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Ben There, Done That

Tate

The Cleveland Browns made their expected splash into the free agent running back market by signing Ben Tate, formerly of the Houston Texans, to a two-year deal worth up to $7 million. Tate is an immediate upgrade in the running back corps for Cleveland and in theory, he should give the Browns the much needed punch in the running game they’ve been sorely lacking. Over his three year career in Houston, Tate has posted 1,992 rushing yards on 421 carries (good for a healthy yards per carry average of 4.7) and ten touchdowns. He’s also caught 58 passes for another 287 yards. Tate has shown explosive ability and a ruggedness the Browns could really use.

So, why is this an upgrade  only in theory?

Like most of the moves in free agency this year, this one comes with a lot of risk in both reality and fantasy. Tate has battled his share of injuries, including ankle, foot, hamstring and rib issues over the past three seasons and has never played 16 games in any year. In fact, many dynasty league owners remember taking Tate with a high first round pick in 2010, only to see him break his ankle in the preseason opener and be placed on injured reserve, opening the door for Arian Foster to become a fantasy dynamo. Much like Hakeem Nicks and Toby Gerhart, there are no sure things when it comes to assessing the fantasy value of Tate. The free agent market was simply littered with players with lots of upside and lots of question marks.

Let’s assess the players whose values have been affected by this move.

Ben Tate, RB CLE

Let’s start with the positives.

If Tate is healthy (and that’s a HUGE if), he should provide a much needed boost to a team needing a weapon in the running game. The offensive line is underrated and Tate has shown the ability to succeed in this type of run blocking scheme. Our own Jeff Miller recently cited lead backs average 260 touches per season under new Browns Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan versus 172 the year before his arrival. If there are signs Shanahan is comfortable with the 2014 presumed starter in Cleveland (now Ben Tate), their stock should take a significant leap up. In short, it’s a perfect fit for him if it works out. He should give the Browns an effective runner who can break a big play or get a third and short when they really need it. His presence would keep defenses more honest and open things up for Josh Gordon and company.

And the negatives?

Health is the biggest concern, but Tate (much like Gerhart) is likely going to be playing with a rookie quarterback. With just Brian Hoyer on the roster, the Browns are most certainly going to add another signal caller in the 2014 NFL Draft like Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles. Defenses will likely stack the box and rush the passer, daring a rookie to beat them. If Hoyer wins the job, it’s a little safer, but he’s also inexperienced and unproven.

In the end, Tate represents a high risk, high reward player in dynasty leagues. It’s exciting to see him get his shot, but anointing him as a rock solid RB2 with little to no worry would be a bit of a pipe dream. Like many free agents coming signing before him this week, his value comes with an asterisk. Feeling lucky?

Edwin Baker, RB CLE

Not much changes on the Baker front as he remains a deep sleeper and roster stash in large dynasty leagues. He showed well last season in limited duty, rushing for 171 yards and two scores on 43 carries. He’d be a good handcuff to Tate owners at the moment, but we’ll have to see just what the Browns do in the NFL Draft to address the position. He was never a realistic option as a starter going into the season.

Fozzy Whitaker, RB CLE

He’ll likely compete with the likes of Jamaine Cook, Dion Lewis and Chris Ogbonnaya for a roster spot. Whitaker and Lewis look to be the best out of that group, but you’d have to be in a really deep league to place any type of value in this group.

Arian Foster, RB HOU

With Tate out of the way in Houston, the stage is set for his comeback. What does he have left? That question is the one every single fantasy owner would love to have the answer to.

Dennis Johnson, RB HOU

If the Texans fail to address the position in the NFL Draft, Johnson looks to be the new handcuff to Foster in Houston – that’s a designation not to be taken lightly with Foster’s recent injury struggles. Johnson fared pretty well last year in spot duty last season and should be on the radar in virtually every dynasty league.

Ken Kelly

Ken Kelly

Senior Partner - Executive Editor at DynastyLeagueFootball
Ken is a corporate trainer by day an a tireless editor of dynasty content by night. His passion for the World Champion Seattle Seahawks is second only to his love of fantasy football and the dynasty format.

Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
Ken Kelly
31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Coach

    March 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    well i had tate and foster last year… so now i have 2 starting running backs. thats a plus.

    now i need MJD to sign with the Jets and Moreno to sign somewhere that needs a solid back. (Miami?)

  2. buckmaster

    March 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    looking for opinions. i’ve been offered spiller, bernard pierce, and 1.08 for leveon bell and 2.12. should i pull the trigger?

    • Sensei John Kreese

      March 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Im a Bills fan, and a HUGE Spiller fan/apologist

      Keep Bell.

      • Luke

        March 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

        Bills fan, can you comment on a potential trade for me:

        I give: Eric Decker, Kendall Wright, 2014 3rd, 2015 2nd

        I get: Antonio Brown, Robert Woods, 2015 3rd

        • mitchy the kid

          March 15, 2014 at 5:58 pm

          i would not do that deal

          • Luke

            March 15, 2014 at 6:25 pm

            Sorry, forgot to mention I would get Dalton in the deal also. It’s a 2QB league so Dalton has some value. I have Brees and Manuel as well already.

            Isn’t Antonio the best WR in that trade tho with the highest ceiling?

            My other WRs are Marshall, Garçon, Cruz, and Hunter so I have some depth.

        • Sensei John Kreese

          March 16, 2014 at 2:37 am

          Antonio Brown was the WR1 in my PPR/special teams league.

          If it were me, I would do this deal with very little hesitation, almost regardless of scoring. Antonio Brown is a rare talent IMO, while Eric Decker is a New York Jet.

          Call me what you will, but I actually value Wright more than I do Decker at this point.

        • phantasy5

          March 16, 2014 at 6:43 am

          I wouldn’t do that, it’s lop sided & not in your favor.

          • Luke

            March 16, 2014 at 9:14 am

            What about Jake Locker (this is a 2QB league), Robert Woods, and 2015 1st for Eric Decker.

        • smudga55

          March 16, 2014 at 11:56 am

          I had to go back and re-read this post as I couldnt believe people were saying not to do it. If I’m reading this right you give decker, kendall right a 3 and a 2 and you get dalton, brown, woods and a 3 in a 2qb league???? ……if that’s it then snap his hand off quick as it’s a huge win. No doubt.

        • phantasy5

          March 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm

          I didn’t realize you were getting Dalton? I like Dalton a tic better than Locker especially in a 2QB league. I don’t have a problem with Brown for Decker. I happen to like Wright better than Woods, so with the QB situation in both Ten. & Buf. it’s a wash. I guees it comes down to the picks for me? If you can squeeze him for a 1st go for it, if not do it anyway based on getting the QB too.

          • Luke

            March 16, 2014 at 12:53 pm

            He rejected the Dalton offer.

            I offered Decker for Locker, Woods, and 2015 1st.

            Feel like that’s a good return since QBs are tough to get in 2QB. Even a middling QB like Locker.

        • phantasy5

          March 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm

          That sounds like a steal, good luck with landing it!

    • Jon

      March 15, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      I’d do that deal. Absolutely. Spiller, Pierce And the 1.08 fro Bell and the 24th pick is a nice deal imo. I’m not a L.Bell fan though as I have my doubts about him. Always have. He depends on volume to produce and I don’t think he’ll be able to handle that volume over the long haul. Just my opinion though. I know a lot of people like him. I just don’t see him as anything overly special and think he could be replaced by a better talent in a year or two. I’m also not a huge fan of Spiller as he burned me big time last year – but I’d say if healthy, he is the most valuable piece in this deal. To get the 1.08 along with Pierce (Rice’s eventual replacement) is bonus.

    • buckmasters

      March 16, 2014 at 5:16 am

      thanks for input….still 50/50. i’m leaning towards taking the trade….hoping spiller bounces back and has a fully healthy year, giving him stats not far from bell, pierce taking over for rice, and a 1.08 would be the kicker….

    • phantasy5

      March 16, 2014 at 6:49 am

      With Kubiak now as Ravens OC and Rice on shaky ground it looks to be a golden opportunity for Pierce to be RB1? I think Spiller bounce back, provided he stays healthy so yes I’d do that deal! I like Bell alot but what your getting for him is value.

  3. Luke

    March 15, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I would keep Leveon Bell and not make that trade.

  4. Robert

    March 15, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    No mention of Dion Lewis? I think he will be the other back with some value in CLE. The organization is still high on him, and he possesses a different skill set from Tate. I still think he will get passing down and COP work in CLE and carve out a decent niche.

    • Ken Kelly

      March 15, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Lewis was mentioned. I agree he could still have some value.

  5. ScoobyDoo

    March 15, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Now that he is finally a starter, what is his trade value? Would you deal him for a mid-first this year?

  6. Sultan of Swat

    March 15, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    His trade value is . . . if you have him don’t trade him.

  7. Ben Tate

    March 15, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    I’ve been offered the

    1.11 and a 2015 swap of 1sts and 2nds

    for Tate.

    The offer came as soon as he signed with CLE. It is a PPR, 3 QB league and I’m very tempted, as it would give me 3 First Rounders this year and I see the next two drafts as loaded with OFF talent.

    • kpowell1962

      March 16, 2014 at 6:29 am

      I struggle with this. For those of us who stashed Tate on our rosters for a couple years, we want to follow it thru. But do we have faith that Cleveland has a clue what they are doing…..probably not.

      • phantasy5

        March 16, 2014 at 6:58 am

        There it is right there! We wait for these guys to get their opportunity and they go to a franchise like the Browns and we’re left with the question of will he make it? Gotta love fantasy! I say hold him and give him a shot, Cleveland is looking like a better place to be now adays. Here’s a question, does Pettine like to run the ball???

      • smcguiga

        March 16, 2014 at 9:59 am

        Hard to trust him to stay healthy he runs too high and is not elusive enough to avoid the big hits…i took opportunity to move him for tanny and a early second which I think was pretty nice value considering it is a 16 team league so tanny pretty valuable there. He is a talented kid bit the injuries are way to much and too wide spread to ignore. The chances of him playing a full season are virtually zero

    • phantasy5

      March 16, 2014 at 7:01 am

      Tough to answer when we don’t know what else you got? Aside from that I say no, hold on and see what he does. You already have 2 picks in the first round! Are you in a win now mode or are you building?

  8. phantasy5

    March 16, 2014 at 7:10 am

    I don’t own Tate or any of the backs mentioned but I’ll be trying to trade for Tate or Foster in 1 league in particular. I’m coming off a winning season an was able to snatch a title probably before I should’ve. We will be redrafting in 2016 so I’m going for broke before then and trying to win again. I was one of the most active owners in the league and will continue that because it worked. I like Tate with his opportunity and if Foster comes back healthy I like him for at least 1-2 more seasons which is perfect. I have my young players too that will be keepers(5)in 2016 so I’m going for it.

  9. [email protected]

    March 16, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I would target RBs other than Foster and Tate. Both have proven they can’t stay healthy for a full season. You may have to give up more, for a more dependable back, but it’s worth it.

    It does you no good to have a great back on paper sitting on your bench in the playoff stretch and in the playoffs.

  10. FFU

    March 16, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Tate will be an RB1 if he stays healthy, which I believe he can do. I biased though as well as I’ve been holding him for three years now in two dynasty leagues. Go Tate, bring home my fourth win in four years!!

    • smcguiga

      March 16, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Rb1? Maybe but a very very long shot…..RB2 more than likely when healthly which will be for like preseason.

  11. SJ

    March 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

    I cant see B.Tate breaking the Top 15 at RB this year, even with Shanahan at OC. He’s always been a bit of a letdown when I’d spot start him throughout the years, so I’ve come away with thinking that Tate is not as dynamic a back to really push for upper-tier fantasy points.

    That said – Tate’s a pretty good RB3 if you have him, but I wouldn’t necessarily go chasing after him, or expect higher than RB2 numbers this or maybe even next year. Bad offense, and its possible Tate may be dependent on volume. Given his injuries, that may not be such a great thing.

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