Fantasy Football Clarity: Ryan Moats and Steve Slaton

Kyle WinslowCorrespondent INovember 9, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 08:  Antoine Bethea #41 of the Indianapolis Colts causes a fumble as he tackles  Ryan Moats #21 of the Houston Texans during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts won 20-17.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

All week, fantasy owners had to speculate on what would happen with Steve Slaton's demotion.  Would Ryan Moats take over the starting job full time, or was he a one-week wonder?  An analysis of Houston's game versus the Indianapolis Colts finally shed some light on the situation.

Just before kickoff, the Texans announced that Moats would start the game instead of Slaton.  Moats carried the ball 16 times to Slaton's six, although those 16 carries only went for a total of 38 yards.  Moats also had a receiving touchdown and was targeted the same number of times as Slaton in the receiving game.

However, Slaton had Houston's only rushing touchdown and actually averaged slightly more yards per carry than Moats.  Also, Moats was the one who fumbled in this game, even though it was Slaton that was benched because he coughed up the rock too much. 

Slaton still has fantasy value, but he was utilized more like a third-down back in his new role.  Coach Gary Kubiak said earlier in the week that both backs were about equal in pass protection, but Slaton was a better receiver and could be split out wide.

Slaton will continue to get enough touches to have scoring opportunities, and he is always a threat to take a screen pass the distance.  But it looks like Moats will be the featured back in Houston's offense.

Even though Slaton got the rushing touchdown, Moats got almost all of the goal-line carries.  And although Moats' yardage output wasn't spectacular against the Colts, he should have better opportunities in upcoming matchups. 

The Texans were behind for nearly the entire game, but in games where they play with the lead they will likely run the ball more often and use empty backfield packages with Slaton less.  The Texans also have upcoming games against St. Louis and Jacksonville who both rank near the bottom of the league in rush yards allowed per game.

The only caveat is that if Moats loses any more fumbles, Slaton may get his job back by default.  It doesn't seem likely that they would rescind Moats's promotion after one lost fumble when it took Slaton five to lose his job, but it is certainly something to keep your eye on if you have either player on your fantasy roster.

Neither player has the same value as Slaton did before it was a committee running back situation in Houston, but for now, I would feel more comfortable starting Ryan Moats than Steve Slaton.