Continuing on with our Fantasy Versus series, this time we’re matching up Arian Foster and Montee Ball. An aging workhorse coming off an injury riddled season and a disappointing sophomore thrust into arguable the most ideal position in all of football. Trust me, this one will be good. As always, we’ll discuss the case for and against each player which will ultimately lead to a final verdict. Let’s begin:
The Case For Arian Foster:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, anyone? The Texans are going to run the ball a lot this year simply because they have to. That means a lot of carries for Arian Foster, not that that’s a problem for him. Foster is the epitome of a workhorse running back in the NFL. A dying breed, but he’s still the NFL’s best current example of making one strong cut, turning your shoulders up field, and turning nothing into a big gain. He also doesn’t have Ben Tate breathing down his neck anymore as he’s moved on to Cleveland
The Case Against Arian Foster:
Workhorses only last for so long. Foster has averaged 371.7 touches from 2010 to 2012 and is coming off serious back surgery. It’s reported he is back to 100%, but there has to be concerns over how long his body can sustain this kind of production. Because of the aforementioned quarterback now manning the helm in Houston, I suspect defenses won’t respect the Texans passing game too much this year and will load up the box to stop Foster. So while he’ll get the bulk of the offensive load, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll have success.
The Case For Montee Ball:
Knowshon Moreno was the the fifth best fantasy running back last year. Let that sink in for a bit. I’m not trying to knock Moreno, I’m just saying that the only reason the guy won that starting job last year was because he was the only freaking running back in Denver who had any idea how to pass block. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t peg the guy who got a job by default as the fifth best running back in all of football. All those stats are Montee Ball’s this year. All the benefits of playing alongside Peyton Manning will be his — he’ll get a ton of catches, a ton of goal-line carries, and a whole lot of garbage-time touches. And you better believe there will be a lot of garbage time in Denver this year. On top of that stats-by-default argument I just made, Ball is also a more explosive back than Moreno is.
The Case Against Montee Ball:
He didn’t really show enough in his rookie season to make you think he’s worthy of a top-30 pick. The Broncos were basically begging him to win the starting job during the offseason last year, but didn’t do it. He was decent, if not spectacular during his limited playing time during the regular season, so there’s certainly questions about him entering 2014. Another thing working against Ball is that the offensive philosophy between Houston and Denver couldn’t be more different. Houston is a run-heavy team, this year more than ever. They use the run to set the tempo and set up the pass. Foster is the beneficiary of that. Denver just bombs the ball all day long. The purpose of a Bronco running back is primarily to watch Manning’s backside, not to run the ball.
Assuming he’s learned how to block for Peyton, Montee Ball should have a monster year. I’m taking him before Foster this year, who I just don’t trust. I think losing Schaub will hurt Houston a lot and Foster will have a really hard time getting anything going. He’s certainly not old, but he’s not young anymore either. Ball seems to have all the stars aligned for him this year. I think he takes control of that starting job and bursts onto the scene in a big way.
*Photo Credit – A.J. Guel via wiki commons.