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Latest groin injury ruins Arian Foster's fantasy value

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UPDATE: NFL Media's Rand Getlin first reported that free agent Pierre Thomas is traveling to workout with the Texans, and NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport later added that the team hopes to sign the former Saint if all is well.

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History repeats itself. Time is a flat circle. Call it what you want, but fantasy enthusiasts (and the Houston Texans faithful) received some terrible news on Tuesday morning when they learned that star running back Arian Foster suffered a groin injury that will require surgery and sideline him for several months. That makes Foster a likely candidate for the IR/designated to return list, which would shelve him until deep in the regular season.

This is truly saddening news. Foster is one of the most electric and consistent running backs in the game when he is healthy. The veteran running back scored more fantasy points than Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy last season, despite playing in three fewer games. He's a joy to watch on the football field, and was locked in as the centerpiece of Bill O'Brien's Texans offense.

This unfortunate development begs the question: What happens now? Well, the Texans are ill-equipped at the moment to replace Foster. Here's a peek at their running back depth chart sans Foster:


1. Alfred Blue
2. Jonathan Grimes
3. Chris Polk

Blue would figure to take over the reins in the interim, but he was an uninspiring fill-in for Foster last year. He did average 4.3 yards per carry in the three games Foster missed, but didn't find the end zone in that span, only caught four passes, and much of his production came in his 36-carry, 156-yard outburst against the Browns. Grimes is talented, but remains a journeyman who has only performed in spot work thus far in his career and seems to be ticketed for a passing-down type role. Polk, who has a total of 57 NFL carries to his name, was cut by the Eagles and signed by the Texans in the offseason. Fantasy owners may remember him as a touchdown vulture stealing scores from LeSean McCoy last season, but he could be the name to watch from this backfield after showing flashes in Philly (like this 102-yard kickoff return).

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The Houston Chronicle's John McClain confirmed that Foster will indeed need surgery on Tuesday, torpedoing his fantasy value for the immediate future. Foster isn't done for the season, though, as McClain adds that Foster should return in season. Foster has been dogged by groin injuries for much of his career, missing 11 games over the past two seasons due to injuries (some stemming from his groin). The IR/designated to return list would force Foster to sit until Week 6, when he could start practicing, though he couldn't be activated for a game until after Week 8. With the Texans having their bye in Week 9, that renders Foster a non-fantasy entity for almost the entire fantasy regular season (his first eligible game would be Week 10). If you're in a deeper league, you could roster him and try to work around having one less bench spot, but Foster will be better off left on the waiver wire in most formats. Owners would be savvy to monitor his progress and potentially pick him up around Week 6, though, if his health is improving.

As for what to do with the rest of this motley crew of running backs, definitely do not overreach on any of these guys in the short-term. A late-round flier, sure. But until we see this battle shake out in the rest of training camp and the preseason, it would be unwise to invest heavily in Blue, Grimes or Polk. Let's not forget that there are veterans still available as free agents if the Texans need to look outside of their own facility for help. That list includes Ahmad Bradshaw, Pierre Thomas, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson.

Looking at the rest of the Texans fantasy roster, rising star wideout DeAndre Hopkins could see an even bigger share of the team's targets with Foster missing significant time. He was already firmly on the WR2 radar, but his stock could see an uptick as the team's only proven, game-changing player on offense. That being said, with the quarterback position still unsettled and the No. 2 WR spot up for grabs, Hopkins would also be the only truly draftable asset in Houston.

For now, we're still in a wait and see pattern as to how to proceed with Foster on the sideline. This just became one of the key positional battles to watch during the preseason, and we won't know who takes the lead in the backfield until we see Blue, Polk and Grimes in game action. Stay tuned.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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