It’s hard to imagine that any backup running back could be considered undervalued, especially the backup to the no. 2 running back in the league, but Ben Tate has immense value and could fall all the way to the back end of most fantasy football drafts.
What gives the guy value?
First of all, Arian Foster is known to have injury issues, especially given that he’s coming off an injury and has yet to feature in the preseason. If Foster goes down, Tate takes the reins. The only reason Foster was ever discovered in the first place was because Tate got hurt in his rookie season. He’s got the skills necessary to be an every down back — he just lacks the opportunity at this point.
Secondly, it’s a contract season for Tate. If he wants a better contract, or maybe even a chance at a starting job elsewhere, he is going to make the most out of every carry. Contract years have funny effects on people, and Tate is about to feel that affect.
Thirdly, he serves as a handcuff for Foster. It is imperative that anyone who drafts Foster drafts Tate too. If one goes down, the other benefits. The Houston Texans are a run-first team, and either back can serve that need.
Fourthly, the Texans play in a shoddy defensive division. After establishing big leads, Tate will see more carries to take the load off of Foster. Tate had 15 carries for 83 yards in the Texans’ third preseason game. Any time anyone averages over 5.0 yards a carry, it deserves some attention.
Teams these days run two-back systems, and with the injury concerns of Foster, it would not be surprising to see Tate steal more and more carries in 2013.