Foster, McCoy or Rice?

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You are sitting at your desk with a monumental decision in front of you. No, it's not whether to quit your job, buy the new car you've been looking at or invest in Facebook stock. (By the way, the answers are respectively; no, yes and no.) It's a much more important question than any of those trivial life-changing choices.

The question is which running back to choose No. 1 at your upcoming NFL Fantasy Draft?

The consensus of those currently doing mock drafts is that your choice should be among three running backs: Houston's Arian Foster, Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy or Baltimore's Ray Rice.

Of course, there are a few outside-the-box thinkers who like Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers or Detroit wideout Calvin Johnson, but for the most part, the decision appears to be a three-man running back race.

Let's dive into the subject and see who we believe has the right stuff to be the No. 1 choice in 2012.

Arian Foster, Houston (current ADP 1.5)

The Texans' star tailback came into his own in 2010 (1,616 rush yds, 604 rec yds, 18 TDs) and while a number of factors held him back in 2011, he still combined for 1,841 yards and 12 touchdowns last year in 13 games. Not bad numbers for an "off" year.

Those limiting factors were a hamstring injury during most of the exhibition season that also kept him out of two of the first three regular season games and the season-ending loss of quarterback Matt Schaub in Game 10.

With a huge new contract in hand and the Schaub-to-Andre Johnson hookup returning to keep defenses honest, fantasy owners obviously think Foster can repeat his 2010 production.

Limiting factors - Ben Tate ran well whether Foster was in the lineup or out. Throwing out the games where Tate started for the injured Foster, the former Auburn Tiger still carried the ball almost 10 times a game. The Texans have shown they are not afraid to use Tate in any situation.

Over his entire career, Foster has dealt with injuries. From knee problems during his senior season at Tennessee to the six games he played his rookie season to missing three games last season, Foster has only once played a full schedule.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia (ADP 2.6)

Last season was far and away the best season of McCoy's three years in the NFL. Rushing for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns, McCoy added 315 yards receiving and three more scores for an NFL-leading 20 touchdowns. McCoy played 15 of 16 games last season and averaged 21.4 touches-per-game, up from 19 touches the previous season and 12.2 touches in his rookie year.

Limiting factors - Coach Andy Reid has suggested that McCoy might have a lighter workload this season to protect his health.

Reid is a pass-first coach. Since his tenure with the Eagles started in 1999, he's passed 57-percent of the time for 65.3-percent of the team's yardage. That hasn't changed at all with the arrival of McCoy. Over the past three seasons the percentages are 56.9-percent and 66.0-percent, respectively.

Seventeen rushing touchdowns doesn't seem repeatable if Michael Vick runs as Michael Vick can run. The Eagles also brought in two running backs - Bryce Brown (Kansas State) and Chris Polk (Washington), an obvious indication that they are concerned about overworking their stud running back.

Ray Rice, Baltimore (ADP 3.2)

Rice has been the most consistent of the three running backs from a yardage standpoint. He's rushed for 1,339, 1,220 and 1,364 over the past three seasons and also been a consistent receiver out of the backfield averaging 72 receptions and 654 yards-per-season.

The most exciting reason to select Rice at No. 1 is that he's begun to score touchdowns to go with the great yardage totals. From 2009-10 Rice scored a total of 14 touchdowns while yielding red zone carries to Willis McGahee. Last season the team showed their confidence in Rice by letting him get the close- in carries and he rushed for a career-high 12 touchdowns. With only Temple rookie Bernard Pierce behind him, Rice's numbers figure to continue their upward climb.

Rice has also been as durable a running back as there is in the league. He played in all 48 games over the past three seasons

Adding his durability, consistent yardage totals and an increasing touchdown total should be clear indicators that Rice should be your No. 1 overall selection on Draft Day.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at

The Sports Network, a STATS Company. All Rights Reserved.  home | terms of use | privacy policy | comments |