Heading into 2014, running back was a pressing need for the Houston Texans. That sounds ridiculous, knowing that they have All-Pro Arian Foster as their lead back. But they let workout warrior Ben Tate leave in free agency. Before the addition of Andre Brown, they had Ray Graham who had the 3rd worst score of any player since 2005 in my PowerBurst Index, Dennis Johnson, and Jon Grimes, who at this point last season, was working at a Jimmy Johns. Johnson had a chance last year to prove himself and did absolutely nothing to show that he was worthy of being Foster’s backup.
Last offseason, we asked Is Arian Foster Injury Prone? The answer to that question in my mind, is yes. A list of injuries that have caused him to miss time in his pro and colliegate career range from a torn ACL, hamstring pulls to heart troubles. Additionally, Foster was placed on the injured reserve at the end of last season and had offseason back surgery. Anyone trusting Foster in dynasty or redraft is probably kidding themselves. Just look at the atrocity that is his Sim Scores.
Brown has certainly had injury issues of his own through his entire career, including breaking his leg as well as missing games with other bruises and bumps. However, every time Brown has been asked to shoulder the load for his team in a game, he has been able to do so. It may very well be the case that Brown is nothing more than a bit player and that he will suffer an injury if asked to do more, but take a look at what he has done with more than 15 touches in a game in his career.
|Date||Tm||Rush Att||Rush Yds||Y/A||Rush TD||Rec||Rec Yds|
Not too shabby, right? He caught multiple passes in all of the games in which he was heavily featured which is something that we look for in any viable running back candidate. Finding an RB who can get 15 carries a week in what will likely be a dumpster fire of an offense isn’t a particularly enticing option, but with Brown’s ability to catch, I’m more intrigued with him as a Foster replacement. It’s the combination of goal line carries, receptions and standard between-the-20’s work that we’re looking for and finding in Brown.
As of right now, Andre Brown is free in whatever format you want to select him in. In ADP he is being drafted as the 56th RB off the board. The runners immediately surrounding him are Isiah Crowell and Lache Seastrunk, 2 rookies who aren’t even guaranteed to make their actual NFL teams. That represents a massive oversight by the fantasy football community. The Texans spent actual money on Andre Brown as a free agent signing. Dennis Johnson was a waiver wire claim after he was cut from Cleveland, Ray Graham was an undrafted free agent, and so was Jon Grimes.
Brown on the other hand was seen as a solution to an obvious problem by the front office. Another point in his favor is something discussed in this Jeremy Hill article; namely, that veteran running backs are good at things that football coaches seem to value, such as ball security, pass blocking and being a good locker room presence.
Clearly, counting on a full season of health from Foster just isn’t intelligent. He wasn’t healthy his final season of college and only has 1 full season of health as the lead back for the Texans. The departure of Ben Tate (who was frequently one of the most overdrafted, albeit desirable handcuffs in fantasy) left an opening for whichever runner was willing and able to fill the void. Brown is above replacement level as a running back and he makes a perfect option once you get past round 12 in MFL10 or any redraft league. I’ve already selected him on several of my squads and plan on actively targeting him this season in redraft leagues. He’s the perfect combination of inexpensive, talented and relatively free of competition if Foster is injured.