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After last year, can Foster still deliver the goods?

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  • By Jim Gigliotti Special to NFL.com
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Brett Davis / US Presswire
Arian Foster, fantasy football's biggest surprise last season, doesn't figure to be a one-hit wonder.


Will Arian Foster finish this season as a top-five fantasy running back?

Remember Steve Slaton, Ryan Moats and Chris Brown? They all had their shot at being the Texans' lead back in 2009 before coach Gary Kubiak finally turned to undrafted Arian Foster late in the season. In the Texans' final two games, Foster ran for 216 yards and three touchdowns, including 119 yards and two scores in a season-ending victory over the Patriots.

Turns out that Foster parlayed his little audition in 2009 into a starring role in 2010. Then he developed into fantasy's most valuable running back that year, when he led the NFL with 2,220 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns.

Maybe we should have all seen it coming after the strong finish to 2009. But that's easy to say in hindsight. Even the Texans gave no indication they knew what was on the horizon because they drafted running back Ben Tate in the second round in 2010. When Tate was injured in the first preseason game, savvy fantasy owners jumped on Foster.

Little should be different with Houston's offense in 2011. Most importantly, quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson are back to give the Texans a formidable passing game that will keep opponents from ganging up on Foster.

In fact, the biggest change is that Tate is back from his injury, and the Texans understandably want to know if he was worth the second-round investment. The club already has said that it wants to give Tate his carries to see what he can do. But the Texans also already have said that they have no intention of making Foster a part-time back in a committee. That means maybe Foster doesn't approach his 391 touches again, which probably is a good thing for the long term. Expect Foster's numbers to come back to the pack a bit, but remain among the best in the league.

Bottom Line: Arian Foster proved in 2010 that he's the real deal. Barring injury, he's a top-five fantasy back again in 2011.

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