2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Cleveland Browns RB Ben Tate
One of the biggest winners from a players perspective in the NFL free agency has been the new running back for the Cleveland Browns, Ben Tate. Tate went from being an impressive understudy to one of the most explosive running backs in the league in Arian Foster, to presumably locking down the starting job in Cleveland. It is safe to assume that Tate will be able to win the starting job at training camp. The other running backs on the Browns’ depth chart are Charles Ogbonnaya, Fozzy Whittaker, Dion Lewis, and Edwin Baker. Barring an unforeseen injury it seems like Tate will be the top dog in the Cleveland backfield with ease.
Since fantasy football owners can safely assume that Ben Tate will be the Week 1 starter in the Browns’ backfield, has his signing enhanced his fantasy value? Ever since his rookie season where he finished the year averaging 5.4 yards per carry, fantasy owners have noted that Tate has starting RB potential. He had a golden opportunity to prove the fantasy world just how special he really could be when Arian Foster landed himself on injured reserve last season. Tate landed himself on injured reserve after a few weeks of starting when he picked up several broken ribs.
The Cleveland Browns decided to roll the dice by signing Tate, knowing very well that he is injury-prone. He will have to prove to the Browns’ fanbase and the fantasy community that he is worth owning. If Tate can stay healthy, he has a prime opportunity to become a fantasy stud this season. Fantasy owners should like the situation that Tate is being brought into. It is obvious he will handle the starting duties for a team that will be willing to use his skills to their advantage. New Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who worked with Tate for the Houston Texans, will most likely apply the one-cut zone-blocking scheme that was run with the Texans, which suits Tate’s running style.
Fantasy owners need to be fully aware that their taking a serious risk by drafting Tate, however, he could be in for a magical season, where he can solidify his status as a legitimate RB-2 with upside in fantasy football. Fantasy owners must realize that the Browns will plan on riding Tate hard, so he will get plenty of opportunities to make plays and earn fantasy points this season. If he manages to stay healthy throughout the entire 2014 NFL season, then he should be well worth gambling a draft pick on for fantasy owners.