Before we can reach Jones-Drew we’re going to have to go through a few more players. The next person on my list, behind only Adrian Peterson, who unfortunately also wears a Texans' jersey on Sundays is Arian Foster. These two are the consensus top two picks in almost every league. Foster has only done it for one season but there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be able to be dominant again this year.
The last and only other time an undrafted player burst onto the scene unexpectedly to lead the league in rushing was back in 2001. That year this player ran for 1555 yards and 8 touchdowns and then followed it up the next year by having an even better season of 1615 yards and 21 touchdowns. This player’s name was Priest Holmes.
Now their careers did develop differently. Holmes had a few years in Baltimore where he was used regularly before his breakout year in Kansas City while Foster only had 54 rushing attempts in his only other year. I’m only trying to use him as an example as to not automatically dismiss Foster’s 2010 season as a flash in the pan. He was hands down the best back in the league last year. In a standard Yahoo! league he had 95 more points than the next closest running back. This year he very well could be the best again just like Holmes was in his follow up campaign.
One possibility that I could see take away some of Foster’s value is Ben Tate. After initially trading down in the second round, the Texans ended up trading back up in last year’s draft to the 58th pick to take him. This shows to me that they saw, and presumably still do, see a lot of promise in him. Most envisioned him becoming their number one guy last year before he broke his ankle in the first preseason game. He is also the highest drafted running back ever taken by the Texans’ and they are going to want to see what they have in him. Here’s what new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison had to say about Tate and the Texan’s running back situation.
"We’re going to give him the ball a few times and see how he does. We’re looking at it as he ended up with a redshirt year. He still has the ability that we liked to get him in the second round. We’ll take some turns. Obviously, Arian’s our number one guy, and then we’ll go from there."
Obviously he’s not going to replace Foster as the number one option but last year Foster’s only threat to carries was Derrick Ward. Foster ended up having the third most rushing attempts in the league. The Texan’s also trailed only Steven Jackson and the Rams in the difference between their number one and two back’s rushing attempts. I expect that gap to lessen a bit this year with a healthy Tate, as well as a re-signed Ward, to spell Foster.
The only reason that I place Peterson ahead of Foster is that Peterson has done it before. If Foster is able to lead the league in rushing yards and touchdowns again this year, he will almost unanimously be considered the number one pick for next year but for this year he has to be number two.