Aug 3, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) talks to running back Ben Tate (44) during training camp at Methodist Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Fantasy Football Mailbag: 8/21/2012


Need help with preparing for your fantasy football league? The Fantasy Guru is here once again to give you a few tips on how to play the crazy game of fantasy football.

Another week of preseason games and we are now that much closer to the NFL season. To help you guys as much as I can, I’ll now be doing a mailbag every week on top of other fantasy posts to try and keep on top of the questions you guys are sending in. I have five emails to answer today so let’s get right to it.

Q: In your rankings you have my favorite running backs ranked low. Why so down on Arian Foster and Ray Rice? – Ravjit Singh from Mumbai, India

A: I’m actually writing about Rice this week so I’ll focus on Foster who I have ranked fifth. I’ll admit – I came very close to dropping him below both Chris Johnson and Tom Brady as I have genuine concern that Foster will not live up to standard. I have three main points of concern with Foster: injury risk, returning players and Ben Tate.

I remember last year seeing Arian Foster pull up lame early in the year and the result was that many fantasy players were selling him relatively cheaply. While Foster did come back and post good numbers, he did have injury issues throughout the year and I wonder if this is only the beginning as we have seen with some backs. Then there is the fact that you have both Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson returning from injury. I do expect the Texans to remain the running team they have become, the presence of Schaub and AJ could bring the team towards a more balanced attack. Then there is Ben Tate who stormed onto the NFL scene last year in Foster’s absence and cemented his place on the team and forcing Houston to employ a far more even timeshare.

Here’s a few facts for you – last season Arian Foster had only seven games of 20 or more carries and overall didn’t play three games. Of the games he did play, Foster had seven games with less than 4 yards per carry and six of those games were under 3.5 yards per carry. Perhaps the most disturbing stat however is the fumbles – in his final five games, Foster had five fumbles with three of them lost and then had a bad fumble in the second playoff game. This trend continues into this year’s preseason as we saw Foster lose a fumble in the game against Carolina the other night.

Foster is ranked fifth but if this were any other year I’d rank him much lower. Luckily for Foster, he is the recipient of this year’s lack of rushing depth.

Q: Here’s a quick one – who’s your favorite player that you didn’t rank and why? – Linc Mastironi from New Brunswick, New Jersey

A: It may be a quick question but it’s a tough one. If I had to name just one it’d probably be rookie Alshon Jeffery. In the past I’ve always been slightly cautious of these flashy rookie wide receivers as they rarely shine in their first year but Jeffery has looked pretty good in camp with his big body and has shown good hands while being able to make spectacular aerial catches using all of his 6 foot 3 frame and 36 1/2 inch vertical leap. Jeffery is worth a late flier in most leagues but you should still wait and see before deploying him.

Q: Yesterday I saw an article you wrote about the Chiefs offense. Should I be investing in Matt Cassel? – Jon Bridges from Bridgeport, Connecticut

A: In my report yesterday, I did have some pretty glowing remarks about Cassel who has looked very good this preseason and has in the past shown the ability to be a borderline fantasy starter. The problem with this is that there are a bunch of quarterbacks out there in the lower rounds who are capable of much the same thing. Now previously Cassel has been in that group of quarterbacks you shouldn’t draft and I believe you can now take him out of that group and into the backup tier with names like Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Alex Smith. Aside from that it really is personal preference. Don’t reach for Cassel but if you don’t have a backup quarterback by the time you reach that 130+ range then he should definitely be on your radar.

Q: 12 team league, 4 keepers, $250 budget. I am keeping Cam Newton for $8, Wes Welker for $22 and Victor Cruz for $1. With my remaining keeper slot I want to hold onto a running back. Should I go Stevan Ridley for $5, Shonn Greene for $14 or reinvest in a big name by keeping Chris Johnson for $52? – Kevin Johnson from Long Island, New York.

A: First off, forget Shonn Greene – I don’t buy into him at all and with that Jets offensive line starting to look really bad there’s a sense that the bubble has burst on that situation.

The other two is a very interesting discussion because while Ridley is cheap and should give you good production, it is a reality that if you go into the draft with your elite lead running back locked up you are automatically in good shape. The problem with that is that it has also committed a good chunk of your budget also which can give you a disadvantage if other owners have cheap keepers.

Personally I’d roll the dice and lock up Chris Johnson while you can – you just never know what can happen in an auction and with the prices the top running backs could go for you may end up having your lead back at a high but reasonable price.

Q: Jake Locker and Ryan Tannehill have won the starting QB job for their teams. If you were writing rankings today, would either make your top 150? – Hayden Smith from College Station, Texas.

A: I’m going to frank here – Ryan Tannehill is not an NFL quarterback in my eyes. Not yet anyway. Back before the NFL draft, I made it very clear that I was opposed to any team drafting him in the top 10 and that hasn’t changed. Don’t go near him because I believe he’s headed for disaster.

Jake Locker is a quarterback I do like quite a bit but he has some maturing to do as well. He’ll be surrounded by a good running game and a very solid offensive line so things should be relatively comfortable for him despite not having much of a receiving corps. He’s another of these quarterbacks in that 15-22 range that I wouldn’t reach for but is definitely worth a look late in drafts. Just be aware that his accuracy issues will be there for a while yet but if he sorts that out midseason you might just get a nice reward later on.

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That’s it for this week. As always you can send your questions to [email protected] and I’ll answer more of them in next week’s fantasy mailbag. Also, keep an eye out later this week for my piece on Ray Rice – just be wary that it won’t be a fantasy specific report but there’ll be plenty of good information all the same.

Until next week, this is the Fantasy Guru signing off.

Tags: Alshon Jeffery Arian Foster Chris Johnson Fantasy Fantasy Football Fantasy Football Mailbag Featured Jake Locker Matt Cassel Popular Ray Rice Ryan Tannehill Shonn Greene Stevan Ridley