LANZILLA: Foster’s Injury Highlights Training Camp News
Fantasy Football Corner

Last week I woke up to an urgent text from one of my best friends from high school. He is an investment banker in New York this summer, so naturally he was awake at the wonderful hour of 5 a.m. checking the news. My phone flashed and I saw his text: “Breaking News!” This startled me awake, of course, until I read his follow-up text: “Arian Foster is having surgery for a groin injury!” To some, this might sound like a terrible excuse to wake up a friend of yours at an ungodly hour, but my friend knew better. For fantasy football players, Foster’s injury and its repercussions were the main topics of the day.

As the summer winds down and we students try to soak up the last days of sunshine on the beach, professional football players are gearing up for the start of their years, too. Organized team activities and training camps have come and gone and the preseason is upon us. The fantasy landscape remains largely unchanged, but there have been some significant developments that fantasy owners should consider as we transition from the dog days of summer.

The most important news, of course, is that Arian Foster suffered a groin injury that required surgery and will cost him the beginning of the season. Some estimates have the Texans assigning him the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return tag, which would mean the earliest he would see the field would be Week 10. By then, your fantasy roster will have likely assumed its fate. So what does this mean? Foster immediately drops from a first-round player to nothing more than a late-round flier who could prove fruitful in the playoffs if he remained healthy. Keep tabs on his situation, though, because if the Texans hold off placing the IR tag on him he could have a chance to return earlier and be a key contributor to your squad.

Alfred Blue is the likeliest candidate to fill the void Foster has created and grab the lion’s share of carries. That said, he registers only as a low-end RB2. He has a starting running back job, but it was more Foster’s rare ability than Houston’s surrounding offensive picture that made him so attractive to fantasy owners. Blue lacks the experience (he is only a second-year player), skill and past production for any owner to get too excited about. Grab him if you decide to focus on other positions early on and are looking for a RB2 with upside, but be aware that Blue’s grasp on the starting role is not too strong and Houston could elect to go with a running-back-by-committee approach.

In some non-Foster-related news, it is always interesting to survey the players who have been accumulating the most buzz during camp. Todd Gurley of the St. Louis Rams is a name that immediately jumps out. Although St. Louis Head Coach Jeff Fisher said Gurley will probably not play in the preseason, reports have been hopeful that the first-year Georgia product will take the league by storm when he is finally unleashed. Other key developments are the reduction of Pittsburgh Steeler Le’Veon Bell’s suspension from three to two games, making him a justifiable first overall pick, and the upholding of New England Patriot Tom Brady’s four game suspension. He remains a low-tier QB1 as long as you can find a capable backup.

A rundown of other camp highlights: Amari Cooper is forming a potent relationship with Derek Carr and could be the first Oakland Raiders receiver in years worth getting excited over; Brandon Marshall appears to have burgeoning chemistry with Geno Smith in New York; Baltimore Raven Steve Smith announced he is retiring after this year so prepare for him to go out with a bang; Brian Quick of the Rams is healthy again and looking to build off an impressive, although injury-shortened, 2014 campaign; and Austin-Seferian Jenkins of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been getting compared to Tony Gonzalez. Yes, the future Hall of Fame tight-end Tony Gonzalez. Go ahead and target ASJ in keeper leagues.

Until next time, fantasy lovers, play on.

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Joe Lanzilla is a rising senior in the School of Foreign Service. Fantasy Football Corner appears every other Tuesday.

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