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D.J. Foster could produce in the right offense

Leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, each day NFL Fantasy will profile a prospect who could make a splash in fantasy next season. Today's subject is former Arizona State wide receiver D.J. Foster.

There will be a day, in the not-too-distant future, where football people get together and say things like, "I can't believe Arizona State didn't win more with Jalen Strong and D.J. Foster." Similarly to the way we bemoan how Louisiana State wasted the college careers of Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Jeremy Hill and Freddy Blue. Like, it doesn't seem to make sense.

Obviously, a lot of it has to do with the offenses these teams run. Or in the case of Arizona State, there was the obvious lack of defense being played by the Sun Devils. And the mediocrity of Mike Brecovici, probably the most disappointing ASU quarterback since Steve Campbell or Ryan Kealy.

But I really like what Foster can do in the NFL because he made a pretty good transition from running back to wide receiver. Maybe not statistically, but it's pretty good for his overall game.

I was immediately drawn to Foster because he wore Terry Battle's old number for the Sun Devils. And it got me thinking about that historic team with Jake Plummer, J.R. Redmond, Pat Tillman, Keith Poole and the rest of that great squad. Seriously, I know the Devils lost to a pretty good Buckeyes team in the Rose Bowl. And I'll forever say those two teams were the best in college football that season, no matter what anybody down in Gainesville would like to tell you. But the Devils were pretty dope. And if ol' Jake had about another 30 seconds, we would be talking about a national championship team.

But before I get too far down memory lane, let's take a deeper look at what Battle, I mean Foster, will be able to offer on the NFL level.


Foster is a pretty exceptional runner (obviously), but he really wanted to be more than a pass-catching running back so he made the switch to wide receiver. He has the lateral quicks, and great moves in the open field. And for a guy who played just one season as a receiver, he really did a great job on adjusting to a lot of bad balls. Which seems to be the only kind Bercovici knows how to throw. (Last cheap shot on Berco, who seems like a pretty great dude, actually. He did stick it out with the team and did have a nice season statistically. Campbell and Kealy were bigger disappointments. So from this point forward, I will start to direct my ire towards Todd Graham and his wristbands.)

One of my favorite plays of his came when a Stanford guy thought he had the angle on him and Foster just blew right by him. He's going to be one of those guys who can line up in the slot and really make the right decision when he needs to get with the ball.


He spent just one year as a receiver, and because of that, he needs to pick up some nuances of the position. You can't put him on the line of scrimmage or else he's going to get bullied by the defenders on the other side. But he does have great hands.

He's not super-fast, either. I really want to believe that he is faster than his combine scores indicated, though he was much faster at his Pro Day. As I've said, I have seen him motor past people. But he's not going to be confused with guys like John Brown, nor will he beat him in a foot race.

I think it will be important to note here Foster had fewer receiving yards as a wide receiver during his senior year than he had as a running back previously. Which is to be expected. I put some of that on the mess that is the Arizona State football program. And honestly, how are the Sun Devils so mediocre year after year? Have you been to that campus? It's gorgeous. The facilities are pretty good, too. Phoenix is a pretty cool metropolis. I just don't get how this football program doesn't get into the conversation as one of the tops in the Pac 12. This will never make sense to me. Never. And now look, one of the dudes who failed with this program is going to be running the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Good luck with all of that. All though this probably means Graham will be the Falcons coach some day or some nonsense like that.

Ideal fantasy fits

The team that drafts Foster (which can be anywhere from the middle to the late rounds) really needs to have a plan on how to use him. So in other words, don't draft him, Los Angeles Rams. He'd be awful with an old-school coach like Jeff Fisher who would have no idea what to do with him. Just check out how they have squandered Tavon Austin.

But ideally, you'd like to see Foster play for a team like the Patriots, partly because of the success Bill Belichick has had with players like Foster. And yeah, that also reminds us that Redmond played a huge part in the Patriots' first Super Bowl win; a stunner over the heavily favored St. Louis Football Club. But this could work, too, because the Patriots have very specific needs for players and there is a history of the Patriots taking receivers who played other positions in college. All right, I'm just thinking of Julian Edelman here, but I could see the Patriots doing something very fun with Foster.

Pittsburgh also seems like a fun little fit. The Steelers tried to make Dri Archer a thing, but I believe Foster is a much better football player.

Early fantasy draft projection

There are a number of great places Foster could land. So it stands to reason he'll end up with the Chiefs. And he'll be one of those dudes who seems like he could have breakout potential any season now, but just can't quite put it all together. You know the guys, they are constantly added to the "sleeper" list prior to every season and they have a few games where they really come alive that leads you to believe "this is it!" which forces you to add them off the waiver wire and you put them in your lineup one week only to do nothing, so you leave them on the bench for a few weeks before you finally drop them. And when you finally drop him, he goes out and has three touchdowns against the Chargers to really make you feel terrible about the whole process. He's going to be that type of player.

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Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

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