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2013 Draft Prep: The year after for AP, Arian

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson are two of the best Fantasy running backs in the game today. They might be two of the best all-time.

Last year, Peterson and Foster were the top two running backs in standard Fantasy leagues, in that order. They have finished back-to-back at the top of the rankings twice since 2010, which was Foster's breakout season. Foster was No. 1 that year.

This year, however, both superstars are facing questions after their performance in 2012. Peterson, who became the seventh running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards, is being asked if he can do it again. And Fantasy owners want to know if Foster can hold up after an immense workload last season.

This tale of two elite running backs is important to Fantasy owners, especially with Foster, because a bad pick in the first round could ruin your season. We'll find out soon enough when the season begins if Peterson was worth taking at No. 1 overall, and if Foster should have even remained a first-round pick.

Here is a look at what to expect for Peterson and Foster in 2013 based on what transpired last season.

The history of 2,000-yard rushers

Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson said he "watched a little bit" last season as Peterson came within 9 yards of breaking his single-season rushing record set in 1984. Dickerson said "he'd by lying" if he didn't want his mark of 2,105 rushing yards to remain the best forever.

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"When he got so close, I had to watch some of it," Dickerson said in an interview with CBSSports.com. "But it was good. It's always good when somebody gets close, but not break. Close, but not break. ... I asked him, 'You want that record don't you?' He said yeah, you know I want it. But it was good for the league, it was good for me, it was good for him. He's a great player, a great guy and I hope he gets close again -- without breaking it."

Dickerson knows first-hand the struggles Peterson will face this year in trying to replicate his performance. Peterson was amazing in 2012 when he racked up 2,097 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns while hauling in another score through the air with 40 catches for 217 yards.

He enters this season as the consensus No. 1 Fantasy running back and No. 1 overall pick in all leagues. But just as Fantasy owners are gunning for Peterson at the top of the draft, so are opposing defenses on the field.

"Now that he got so close, the defense is going to really be after him," Dickerson said. "They're going to really scheme for him."

Dickerson said Peterson could again challenge for the record this season, but it will be tough. His six predecessors in the 2,000-yard club -- O.J. Simpson (1973), Dickerson, Barry Sanders (1997), Terrell Davis (1998), Jamal Lewis (2003) and Chris Johnson (2009) -- all saw a decline in production the following year.

Not that all six were bad. Only Davis, who tore his ACL in 1999, failed to reach 1,000 rushing yards again, and Dickerson and Johnson each had double digits in touchdowns the next season. But Sanders had the best year post-2,000 yards -- and he was still over 500 rushing yards short of reaching the milestone again at 1,491.

"It's extremely tough," Sanders said in an interview with CBSSports.com in 2010 talking about 2,000-yard rushers. "But I think certain players thrive on those types of challenges."

The average for the six running backs prior to Peterson the year they ran for 2,000 yards was 2,040 yards and 14 touchdowns. The following season, if you take out Davis since he had just 67 carries, the average for the other five running backs drops to 1,244 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. At that rate of decline, Peterson is looking at 1,301 yards and six touchdowns this year.

Now, we're not saying that's what Peterson will do. Keep in mind he became No. 2 in the record books after coming back from a torn ACL just nine months prior to the start of last season. He's accustomed to defying odds and is up to the challenge of getting 2,000 yards again.

"Obviously, the first goal is to win a championship," Peterson said to USA Today this offseason. "I would sacrifice 1,000 yards rushing to win a Super Bowl. But I want to be the first back to have back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons."

I have Peterson projected for 1,644 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he's ranked No. 1. He should continue to be dominant. But don't expect him to run for 2,000 yards again. History tells us that it won't happen – even as great as Peterson is.

The 2,000-yard club
Player (Age) Year of 2,000 Carries Yards TDs Next year Carries Yards TDs
O.J. Simpson (26) 1973 332 2,003 12 1974 270 1,125 3
Eric Dickerson (24) 1984 379 2,105 14 1985 292 1,234 12
Barry Sanders (29) 1997 335 2,053 11 1998 343 1,491 4
Terrell Davis (26) 1998 392 2,008 21 1999 67 211 2
Jamal Lewis (24) 2003 387 2,066 14 2004 235 1,006 7
Chris Johnson (24) 2009 358 2,006 14 2010 316 1,364 11
Adrian Peterson (27) 2012 348 2,097 12 2013 ??? ??? ???

The Curse of 370

We all want workhorse running backs as Fantasy owners in an age when more teams are going toward tandems and the dreaded running back by committee. But sometimes that workload becomes too much even for the best rushers, and unfortunately it leads to a breakdown. That could be where Foster is headed.

In 2012, Foster led all running backs with 351 carries in the regular season. Factor in the playoffs, and he had 405 carries. Add on his 55 catches through the postseason and you're talking about 460 total touches. No wonder he's already banged up.

Foster missed the start of training camp with a calf injury and then a back problem. He was just activated off the physically unable to perform list Wednesday, but he's not expected to see any preseason action to keep him fresh. He maintains that he'll be fine for Week 1 and isn't worried about his workload from last year.

"The thing about that is, when you're a scat back, the knock on you is you can't carry the load," Foster told the Houston media Wednesday. "When you're a workhorse, it's you're getting too many carries. People just find things to talk about. I stopped listening. So, sure, the workload's big. I don't really care man. Whatever."

The workload isn't just big, it's worrisome for several reasons. Foster leads the NFL over the past three seasons with an average of 372 touches a year, and his yards per carry has declined each year over that span from 4.9 in 2010 to 4.1 last season. He also had a career-low 5.4 yards per catch last season, suggesting that maybe his big-play potential is waning.

Along with that, the Texans have another running back in Ben Tate who they trust to handle a significant workload to keep Foster fresh. The Texans want Foster healthy for the playoffs, and using Tate in tandem is the best way to make that happen. It's not what Fantasy owners want to hear, but the Texans have Super Bowl aspirations and need Foster to get there.

"When you have a guy who is going to carry the ball that much, you do have to have a plan for him," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said in an interview with CBSSports.com this offseason. "How you protect him during the practice week, how you go about doing things. We've been able to figure that out. Obviously, we're going to play a second guy a little bit and give him a break.

"It's something you're always looking at, but he is a player who gets better with reps and carries. There was a point in the season last year where he was carrying it too much, and those things work themselves out. You look at the end of the year, and I think we were fine. It's something you're always thinking about, watching, paying attention to. But at the same time we have a player who plays his best the more he carries it, so we want to do what he does best."

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But are the Texans giving Foster too much? History tells us that running backs who carry the ball as much as Foster did last season suffer the following year. In 2004, Football Outsiders came up with the "Curse of 370," which shows that running backs who carry the ball at least 370 times tend to struggle or get hurt the next season. The wear and tear just catches up to them.

In looking back at the last 25 years, there were 31 times a running back hit that mark, including the postseason, which doesn't include Foster and even Peterson from 2012 (he had exactly 370 with the playoffs). Of those 31, 25 suffered a decline in production the following year, and Ricky Williams retired in part due to two years in a row of a heavy workload in Miami. There were also 11 who had significant injuries, including four who suffered a torn ACL and two with a broken foot.

Now, we're not predicting a Foster injury. We're also not saying to avoid him as a first-round pick. In that offense, Foster is a beast, and if he plays 16 games he will wind up as a Top 10 running back.

But there's a risk involved with him this year, and he should not be drafted as a Top 5 overall pick. I'd rather have Peterson, C.J. Spiller, Jamaal Charles, Doug Martin, LeSean McCoy, Trent Richardson, Marshawn Lynch and Ray Rice at running back, and Calvin Johnson is also a safer pick in the first round. All those players have just as much upside as Foster with slightly less downside. Move Foster down your draft board toward the bottom of the first round.

You also should consider Tate a sleeper in case something happens to Foster because, like Foster, if Tate got an extended look in this offense he could post quality stats. In part to Foster missing three games in 2011 with a hamstring injury, Tate finished that season with more than 1,000 total yards and four touchdowns.

In an ideal Fantasy world, Peterson and Foster will again finish as the top two running backs. We'd love nothing more than to see that happen. But it's unlikely, and it's something you should be prepared for coming into the year.

The Curse of 370
Player (Age) Year of 370 Carries Yards TDs Next year Carries Yards TDs
Playoff carries were not included in the year after a running back reached 370 carries to reflect their performance in the regular season only (* playoff carries included).
Eric Dickerson (28) 1988 388 1,659 14 1989 314 1,311 7
Christian Okoye (28) 1989 370 1,480 12 1990 245 805 7
Emmitt Smith (22) 1991* 406 1,748 13 1992 373 1,713 18
Emmitt Smith (23) 1992* 444 2,049 21 1993 283 1,486 9
Barry Foster (24) 1992* 410 1,794 11 1993 177 711 8
Thurman Thomas (27) 1993* 418 1,582 11 1994 287 1,093 7
Emmitt Smith (25) 1994* 395 1,602 24 1995 377 1,773 25
Emmitt Smith (26) 1995* 451 2,071 31 1996 327 1,204 12
Jerome Bettis (25) 1997* 423 1,837 8 1998 316 1,185 3
Curtis Martin (25) 1998* 418 1,425 8 1999 367 1,464 5
Terrell Davis (26) 1998* 470 2,476 24 1999 67 211 2
Jamal Anderson (26) 1998* 480 2,122 14 1999 19 59 0
Edgerrin James (21) 1999* 389 1,609 13 2000 387 1,709 13
Edgerrin James (22) 2000* 408 1,816 13 2001 151 662 3
Eddie George (27) 2000* 430 1,600 15 2001 315 939 5
LaDainian Tomlinson (23) 2002 372 1,683 14 2003 313 1,645 13
Ricky Williams (25) 2002 383 1,853 16 2003 392 1,372 9
Jamal Lewis (24) 2003* 401 2,101 14 2004 235 1,006 7
Ricky Williams (26) 2003 392 1,372 9 2004 -- -- --
Ahman Green (26) 2003* 403 2,105 17 2004 259 1,163 7
Curtis Martin (31) 2004* 408 1,840 12 2005 220 735 5
Clinton Portis (24) 2005* 385 1,610 12 2006 127 523 7
Tiki Barber (30) 2005* 370 1,901 9 2006 327 1,662 5
Edgerrin James (27) 2005* 373 1,662 14 2006 337 1,159 6
Shaun Alexander (28) 2005* 430 2,116 29 2006 252 896 7
LaDainian Tomlinson (27) 2006* 371 1,938 30 2007 315 1,474 15
Larry Johnson (27) 2006* 429 1,821 17 2007 158 559 3
Adrian Peterson (23) 2008* 383 1,843 12 2009 314 1,383 18
Thomas Jones (31) 2009* 376 1,519 15 2010 245 896 6
Michael Turner (26) 2008* 394 1,741 18 2009 178 871 10
Rashard Mendenhall (23) 2010* 385 1,503 17 2011 228 928 9
Adrian Peterson (27) 2012* 370 2,196 12 2013 ??? ??? ???
Arian Foster (26) 2012* 406 1,654 17 2013 ??? ??? ???

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 .

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Player News
Nick Foles: 'I plan on being in Philly' in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:48 pm ET) There has been a lot of talk about quarterback Nick Foles' future with the Eagles, especially since Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly's former pupil at Oregon -- Marcus Mariota -- will be part of this year's draft class.

On Thursday, Foles addressed the rumors and stated he is expecting to be back on the Eagles' roster in 2015.

"Yeah you hear about it," Foles said in between doing paid appearances at Super Bowl XLIX, per NJ.com. "You are going to hear about it every single year. That's just part of it. The main word is 'rumor.' You can't put too much into it....I plan on being in Philly.

"I only listen to (head coach) Chip Kelly. That's what is most important. He is the one that will make the decision. Right now all I am going to do is work because I plan on being back in Philadelphia and playing with my team. That's all I ever thought. So that is what I plan on doing and I'm not looking at it any other way."

Foles added he hasn't talked with Kelly since the end of the season.

"We haven't talked a lot. He has a lot going on," Foles said. "This time of year you really just get away from everything. He is busy looking at the draft, doing all that. I saw he is more of the decision maker. Haven't really talked to him too much, but I'm sure I'll hear from him soon."


Dwyer pleads guilty, receives probation in domestic violence case
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:38 pm ET) Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer pleaded guilty Thursday in Maricopa County (Ariz.) Superior Court to a single count of disorderly conduct pertaining to his domestic violence case, according to The Arizona Republic.

Dwyer was sentenced to 18 months of probation and community service following the plea, according to a court spokesman.

The 25-year-old Dwyer was arrested Sept. 17 for a July 21 incident in which he allegedly headbutted his wife in the face and broke her nose after she refused his sexual advances and bit his lip, according to reports taken at the time.

Dwyer's wife told police she reported the incident in September because she feared for their child's safety after seeing reports of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's arrest on child-abuse charges.

The Cardinals placed Dwyer on the reserve/non-football injury list after his September arrest. He did not play again during the 2014 season.


Tom Brady on Peyton Manning: 'I certainly hope he comes back'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:21 pm ET) While the football world anxiously awaits official word from Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning about his playing status for the 2015 season, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- and longtime Manning rival -- said Thursday he hopes the five-time NFL MVP will continue his career.

"What a great player he's been for this league," Brady said Thursday, per NFL.com. "He's a great competitor, and I've been fortunate to play against him a bunch of times. I certainly hope he comes back, 'cause the league will miss him if he doesn't. But those decisions are up to him. I'm sure it's up to whether he's mentally and physically -- that's what he wants to do. But I certainly hope he's back."

Archie Manning, Peyton's father, told NFL Network on Thursday that his son hasn't made a decision yet.

"Well, Peyton evaluates things; he's pretty good at that," he said. "I can't tell him what to do, and he hasn't told me what he's going to do. But I do know that he's really giving a lot of things a lot of thought. He's thinking about where he is physically, he wants to see how he can do this some more, trying to get over an injury."

Archie added starting over with new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak will not be an issue for Peyton, if he decides to return next season.

"Yeah, but he loves Gary. He likes Gary," Archie Manning said. "He liked John Fox. He liked Adam Gase. All those things, I think, are considered with. But my deal is he's always made good decisions; he's pretty thorough. He's going to evaluate a lot of things, and I think he'll make a good decision."


RG3: 'I could've sat out the rest of last year' after hurting ankle
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:04 pm ET) During a radio interview Wednesday night, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III indicated the dislocated ankle he suffered in Week 2 against the Jaguars hindered him the rest of the season. He missed six games due to the injury.

“I had never suffered an ankle injury of that severity before, so I didn’t really know what to expect,” Griffin said, per The Washington Times. “It just became more and more tough the more games that we lost, because you know how hard your guys work, and you want to get out there and help them win games.

“I could’ve sat out the rest of last year, with how bad the ankle was, but I felt like I could play, and I wanted to get out there and play with my guys and help them win games. And that didn’t happen when I got back out there. Then coach made a decision [to bench me]. That was an unfortunate decision, and something we all had to go with because that was coach’s choice.”

Griffin will be entering the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2015. The Redskins have until May 3 to decide if they want to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract for 2016. 

Griffin added his focus this offseason will simply be on getting healthy.

“Last year, I wasn’t healthy, and it sucked,” Griffin told ESPN 980. “There’s no other way to say it other than that. When you dislocate your ankle in the second week of the season, when you and your team had big things in mind. So I guess it’s just getting healthy, getting a mental break, getting a chance to spend time with family, and then formulate my plan going forward from this year so we can go out there and win games.”


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by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:21 am ET) Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was on The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday talking about his thought process heading into free agency. Murray obviously said all the right things about wanting to return to Dallas, and hoping the team can sign him and Dez Bryant, who will also be a free agent, to long-term contracts.

However, Murray was also very forthcoming about the notion of playing for another NFL team.

“Yeah. I understand the business aspect of it,” he said, per The Dallas Morning News. “There’s no hard feelings if we can’t reach a deal together. But hopefully we can and we’ll see what happens.”

Murray, who rushed for a career-best 1,845 yards in 2014, will likely sign the most-lucrative contract of his career this offseason. But he added money won't be the only factor in who he signs with.

“I don’t think about [the one big contract], I’m thinking about winning a Super Bowl,” Murray said. “What’s best for me to win a Super Bowl and win one now. At the end of the day, the money is irrelevant to some degree. But you definitely want to get what you’re worth and things like that.

“At the end of the day it’s about winning a Super Bowl.”


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(10:32 am ET) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has been dealing with a cold for about a week, said Thursday he is feeling "pretty good." Brady is still expecting to be OK for the Super Bowl.

"I've been through it plenty of times," Brady said of having a cold, per NFL Network. "But I'm glad it happened early in the week. I expect to be 100 percent by Sunday."

Brady is 3-2 in five Super Bowl appearances. He has completed 127 of 197 passes for 1,277 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has a 93.8 quarterback rating and hasn't had lower than a 86.2 quarterback rating in five Super Bowl starts.

As of Thursday, the Patriots remain 1-point favorites for Sunday's game against the Seahawks.


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It's been about a month since Bell suffered the injury, but he said he has been able to work out on the injured knee.

"The knee is close to 100 percent," Bell told NFL Network on Wednesday night. "I'm probably about 85-90 percent, been able to run on it a little bit. So I'm getting back to work out a little."

Bell had a monster year in 2014, rushing for a career-best 1,361 yards. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry. He also had 83 catches for 854 yards and finished with 11 total touchdowns (eight rushing).


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by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:55 am ET)
As Deflategate pushes into Day 11 on Thursday, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is the latest in the long list of current or former professional football players to weigh in on underinflated footballs being used in the AFC Champhionship Game. Although, his take on the issue might be a first.

“I didn't even know that the ball had to be a certain weight,” Griffin told Chris Russell in an interview on ESPN 980 on Wednesday night, per CSNWashington.com. “I know they pump up the balls and they get inspected before every game. But I wasn't aware that the ball had to be at a certain limit, or higher, which is interesting. I think it’s very interesting.”

While Griffin said he was unaware of the rules, he added he does pay attention to how he can grip the football before each game. If the football doesn't meet Griffin's standards, he said he tosses it aside.

“I think it could be something that we look at going into the future about how much we pump up the ball,” Griffin said. “But at the same time, for me, going this far in my career, all we worry about is, can we grip the ball? Not how much air is in it.

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by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) With expectations sky-high for Latavius Murray in 2015, the Raiders aren't expected to re-sign impending free agent running back Darren McFadden, reports CSNBayArea.com. McFadden, 27, averaged 3.4 yards per carry this season and has not had a good year since 2011.

Oakland also is expected to part ways with 29-year-oold running back Maurice Jones-Drew, saving the team $2.5 million.

Murray, 25, averaged 5.2 yards on his 82 carries and will enter next season as the starter.


 
 
 
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