Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is Ben Tate a concern for Arian Foster owners? Are fumbles? What is Ben Tate’s value?

Still healthy after the first preseason game, Arian Foster is atop many if not all draft boards regardless of format. The Rodgers/Brady #1 folk are beginning to make noise and it’s getting louder, but with each passing week the upper tier of the healthy RB's is getting thinner and the guys with question marks loom over the rest of the first round.

Last year going into Fantasy Drafts, owners were conflicted with Foster’s Hammy and his “Tweet Gate,” where he sent out a supposed MRI pic of his hammy. I for one had Rice #1 and took him in leagues where I had the #1 pick because of this. Hammy’s tend to linger and RB’s especially are brought back slower because of them. Choosing Rice, worked out well last year.

This year, the rage is if you are going with Foster, you have to reach for Tate as a handcuff.  Or, Tate is a quality flex because of Texans run scheme.

I’m all aboard the Tate handcuff theory. If you are going to draft Foster you have to seriously consider getting Tate a round ahead of his current ADP at your draft time. My quandary lies in the thinking if Tate is flex worthy, why is Foster #1 overall versus carry and receiving cows like Rice, McCoy, Mathews (pre-injury) and even McFadden sans Bush.

If Tate is flex worthy, he must be getting up to 10-12 carries or 12-15 total touches a game right?
The folks that think Tate is flex worthy or even serviceable in many leagues may just be looking at the 2011 season totals and where Tate finished.

For the full season, Foster and Tate combined for 453 rush attempts with Tate close to a 40% share. Perhaps they are looking Tate’s gaudy 5.4 rushing yards per attempt and quantifying that over his total 175 carries and think, wow a 1,000 yard back with just 10 or more carries!

One thing not helping Tate’s flex worthy status is his lack of involvement in the passing game. Active in 15 games last year, Tate only registered 19 passing targets with 13 receptions, so it’s not like Tate has added value in the receiving game.

Perhaps folks forgot Foster’s first three weeks of the season because of the way he closed out weeks 4 through 16. That has to be it right?

For comparisons sake, let’s look at the 12 weeks or three fourths of the season (wks 4 and 6 – 16) when both players were active together at the same time (not counting Foster’s limited wk 2). During this period they amassed 361 or 80% of their total 453 of carries.

For the season the split % was 61/39 in favor of Foster. Over the period of week 4 and 6 – 16 when both were active, the split % was 74/26 in favor of Foster or 268 carries versus 93 with a 22 vs. 8 average carry per week.

Remember when I said that Tate only had 19 targets and 13 receptions for the year? Well Foster had 71 targets and 53 receptions.

Eight carries per game and roughly 1 passing target doesn't scream flex to me. Tate is purely handcuff only material as long as Foster is healthy and dominating the carries and targets.

What concerns me now?

A slight concern over change in starting O-Line, but zone blocking is more about the unit than individuals.

Primarily, I want to see more carries from Foster in the next two weeks. His first action of the 2012 preseason saw him lose a fumble. Closing out 2011, Foster had 3 fumbles in his last 5 games with zero in his previous 6. That’s FOUR in his last SIX active games! He only had 2 in all of the 2010 regular season.

The fastest and only real way for Tate to close the split of carries variance and gain flex worthiness is for Foster to maintain his trend of fumbles. Tate however, is the #1 handcuff option in Fantasy Football.