Texans star RB Arian Foster was back on the injury report this week. He was forced to miss practice time with a tweaked hamstring. Foster returned to action today in full pads. The 28-year-old back spent most of last season on the injury report. He dealt with a plethora of injuries and eventually succumbed to season-ending back surgery. He technically played in eight games, however it was more like six games. In his final two games of the season he totaled a mere four touches. He gave it a go but just couldn’t overcome his physical limitations. On a positive note, Foster did average 4.5 YPC last season (his highest average since 2010). On the other hand, his lack of TDs (2) is alarming. Foster is a perennial double-digit TD guy.During Fosters absence this week, rookie Alfred Blue emerged as a hard and intelligent runner. Unfortunately, he really struggled in pass protection. Blue looks like he could emerge as Foster’s handcuff.
Andre Johnson was also sidelined with a hammy this week. Unlike Foster, Johnson has not yet been able to return to action. With the exception of 2011, in which he played only seven games, the former Miami Hurricane has had at least 80 catches and 1,200 yards every season since 2008. Johnson has been the model of consistency throughout his NFL career, nevertheless there are a large number of red flags surrounding him this season. He is 33 years old and has missed just about all of camp after a lengthy holdout. The veteran still needs to learn Bill O’Brien’s system and form chemistry with new QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The hamstring is just the latest issue on a long list. All these issues should lead you to one conclusion. The time is now for sophomore WR DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins is poised for a breakout season. He will look to build off of his rookie campaign, in which he managed 52 receptions, 802 yard and two TDs. His 85.40 ADP makes him a steal. He’s being drafted as WR4 and has WR2 potential. Everything is falling in to place for Hopkins to be a breakout player of the year candidate.
Promising young RB Vick Ballard ruptured his Achilles tendon and will most likely miss the entire season. This means more opportunity for Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw. Richardson, who has been absent from camp with an ailing hamstring, has given Bradshaw an opportunity to take first team reps. Bradshaw has taken full advantage. He has looked fantastic after returning from neck surgery. Bradshaw has a current ADP of 200.99. He is a steal that late in the draft. In three games last season, the former Giant averaged 4.5 YPC. His season ended with a great game against a tough 49ers defense. He totaled 111 yards and a TD. This was a more prolific fantasy performance than Richardson had in any of his 16 games last year. Yet T-Rich is being drafted with an ADP of 62.34. Bradshaw is a much better value pick and would be a better pick if he went a round before Richardson. He is the RB to own in Indy (barring injury).
Even if Richardson improves off his horrendous 2013 performance, it won’t be enough. He was historically bad last season. His 2.9 YPC in 14 games ranked 46 out of 48 qualifying RBs. It was the worst performance from a Colts RB (100 carry minimum) since 1992. In his career (two seasons), he’s only averaging 3.3 YPC, and he’s yet to manage 1,000 yards. Stay far away from Richardson! In related news, the Colts signed RBs Phillip Tanner and Davin Meggett this week.
The Colts pass-catchers have been banged up this week. T.Y. Hilton left the field in visible pain holding his left hand today (June 30). Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen also sat out as a precaution. This allowed rookie Donte Moncrief to take reps with the starters.
Jags RB Jordan Todman has emerged as the frontrunner for the backup job to Toby Gerhart. He has stood out from a pack of lackluster RBs and could end up second in line for touches. He may also play a role in the passing game. The Jags WR corps is a mess to say the least. Justin Blackmon was arrested again last week on possession charges. He was already suspended for the season. Second-year WR Ace Sanders was also suspended four games. His suspension stems from a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. He was expected to start the season as the Jags top slot receiver. After Blackmon, Cecil Shorts is the Jags WR1. He will be sidelined several weeks with a serious hamstring injury. This leaves second-round picks Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee to start. Both have impressed thus far and should be climbing up draft boards. Robinson is the guy to own. He is far more polished and could make an immediate impact as a rookie. TE Marcedes Lewis may not be fantasy relevant, but it is worth noting he has had the best offseason of his career. His backup Clay Harbor will miss at least the next month with a calf injury.
There is little to no news or updates to report out of Tennessee. Jake Locker is still the No. 1 QB on the depth chart. Bishop Sankey is expected to be the RB1, with Dexter McCluster mixed in the passing game and Shonn Greene being utilized for short-yardage. The Titans defense is transitioning from a 3-4 system to a 4-3. We hope to have more updates out of Titans camp very soon.