Digging Into The Stats: Arian Foster

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Sep 9, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) catches a pass against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Texans defeated the Chargers 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Under Coach Kubiak, Arian Foster was used a lot in the passing game. He was used as the second best weapon in the pass game before DeAndre Hopkins was drafted. Andre Johnson was the only playmaker in 2010, 2011, and 2012, so the offense needed Arian Foster to catch passes. His role in the offense has since declined over the past few seasons. To get a visual, check out this chart by Rotoviz.com

  • The chart clearly shows a decrease in targets, receptions, and yards over the past three years. My guess is DeAndre Hopkins blossoming as the second pass playmaker in the past two seasons is a big reason for Foster losing pass touches. Maybe his health was the reason. Maybe just the coaching staff and game plan changed.
  • Either way, Arian Foster hasn’t been asked to do as much. He was 14th in the NFL in receiving yards for all running backs with 327 yards. Similarly, he finished 17th in receptions. He was still an above average pass catching back despite losing a portion of his role under Coach Bill O’Brian.
  • The craziest receiving stat was his touchdown rate. Look at the difference over his career. He more than doubled his receiving touchdown per game total in 2015. Since the sample size is small, I expect this to regress back to his normal .12 to .15 touchdown rate instead of his .38 rate last year.
  • A better way to look at Arian Foster as a passing back is to compare his stats to the other top rushing backs. Many of the elite pass catching backs aren’t efficient runners (i.e Shane Vereen, Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles). This is how Arian Foster stacks up against the elite “rushing” running backs:
  • Only Matt Forte and Le’Veon Bell were better than Arian Foster last year in the passing game out of this group. Most of the other elite rushers don’t produce that much via the air. Arian Foster’s dual threat makes him a rare back.
  • Arian’s outlier touchdown rate is once again an obvious stand out. He was the leader in that category out of the group even though Matt Forte and Le’Veon Bell had twice as many catches.

Next: Digging Into The Stats: DeAndre Hopkins