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2011 Draft Prep: Foster will be the best again in '11

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Arian Foster doesn't play Fantasy Football, and he said "he's not into rankings." But the Texans running back is probably just being modest.

That's what happens when you're No. 1.

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Last year, Foster was the best running back in the NFL and in all Fantasy leagues, and he's looking for a repeat performance in 2011. We're here to say that Foster will be the No. 1 running back again this season, and he should be drafted first overall.

"As an athlete and a person, all you can ask for in life is an opportunity," Foster said in a recent phone interview. "If you work hard and you know what you can do then it's up to you to make the best of it."

That's what Foster did in 2010. He basically came out of nowhere to rush for 1,614 yards and 16 touchdowns and catch 66 passes for 604 yards and two touchdowns. He had 83 more Fantasy points than Adrian Peterson in standard leagues (309 to 226) and 93 more Fantasy points than LeSean McCoy in point per reception formats (375 to 282).

His goal this season is to remain consistent and not become a one-hit wonder. He doesn't plan to rest on his 2010 accomplishments and call himself a superstar.

"I haven't changed much," Foster said. "I worked out just as hard. I had the same approach in camp. I know what I have to do. You can't win the rushing title in one game. You can't rush for 1,000 yards on one carry. You just take it play by play."

One complaint I've received about Foster being ranked No. 1 overall ahead of Peterson is that he won't be able to duplicate his performance as the best running back in the NFL. That's a fair point, especially given the recent history for running backs, but the past 20 years suggest it's also possible Foster can remain on top.

If you look at the past three years, there have been three different No. 1 running backs at the end of the season in DeAngelo Williams (2008), Chris Johnson (2009) and Foster. But prior to that, there were four repeat champions as the No. 1 Fantasy rusher in Marshall Faulk (2000-01), Priest Holmes (2002-03), Shaun Alexander (2004-05) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2006-07).

Going back a decade, Barry Sanders (1990-91) and Emmitt Smith (1992-95) also had back-to-back years as the No. 1 running back, with Smith holding that spot four years in a row. Why can't Foster start that trend again?

Granted, the NFL today isn't like it was when Faulk, Holmes, Alexander, Tomlinson, Sanders and Smith were dominating carries. Foster can easily start to share touches with Ben Tate, who will return this season after being out for his rookie year in 2010 with an ankle injury. But coach Gary Kubiak indicated that Foster will remain the workhorse in this backfield.

"One thing about the running back position, when you have a great one, they need it 25 times," Kubiak said. "For the most part, when Arian's at his best, he's playing three snaps to the other guys' one."

If you look at last season when Derrick Ward was the No. 2 running back in Houston, Foster averaged 24 touches a game (20 carries and four catches), while Ward averaged just three carries a game. Assuming that Tate gets about five touches a game because he's more talented than Ward, that still leaves Foster looking at about 20-plus touches.

Opponents are also well aware of Foster's ability, and he knows that. He takes pride in proving people wrong.

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"You got the feeling early on in the (2010) season that nobody knew who I was," Foster said. "Our running game the previous year also wasn't respected. As the year went on, teams started to respect our running game. We're not going to struggle running the ball. It's something we take pride in."

Another concern with Foster is the loss of All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach, who is now in Baltimore. Foster said Leach will be missed, but he's not expecting the running game to fall apart.

He emphasized the ability of his offensive line, which remains intact from last season, and said that group is underrated. He might be right considering Pro Football Focus said following last year that "when all was said and done, the Texans were the only team whose entire offensive line graded positively."

Foster also has an amazing schedule this year against some of the worst run defenses in the NFL based on their finish in 2010. The Texans face the Colts, Jaguars and Titans twice, and all three teams were in the bottom 12 of run defenses last year. The same goes for Cleveland, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Oakland, which are all on the schedule.

Now, he will see good run defenses in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Miami and Atlanta -- all Top 10 teams in run defense last year -- but he had great outings last year against Top 10 run defenses in San Diego (31 Fantasy points), the Jets (23 Fantasy points) and Baltimore (12 Fantasy points). He won't back down from these tough opponents, and teams can't stack the line of scrimmage against him with Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels on his side.

For me, Foster has the most upside of any running back in the NFL, and it also helps that he's in a potential contract year. He is getting paid just $480,000, which is plenty of motivation.

Look, picking between Foster and Peterson is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. Both are great, and you'll be happy with whoever you get on Draft Day.

But I'm sticking with Foster. If he stays healthy he has the best chance to succeed, and he should end up as the first No. 1 running back to repeat since Tomlinson.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Bills move Corey Graham to safety
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:01 am ET) The Bills have moved cornerback Corey Graham to safety, the Buffalo News reports.

Graham said that he and the team have discussed the move all offseason and decided to give the position change a try on Tuesday when the team held its first workout of OTAs.

"He’s got that unique ability where he can do both things," coach Rex Ryan said. "So let’s see what we have out there. And this is no slam on Duke or on Rambo or on Meeks or any of those guys, but this is us doing what’s best for the team. And if that means we feel good about [Graham] playing safety, then that’s where he’ll be."

Graham is enthusiastic about playing the safety position full-time.

"I want to try to really learn it and see where it goes, see how much my grasp is, see how I’m playing at it, see where it can take me," he said. "I look forward to it. It’s a challenge for me, but I’m actually very excited about it."

Graham recorded 84 total tackles last season, his first in Buffalo, while intercepting two passes.


Vikings' Bridgewater 'extremely comfortable' with leadership role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is embracing his role as leader of the offense, the Star Tribune reports.

"I’m a young guy still on the team, but guys are pushing me forward to say something in the huddle, or break the team down, or break the offense down," Bridgewater said. "That just gives you that confidence in yourself, confidence in your leadership and I’ve been extremely comfortable doing that so far."

Coach Mike Zimmer is satsfied with the work Bridgewater has done during the offseason.

"It’s hard to never not be pleased with Teddy because he’s such a hard worker," Zimmer said. "We wanted him to get bigger and stronger; he looks a little bit bigger to me. He’s always worked real hard. The leadership things are starting to come better. I think he’s been doing a good job the two days we’ve been out here against the defense."

Bridgewater made 12 starts in his rookie season and played 13 games in all, racking up 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 64.4 percent of his passes.


Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders hoping to reach 1,000 yards
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders believes the new offensive scheme in Denver will effect his numbers, accoridng to the team's website.

Sanders is working with new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and coach Gary Kubiak to install the team's new offense and noted it's very different from last year's spread attack.

"You talk about going from a no-huddle offense to an offense that's huddling up, to an offense that is predicated off running a football and then throwing it. It's different," Sanders said. 

"It's a totally different set up, but I tell you what, the more and more I'm in it," said Sanders. "Because we can get the run game going and just use my vertical speed on cross routes and all these different combinations of routes is based off the play action, then I think the offense will be successful with Peyton Manning at the helm."

Sanders, who totaled 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014, doesn't think he'll accomplish the same numbers.

"Of course obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses, well I'm praying that it is, but obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses where you catch it and you're going to have two receivers catching over 100 passes," said Sanders. "Hopefully, my goal is really to try to get a 1,000 yards to just help this team win ball games."


Cowboys rookie La'el Collins taking reps at RT in OTAs
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Cowboys rookie offensive lineman La'el Collins started offseason team activities on Wednesday taking reps at right tackle, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Collins, who was signed as an undrafted free agent, could also see time at left guard. But the rookie is taking his first reps with the team at right tackle with Darrion Weems while Doug Free recovers from ankle surgery.

"We think he has the physical ability to play a couple of different spots," coach Jason Garrett said. "He was a tackle for most of his career in college but did play guard. We see him as a guy who can maybe do both of those things as he goes.

"The big thing for him is to try to get him acclimated as quickly as we can. So right now he's going to play right tackle for us. He and Darrion Weems are competing at that spot in Doug Free's absence and we'll just see how that unfolds." 


Vikings' Adrian Peterson on absence from OTAs: 'It's business'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said in a statement on Wednesday that his absence from OTAs has "nothing to do with wanting to be traded," ESPN reports.

"The reason I'm not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It's about securing my future with the Vikings. It's business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings."

It was reported earlier Wednesday that coach Mike Zimmer said that Peterson could "either play for us or not play." The running back has expressed frustration with team management for not showing him support during his legal case for child abuse.


Report: Falcons' Dezmen Southward undergoes knee surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Falcons defensive backs Dezmen Southward underwent a minor-knee operation Wednesday, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Southward did not attend Tuesday's OTA and it is not known how long he'll be sidelined.


Julius Thomas trying to fit into Jaguars' offense
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas said after Wednesday's organized team activity that he intends to make it work with quarterback Blake Bortles, reports The Florida Times-Union.

"There is no 'Here's me coming in, and Blake's going to get on my page.' I'm going to be on Blake's page," Thomas said. "Whatever he expects, that's what I am going to do. He's the quarterback. He's the one in control of that huddle, and I like catching passes so I will make sure I do exactly what he wants."

With Thomas entering his first season with the Jaguars, he said it will take time to develop a rapport with Bortles.

"I think that getting good chemistry with a quarterback probably takes a couple of thousand passes," Thomas said.


Cowboys RB Darren McFadden not concerned with playing time
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) With the Cowboys just beginning their organized team activities this week, running back Darren McFadden said he just wants to concentrate on becoming familiar with the team, reports the team's official website.

"For me, I'm just going out there grinding," he said. "However the coaches put me out there – whether it's first team or second team. When it comes time for them to make a decision, it's totally up to them. I'm just trying to get that playbook down and take advantage of this opportunity."

McFadden is competing with Joseph Randle to be the first-team running back, and he said he just wants to work hard and not worry about how many repetitions he's receiving with the first team.

"Once you've been in a place so long like Oakland, you can get set in your ways," McFadden said Wednesday, after his second OTA practice with the Cowboys. "Coming out here and being around guys that work so hard, it just brings out the best in you. It's something I look forward to."


Chiefs' Mike Catapano on his health: I feel better than ever
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) After missing the entire 2014 season with a gastrointestinal virus, Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano was able to participate in the team's OTA on Wednesday, reports The Kansas City Star.

"Every time I step on the field now it's with purpose and with extra vigor that I never really had," Catapano said. "It feels great. I feel better than ever."

Catapano played in 15 games during his rookie season in 2013 and he totaled four tackles and one sack. He said he's ready to surpass that in 2015.

"I'm ready to show that I offer a lot to this team. I'm ready to step up in big situations and starting situations," Catapano said. "I just want to keep getting better every day… and play to the best of my abilities."


Broncos' Manning, Sanders keeping up with Thomas during holdout
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is holding out of offseason workouts while he continues to negotiate a long-term deal with the team, but teammates Emmanuel Sanders and Peyton Manning have been keeping up with the star receiver, the Denver Post reports.

"One thing a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re playing on a one-year deal, there’s a lot of things going through your head," Sanders said. "As much as you guys want to say, ‘Don’t think about it,' of course it’s going to cross your mind because you’re talking about a lot of money at stake. When you’re playing these one-year deals, it’s a lot of stress on you. No matter how much you don’t want it to be, it’s going to happen. We’re all human."

Manning would like to have Thomas in workouts but understands the business aspects of his decision.

"I keep up with Demaryius. He’s my buddy," Manning said. "They got that business side of it to work out, but he’s been a great teammate to me, been a great friend to me since I’ve been here in Denver, so I keep up with him. Obviously want him to get back here as soon as possible, but we want what’s best for him, and he certainly deserves what’s best for him."

Thomas has started 16 games for three straight season, topping 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in each.


 
 
 
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