leg pain related to his back indicates there’s a nerve being pinched. What is causing this “pinching” and how severe it is varies greatly and could be caused by simple inflammation, protruding or herniated discs (shock absorbing pads between our spine bones), tight muscle bands where the nerve travels, or even arthritic changes. As I mentioned with Rob Gronkowski, back pain is tricky to manage because treatments are often hit-or-miss. Injections do not “cure” any condition; they are simply performed to alleviate symptoms. If the injections reduce Foster’s pain levels, he’ll better tolerate rehab and will see his return to the field hastened. His symptoms could just as easily return or perhaps not improve at all. The lack of practice time also means Foster isn’t in “football shape” yet either, making him more prone to injury.  


Foster has seen his yards-per-carry decline multiple years in a row, and that was before the recent calf and back troubles. He also has one of the best backup RB’s in the league in Ben Tate backing him up, making it unlikely the Texans will risk rushing Foster back too soon. There are even some rumblings that Foster may not be ready for the start of the season. Foster is a top five fantasy pick on most people’s draft boards, but certainly not mine. In fact, I’m so leery of him he’s not in my top 12, falling outside the first round in most leagues. I understand his workload, environment and track record make him an enticing option, but his health question marks are frightening and there’s no way I sink an early round pick with that kind of risk. If you draft Foster this season you absolutely MUST draft Tate, and frankly, I’d avoid Foster entirely.


About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.