Ben Tate is only owned in 51 percent of Yahoo.com leagues, but he is not a normal backup running back, and the Houston Texans offense is not a normal offense. Normally, a backup running back is good for little besides a handcuff for your much more valuable starting back or a desperation play hoping that he can vulture a touchdown.
In this case Tate is a handcuff but he is a handcuff that could win a championship for you. There are three key factors that any fantasy owner needs to take into account now that we are about halfway through the season and most things have cleared up pretty well.
The first thing to take into consideration with any handcuff is the possibility of the starter being hurt. Arian Foster has missed three games this season due to a hamstring injury. He appears to be 100 percent healthy right now but hamstrings are funny injuries and sometimes pop up again later in the season. However, what may be more important to note is that Foster was also injured last season. He didn't miss any games because he didn't tell anybody that he was hurt but even if he is completely healthy at the end of the season he may see a reduced workload simply to make sure that he is healthy for a possible playoff run.
The AFC South is arguably the worst division in football, even though the NFC West is giving it a solid run for its money except for San Francisco. With that said the Texans should be good enough to clinch an early berth into the playoffs. Currently the Texans have only a half game lead on the Titans but they also have a tie-breaker (which essentially makes it a game and a half lead) and the final game of the season is against the Titans in Houston.
The Texans are currently plus-51 in net points on the season, which is second in the AFC behind only the Ravens. The Titans on the other hand are negative-23 on the season. The Texans are clearly a better team and as the offense continues to evolve throughout the course of the season Tate should expect to take on a larger role as the schedule softens up and the Texans run the ball more.
The Texans offense is designed to allow any running back who understands the system to excel and Tate has proven that he understands the system, averaging just over 100 yards per game as a starter. Whereas most backup running backs are a risky play in fantasy football, Tate is someone that you can start with confidence.
With that said Tate has plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks to get a larger share of the load and become a quality pickup for your team.