As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each fantasy football season, injuries are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” will be a brief series that examines players who are now being forced to step into the starting role because of an injury suffered to a fantasy stud during camp. 

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Alfred Blue — RB, Houston Texans

This is an interesting case seeing we still don’t know the extent of Arian Foster’s injury. Original reports had Foster missing more than half the season, while recent reports have hinted to a potential return in the neighborhood of Week 2-4. What we do know is that Foster now has a lot of miles on his legs at age 29, and is coming off a groin injury serious enough to require surgery.

That means the starting job belongs to Alfred Blue until Foster is capable of taking on the workload. Blue struggled for the most part as a rookie in 2014. He played in all 16 games and was able to handle 169 carries, but only rushed for 528 yards (3.1 YPC) and a pair of touchdowns. It’s also worth noting that Blue is off to a solid preseason start in limited action — 13 carries for 69 yards (5.3 YPC).

Despite some let down, fantasy football is all about opportunity, and that’s exactly what Blue will have for as long as Foster is sidelined. When given the opportunity last season, Blue did show that he is capable of putting up bigger numbers. Here’s a look at Blue’s stat line in games Foster sat out in 2014.

Week 3 — 13 carries, 78 yards, one catch, 10 yards.

Week 11 — 36 carries, 156 yards.

Week 12 — 16 carries, 46 yards, three catches, 20 yards.

Obviously, we’ve got some pretty mixed results here, but the big problem is no touchdowns as a starter. Fortunately, that’s probably more of a fluke than anything. Week 12 he had a bad game, but the other two were very good games, especially knowing that Blue can handle the grind of a game with 36 touches — something crucial to a featured back’s value.

Foster also exited the season finale after just five touches, and Blue was able to make due filling in, at least from a fantasy perspective.

Week 17 — 17 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD, six catches, 37 yards.

The touchdown and receptions saved an otherwise horrible day, but it’s nice to know Blue can in fact get into the end zone and find other ways to be effective.

Blue is a huge question mark when it comes to how talented Blue can be. We saw a lot of inconsistencies in his rookie season, but sometimes that’s to be expected. However, the proof is in the pudding — and in this case the pudding is Week 11 — Blue has the ability to be a starting RB.

The bottom line is that what matters most is if the Texans give him the chance to take on Foster’s workload. It looks like they will, which means as the next man up, Blue needs your attention.

Find me on Twitter @julianedlow