Taking Arian Foster first overall seems to be the smart pick for 2012, but what does the Fantasy Football history of the No. 1 pick suggest? Considering the No. 1 pick in Fantasy Football is more important than in any other Fantasy sport, you have to take this situation seriously!
There are very few things that give a man complete happiness, if only for a moment:
- First bite into a perfect slice of pizza.
- [explicit] [explicit] [explicit], especially when she [explicit] [explicit].
- Getting the first pick in his upcoming Fantasy Football draft.
If you have the top pick, then Foster is likely perched on your lips, ready to be yelled out on Draft Day. In the past few years, Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson have held the crown, but Peterson is coming off a knee injury and Johnson has to shake off a horrible 2011 season.
Foster was the consensus No. 2 pick in MyFantasyLeague.com drafts last season, but he’s the No. 1 pick this offseason so far. And when I did the Average RB Rankings for several sites, they all had Foster ranked No. 1 overall.
After looking at the likely No. 1 Fantasy Football draft picks dating back to 1971, I came up with a few conclusions. These lessons learned should help us decide if we should spend a pick on Foster first.
7 Reasons to Take Arian Foster First Overall
There are several reasons why you SHOULD take Foster with your top pick:
1. The average age of a running back in his first season as a No. 1 overall Fantasy pick has been 25.23. The average age of a running back in his final season as the No. 1 pick, has been 26.76. That’s an average span of 1.53 years, which is down about a full year from the late ‘00s. Foster is 26 right now, and will turn 27 in September, so he’s definitely in the wheelhouse.
2. With Peterson working his way back from injury and Johnson hoping for a rebound year, there aren’t many options for the top pick.
3. Ray Rice scored the most Fantasy points at the position last season, but even so, his 297-point total was still just the second-lowest mark for an RB leader since 1996. (Michael Turner had 276 points in 2008.)
4. Foster averaged 142 total yards per game last regular season, and he scored 12 touchdowns in 13 games.
5. Foster has just 786 total NFL touches, which means he has a ton of mileage left.
6. Only the Broncos rushed the ball more last season – and a lot of those runs were by QB Tim Tebow (122 carries). Denver and Houston rushed the ball 546 times in 2011, about 10-percent more than any other team.
7. While Ben Tate certainly poses a huge threat to Foster’s touches, the latter is a better receiver out of the backfield, which makes him more valuable than Tate on passing downs.
8 Reasons NOT to Take Arian Foster First Overall
There are also a few reasons why you SHOULDN’T take Foster with your top pick:
1. Over the past 10 years, the No. 2 pick has outscored the No. 1 pick in Fantasy Football six times. That means you’re better off trading down a pick and getting better value.
2. Remember that even the Texans didn’t have much faith in Foster, who went undrafted out of Tennessee three years ago. Houston drafted Tate in 2010, only to be forced to use Foster when Tate blew out his knee. Tate is two years removed from that injury, and he averaged 5.4 yards per rushing attempt last season, compared to Foster’s 4.4.
3. The Texans’ offensive line was one of the best last season, no doubt. But their entire right side of that line is new for 2012, with G Matt Brisiel (Raiders) and T Eric Winston (Chiefs) elsewhere. Zone-blocking schemes, like Houston’s, need time to gel.
4. Not since 2008, when LaDainian Tomlinson’s reign as Fantasy king came to a close, has a player been the No. 1 overall pick in back-to-back years. Foster was arguably the top pick in many drafts last year, but can he be the top pick again?
5. Foster got a very nice raise this offseason. We’ll have to wait and see if it affects him like it seemed to affect Titans RB Chris Johnson.
6. Hamstring and knee problems slowed Foster in 2011. We’ll see if it becomes a regular thing in 2012.
7. The Texans passing attack took a big step back in 2011. After being the fourth-best passing offense in the NFL in 2010, Houston was just the 18th-best passing offense in 2011, with Matt Schaub having a down year. The air attack should rebound this season, scoring more through the air than on the ground.
8. Foster shares time with Tate, while Rice, LeSean McCoy and Maurice Jones-Drew are their team’s primary ball carriers. Foster’s carries accounted for 51 percent of the Texans’ total rushing attempts (16th in the league). Rice’s 63 percent ranked him seventh, and McCoy’s 61 percent ranked him eighth. But no NFL team relied on one running back more than the Jaguars. Of Jacksonville’s 489 rushes, Jones-Drew took the rock 343 times, or 70 percent of the time.
No matter what decision you make with that very first pick of your Fantasy Football draft, it’s bound to be one you’ll question all the way up to Week 1. Sometimes, the best move is to trade down one pick, pick up a higher pick in other rounds, and let someone else make your decision for you.
If not, I think there’s more evidence to make me pick Ray Rice over Arian Foster first overall. But I’m definitely in the minority, and I would definitely try to trade down.
- Fantasy Football First Overall Picks, 1971-2012
- 2012 Average Draft Position Comparisons to History
- Major Sites’ Top 5 Fantasy Football Rankings
- Top 12 Fantasy Football Rookies for 2012
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.