Arian Foster led the NFL not only in rushing yards (1,616) but also in yards from scrimmage (2,220) and touchdowns scored (18) so it would seem pretty obvious that he is the most valuable player on his team if not in the entire league. However, Tom Brady took the NFL MVP based on his 36:4 Touchdown to interception ratio but he did win the MVP for the Texans as well as numerous other awards for his excellence.
However, the first four games of the 2011 season have shown that all of the praise for Foster might be a little bit over stated. Foster is the best running back in the NFL, so please don’t take this as a knock on him he is the elite of the elite, but so is Andre Johnson. The difference is that when Foster was out he was replaced by Ben Tate who averaged over 100 yards per game. Whereas when Andre Johnson is out the Texans replace him with Jacoby Jones who through four games has seven receptions for 91 yards. Jones’ lack of production has come despite extra opportunities because of Kevin Walter being out for a game and a half and Johnson being out for a large portion of the Steelers game.
With essentially two full games as a starter and two more games when he is the third receiver Jones has produced less than 23 yards per game. There are currently 80 receivers that have more receiving yards than Jones, that is not including tight ends or running backs that have more receiving yards. That means that Andre Johnson is being replaced by someone that has no chance of filling his shoes.
In baseball there is a stat called W.A.R. or wins above replacement. The point of the stat is to figure out how much better the team is with their current starter versus where they would be if they had to replace him. In the case of the Texans Foster’s W.A.R. is much lower than Johnson’s because there simply is no replacing Johnson whereas Tate did a very good job of replacing Foster.
Foster is a great player that could prove to be truly special if he can stay healthy and maintain his productivity. However, Johnson is the most irreplaceable and thus the most valuable player on the Texans. All Texans fans had better hope that he comes back sooner rather than later and stay healthy if they hope to win the AFC South and make a run into the playoffs.