Only a little worried. You know that feeling when you’re driving away from the grocery store and you’re not sure if you bought orange juice with pulp, no pulp, or lots of pulp? Yeah, that kind of worried. Also, pulp is the worst.
Paint me as a crazed overreacting crazy man if you want, although I’m very much trying to sidestep the ledge dwelling here. I consider myself to be a rational, sane-minded human, except as it relates to orange juice. But I still think that after there was an even split between Arian Foster and Justin Forsett in Houston’s backfield during their win over Tennessee yesterday, you — the Foster owners — need to acknowledge your fear.
Embrace it, and be one with it.
Both Foster and Forsett received 14 carries apiece during the Texans’ 24-10 win. Forsett did more with his touches, gaining 64 yards on the ground, while Foster finished with only 38. It was his lowest rushing total since his 29 yards in Week 6 against the Packers, although Foster still retained fantasy value with his touchdown and his 15 receiving yards, giving him 10 fantasy points.
It was only Foster’s fourth game this year with less than 90 rushing yards, and it came in a game that reflected a steep decline in usage for a running back who was averaging 24.5 carries per game prior to this week. Even with yesterday’s minimal workload, Foster still easily leads the league in carries, as his 283 carries are 33 ahead of Marshawn Lynch. That’s significant pounding for a player at an easily combustible position, so you see where this math is headed.
Rest, more rest, and then your entire fantasy team will rest until next August after your first-round pick — and most likely first overall pick — isn’t available as the playoffs begin this week in many leagues.
Again, that fear shouldn’t be too deep quite yet, but it could grow quickly. The scoreboard was a major factor in the time share yesterday, with the Texans up 21-3 at halftime, dominating an easy and favorable matchup. But a more significant factor was the curse of the 400-carry pace.
Prior to Week 12 the Texans were flirting with giving their stud running back 400 carries, a mark that head coach Gary Kubiak had said he’s cool with earlier this year when Foster was on pace for 412 carries, which would have been the second most in league history. It’s also a mark that usually leads to running backs being dragged into a woodshed, and then they’re given a soothing death needle.
Now after just one week and one game with a decreased workload, Foster’s carry pace has sunk to 348, which is only 21 more carries than his total in 2011. Disaster averted, yes? Maybe, but then there’s the matter of the standings.
Kubiak has already shown a quite understandable and justifiable willingness to rest his best playmaker when the opportunity presents itself. With the Texans at 11-1 and leading both their division and conference, there’s a simple and very plausible scenario that could be initiated this week, and it could easily end in a reduced workload for Foster during the fantasy playoffs:
1. The Texans beat the Patriots Monday night. Not easy
2. The Colts lose to the Titans. Also not easy, but Indianapolis won by less than a touchdown the first time these two teams played this year in Week 8 (19-13).
If steps one and two are complete, the Texans would then clinch the AFC South and a first-round bye, further minimizing the importance of their remaining games. The reaching there isn’t far, but if you’re into that, there’s another still somewhat possible scenario in which the Texans could earn home-field advantage this week. I’ll let the Battle Red Blog supply that distant dot connecting:
In Week 14, the Houston Texans can clinch the AFC’s number one seed and home-field advantage if…
Oakland beats Denver on Thursday night AND Washington beats Baltimore on Sunday AND Tennessee beats Indianapolis on Sunday AND the Texans beat New England on Monday night.
In this scenario, Denver and Baltimore, both currently 9-3, would have four losses and could, at worst/best, tie the 12-win Texans. However, Houston would hold head-to-head tiebreakers over both and get the nod for home-field advantage.
See, it’s simple really.
Here’s all you really need to know for your Foster worries: regardless of the other outcomes, the Texans very much control their own destiny, and therefore they also control Foster’s destiny, and your destiny. That’s what 11 wins will do for you, and with two more wins the Texans will clinch home-field advantage, potentially making weeks 16 and 17 completely irrelevant. Those weeks carry some degree of importance in the fantasy community. You know them as the championship weeks.
Combine that with the demonstrated desire to limit Foster and keep him fresh for the playoffs — you know, the real playoffs — and I think you know what to do Monday night during the Texans-Patriots game.
GO PATS GO! MARRY ME TOM BRADY!