Fantasy Football 2013: Taking a Stance Against Ben Tate

Fantasy Football Ben Tate

Photo Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images

Sound the horns! The time has come for Ben Tate to shed his elite handcuff status and step into the primary ball carrier limelight. With Arian Foster out of the picture for the remainder of the year, Tate will get his long-awaited opportunity to carry the burden full time and reward his patient owners (and to play himself into a lucrative 2014 contract). The third-year running back has been touted with heavy promise since his 942-yard rookie campaign – a total achieved in fewer than 12 carries per game in a change of pace role – and for good reason. BUT, the picture going forward is not all peaches and cream. Deep inside the numbers, there are reasons to be leery of a heavy dependence on Tate.

  • Where’s Tate the bulldog?  He’s carried the ball 62 times in the Texans’ last four games at a clip of 3.2 yards per rush. 15 of those carries, or 24%, have resulted in either no gain or negative yardage. According to Advanced NFL Stats, his Success Rate on the season is 36.8% (positive value plays), ranking 50th among 76 qualifying running backs.
  • Tate has TWO 15+ yard runs all season on 103 carries, and ZERO since week four. Contrast that figure to 2011, where he ripped off 13 “breakaway” runs on 175 carries. Nursing broken ribs for several weeks, Tate’s big play ability has disappeared entirely.
  • This was the unconvincing play sequence on Tate’s lone touchdown – six attempts to pick up five goal line yards:

3rd and 1 from five-yard line | no gain

4th and 1 from five-yard line | three-yard gain

1st and GL from two-yard line | one-yard gain

2nd and GL from one-yard line | no gain

3rd and GL from one-yard line | no gain

4th and GL from one-yard line | one-yard TD

  • The 2013 Texans have no offensive identity. Their greatest strength since Arian Foster emerged as a star in 2010 had been softening defenses with a dedication to the run and then opening the field with the play-action game. Early quarterback failures had a severe detrimental impact on this pattern of play. Despite early success from a statistical perspective, undrafted FA Case Keenum remains a wild card and operates more comfortably from the shotgun.
  • Playing off the previous point of team identity, the Texans offensive line hasn’t gelled. Outside of center Chris Myers, the O-line has struggled to create openings in its patented zone blocking scheme. All-Pro tackle Duane Brown has been uncharacteristically poor in run blocking since returning from a toe injury in week five. The holes have been few and far between.

Of course, I am simply playing devil’s advocate here. Tate possesses undeniable running talent, capable of shedding defenders between the tackles or challenging the secondary with 4.43 wheels. He’ll also face off with Tennessee and Jacksonville (twice) in the final seven weeks. However, facts are facts. His extreme dearth of explosive plays and frequent failures on short yardage are legitimate reasons for apprehension in utilizing him as a RB2. His health situation only serves to obscure his value further.

*Premium Stats provided by ProFootballFocus.com*

Follow Adam on twitter @AdamGaneles for NFL analytics and breakdowns

Comments

  1. Adam that is an interesting bit of info. I have had Tate as a handcuff all season. I am now being offered McCoy and Josh Gordon for Ben Tate and Brando Marshall.. I also have Gore, Calvin Johnson and AJ Green. Should I take the trade? McCoy has a bye week 12 which could hurt my chances of finishing first in league with best record (prize). Team that is trading me is currently in first and wants to try to maintain that with trade. Marshall as has the QB issue with Cutler out. Thanks. 2RB,3WR league

  2. Adam Ganeles says:

    What’s good, Lamar?

    Despite the tone of this article, I think Tate has solid upside the rest of the way — if his ribs heal.

    Gordon has been inconsistent at best since Hoyer went down… McCown gives his big WR’s a chance to make plays and throws frequent jump ball types. To me, the difference between Marshall and Gordon is large for the remainder of the year. Probably a larger gap than McCoy v. Tate.

    If it was my team, I’d hold off on the deal. But also understand the theory of bringing in new blood.. Good luck, sir.

    • Thanks Adam……I held off….maybe I will try to put Andre Johnson instead of getting Gordon and see if I can get that done. Thanks for the reply.

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