What's Ben Tate's Fantasy Football Value Moving Forward?

Back from injury, Tate rushed for 123 yards against the Titans. Can he keep it up?

The Cleveland Browns signed Ben Tate this offseason to be their workhorse back. After being behind Arian Foster for years in Houston, Tate finally had a chance to prove himself. And fantasy owners rejoiced. Tate was expected to be a top-30 back, barring injury, especially as the Browns were going to run the ball a lot with Josh Gordon suspended for a large portion of the season and a new coaching regime in place.

But lo and behold, Ben Tate suffered a knee injury in Week 1. The Browns, however, continued to run well without him, as Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell picked up the slack, making the Browns a top-10 rushing offense.

Ready to return in Week 5, many expected the Browns to share carries between the three backs, but a healthy Tate was named the starter and rushed for 123 yards against the Tennessee Titans, accumulating 12 fantasy points in ESPN Standard Leagues.

For the season, Tate has had 28 carries for 164 yards, a 5.9 yards per carry average, and no touchdowns, good for 16 total fantasy points in the two weeks that he's played. But with a crowded backfield in Cleveland, what's Ben Tate's value moving forward?

Breaking It Down

On Sunday, the Browns had 35 carries and Ben Tate had 22 of them. Tate, right now, is the unquestioned starter, having been returned to the starting role by the coaching staff as soon as he was healthy. While he will share some of the workload with Crowell and West, Tate will get the majority of the carries as long as he's healthy.

Further, Tate's been the best back among the three in terms of numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, even though he's had fewer carries. Rushing NEP measures how many points a players added or subtracted from his team through rushing attempts, while Rushing NEP per play measures the points added or subtracted on a per play basis. Success Rate shows the percentage of plays that contribute positively towards a player's NEP.

Rushing NEPPer RushSuccess Rate
Ben Tate7.880.2860.71%
Isaiah Crowell6.500.2048.48%
Terrance West5.850.1142.59%

In fewer carries (West has 54 and Crowell has 33 compared to Tate's 28), Tate has been better overall and on a per play basis. He's also had more successful runs that both Crowell and West. It's not that West and Crowell are playing poorly - they're rushing very well - but Tate has just been better.

Among running backs with between 20 and 50 carries, Tate ranks fifth in Rushing NEP, fifth in Rushing NEP per play and fourth in Success Rate. In the two games he's played, Tate's been very good, both before and after injury. If Tate can stay healthy, he could easily perform like a RB1 this season, especially against the Browns upcoming schedule. Cleveland takes on the 28th, 18th and 16th ranked run defenses in the Steelers, Jaguars and Raiders over the next three weeks.

For the rest of the season, numberFire projects Tate to be the 18th-best running back, accumulating 111.91 fantasy points. Tate's top historical comparable, according to numberFire's algorithms, is LenDale White's 2008 season, in which he rushed for 773 yards and 15 touchdowns, good for 169 fantasy points. While Tate probably won't equal White's touchdown total, there's a good chance he could rush for 700 plus yards and 5 to 10 touchdowns.

So if he's on the waiver wire, or if you have a chance to trade for him, do it. Tate's the number-one back on one of the best rushing teams in the NFL, and barring another injury, he should perform like it for the Browns and your fantasy team.