The Houston Texans are going the wrong direction right now, with a four-game losing streak and much-maligned quarterback Matt Schaub sidelined by an ankle injury for Week 7 against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and perhaps beyond. Case Keenum will make his first NFL start in Schaub’s place on Sunday, which means the Texans are likely to lean heavily on Arian Foster and the running game as long as the game remains compettive.
Foster is clearly a must-start for fantasy owners, but is backup Ben Tate a potential option this week as well?
Foster was held out of practice with a sore hamstring on Thursday, but barring a surprise on Friday’s injury report he is expected to play and should easily get his customary workload of 20-plus touches with Keenum under center.
Tate’s first game of the season with double-digit carries came in Week 6 against the St. Louis Rams, and he also scored his first touchdown of the season last week. Overall he has 51 carries for 268 yards along with 14 catches for 51 yards on the season, and there is a significant ceiling on his fantasy value as long as Foster is healthy.
The Chiefs entered Week 7 allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs (11.5 per game, ESPN scoring) and just two total touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) to the position, but opposing ball carriers have only combined for 20 or more carries twice in six games. The Texans are virtually certain to make their running back tandem the focal point of their offensive game plan, so it’s fair to think they could have some success on the ground based on volume alone.
Tate is not a must-start for fantasy owners this week by any means, but I think he will get double-digit carries along with a few receptions and the possibility of a touchdown against the Chiefs. That makes him worth considering as a flex option in 12 and 14-team leagues for owners that have injury concerns at running back, with the potential for more if Foster is at all limited by his hamstring issue.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.