Ben Tate

Time to get real…and week nine fantasy rankings

It’s time to get real folks. By this point in the season you know what your fantasy team is. You’re either off to a fast start and primed for playoffs or you’re sputtering and praying to sneak in to a wildcard spot. Let’s start with the owners who have come out of the gate on fire.

If you’re 6-2 or 7-1, the playoffs are almost a certainty and you’re feeling good about the consistency of your roster. Something you have done, whether by luck or by strategy, has led you to an excellent start and you can just hover around .500 the rest of the season while coasting into the playoffs. I’ve never been in a league where 9-4 can’t get you into the playoffs. But be careful not to get complacent, because complacency is the demise of a successful fantasy team. Yes your team is killing it thus far, but you’re now the team everyone is gunning for.  Make sure you’re staying active on the waiver wire. Start looking at players with excellent playoff schedules and begin looking forward to the prize. The best thing I can say is: Don’t lose focus. Keep on doing what got you here and you should be punching your ticket to the playoffs any week now.

Next up is the middling, .500 teams. Chances are this is where the majority of you are. It’s the average, the middle of the road. You’ve had some good wins; you’ve suffered some tough defeats. But that’s all in the past. Now you’re a .500 team that needs to pick up steam to make the playoffs. Trades (if your deadline hasn’t already passed) become very interesting. If one player in the trade goes off, it could spark you to a few wins and a playoff spot. If one player busts, you could find yourself on the outside looking in. Find the good matchups, watch for solid players being dropped as roster spots become more of a premium.  You’ve got a 50/50 shot at making it to the big dance, it’s time to find the holes on your team, address them, and pray for the best

Lastly is the team of struggle. The team that had the best draft in the entire league, the one featuring Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Zac Stacy, a sneaky pick of Ray Rice, a stud WR2 in Victor Cruz. Yeah that team is now 2-6 and miserable. While hope isn’t lost, your chances of sneaking into the playoffs are slim to none. You’re in Jets, Jaguars, Buccaneers territory…man, that is a territory I never want to visit. But don’t think it’s impossible. In the majority of leagues, a winning record will get you a wildcard spot. So you’re 2-6? Feel free to start that 5 game win streak this Sunday. If I’m you, I’m looking at trades to shake up my team because why not? Make some bold calls and swing for the fences. Worst-case scenario: you lose this week and play spoiler the rest of the season to your best friends (worst enemies).  If you can’t make playoffs, why not bring your rivals down with you?



Some random notes before rankings:

·      Man this bye week is awful. The following teams are scoring as much as you and I this week: Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans. That means the following are out:


o   Aaron Rodgers (2nd ranked QB)

o   Matt Forte (3rd ranked RB)

o   Jay Cutler (6th ranked QB)

o   Matt Ryan (9th ranked QB)

o   Matthew Stafford (10th ranked QB)

o   Eddie Lacy (11th ranked RB)

o   7 of the top 22 WRs (Cobb, Nelson, Tate, Julio, Watkins, Alshon)


·      A.J. Green terrifies me this week. Now I’ll probably end up eating crow on this one but if I have the WR, I’m not starting him unless I absolutely have to. A toe injury for an athlete like Green may not seem like much but it affects his ability to plant his feet, make cuts and run crisp routes. If I’m a Green owner, I’m giving him a week to get fully acclimated.


·      DeMarco Murray is another stud that worries me a little this week. Yes it may be ridiculous to worry about a guy on pace to set the single-season rushing record. A guy that has at least 100 yards rushing in 8 straight games (unreal). But Murray is facing a Cardinals defense ranked as the toughest against the run in the league. They have yet to allow a 100 yard rusher on the season. Now while they haven’t faced anyone of DeMarco’s talent (LeSean McCoy comes closest), I still think this is a matchup to slightly worry about. Obviously if you have Murray he’s absolutely a lock in your starting lineup. But I would warn you to temper your expectations.


·      Giovani Bernard is dealing with multiple injuries, most notably a banged up hip, which forced him out of last week’s game against the Ravens.  Gio didn’t practice yesterday and if I own him, I’m running to waivers and picking up  Jeremy Hill if he’s available. Be warned, there’s a very real shot Bernard is inactive come Sunday.


·      Thursday Night Football Prediction:


o   Saints 31 – Panthers 17

The Panthers are the 9th worst defense against the pass and 5th worst against the run. The Saints, although they tend to struggle on the road, are looking to take control of a weak NFC South division and I think they come out firing. Brees and Ingram seem primed for huge games and I think it’s another lopsided Thursday Night affair.








1.  Andrew Luck

2.  Peyton Manning

3.  Drew Brees

4.  Tom Brady

5.  Colin Kaepernick

6.  Philip Rivers

7.  Cam Newton

8.  Russell Wilson

9.  Carson Palmer

10. Tony Romo

11. Alex Smith

12. Ben Roethlisberger

13. Eli Manning

14. Brian Hoyer

15. Nick Foles

16. Ryan Fitzpatrick

17. Andy Dalton

18. Teddy Bridgewater

19. Ryan Tannehill

20. Joe Flacco



1.  Arian Foster

2.  Marshawn Lynch

3.  DeMarco Murray

4.  Jamaal Charles

5.  LeSean McCoy

6.  Lamar Miller

7.  Le’Veon Bell

8.  Andre Ellington

9.  Mark Ingram

10. Ahmad Bradshaw

11. Giovani Bernard

12. Ronnie Hillman

13. Alfred Morris

14. Ben Tate

15. Justin Forsett

16. Jerick McKinnon

17. Chris Ivory

18. Branden Oliver

19. Frank Gore

20. Denard Robinson

21. Shane Vereen

22. DeAngelo Williams

23. Trent Richardson

24. Andre Williams

25. Jonas Gray



1.  Antonio Brown

2.  Dez Bryant

3.  Jeremy Maclin

4.  Demaryius Thomas

5.  Kelvin Benjamin

6.  T.Y. Hilton

7.  Andre Johnson

8.  Emmanuel Sanders

9.  A.J. Green

10. DeSean Jackson

11. Mike Wallace

12. Steve Smith

13. DeAndre Hopkins

14. Brandin Cooks

15. Keenan Allen

16. Vincent Jackson

17. Brandon LaFell

18. Terrance Williams

19. Rueben Randle

20. Odell Beckham Jr.

21. Doug Baldwin

22. Marques Colston

23. Mohamed Sanu

24. Cordarrelle Patterson

25. Andrew Hawkins

26. Michael Crabtree



1.  Rob Gronkowski

2.  Julius Thomas

3.  Jimmy Graham

4.  Greg Olsen

5.  Antonio Gates

6.  Dwayne Allen

7.  Travis Kelce

8.  Jordan Reed

9.  Larry Donnell

10. Clay Harbor

11. Vernon Davis

12. Zach Ertz

13. Jace Amaro

14. Jared Cook

15. Mychal Rivera



1.  Seahawks

2.  Bengals

3.  Chiefs

4.  49ers

5.  Browns

6.  Texans

7.  Vikings

8.  Colts

9.  Redskins

10. Chargers



1.  Arian Foster

2.  Marshawn Lynch

3.  DeMarco Murray

4.  Antonio Brown

5.  Dez Bryant

6.  Jamaal Charles

7.  LeSean Mccoy

8.  Jeremy Maclin

9.  Demaryius Thomas

10. Rob Gronkowski

11. Lamar Miller

12. Le’Veon Bell

13. Julius Thomas

14. Kelvin Benjamin

15. Andre Ellington

16. Mark Ingram

17. T.Y. Hilton

18. Jimmy Graham

19. Ahmad Bradshaw

20. Giovani Bernard

21. Ronnie Hillman

22. Andre Johnson

23. Emmanuel Sanders

24. Alfred Morris

25. A.J. Green

26. DeSean Jackson

27. Mike Wallace

28. Ben Tate

29. Justin Forsett

30. Jerick McKinnon

31. Steve Smith

32. DeAndre Hopkins

33. Brandin Cooks

34. Keenan Allen

35. Chris Ivory

36. Branden Oliver

37. Frank Gore

38. Greg Olsen

39. Antonio Gates

40. Vincent Jackson

41. Brandon LaFell

42. Denard Robinson

43. Shane Vereen

44. DeAngelo Williams

45. Terrance Williams

46. Rueben Randle

47. Dwayne Allen

48. Trent Richardson

49. Odell Beckham Jr.

50. Doug Baldwin

Fantasy Decisions: Week 7 Rankings and the Flex

The flex spot in your lineup can be one of the most infuriating positions on this planet.

In most leagues, you’re given the choice between starting a running back, a wide receiver, or tight end. For years, I followed the philosophy of absolutely always using a running back in that flex unless bye weeks forced me to throw in a wide receiver for the position. Running backs have always seemed like the safe play to me. I rationalized all this in my head saying, “Running backs are always going to get carries! You never know if Alex Smith is going to throw to Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery. How am I supposed to figure out whether Matt Hasselback has a good connection with T.J. Houshmandzadeh this week?”

But as the league turns more and more towards an aerial attack, suddenly many teams are using a wide receiver in a flex spot once reserved for RBs only. The two positions are quickly becoming near-equivalents for fantasy purposes. As of this morning, there are 29 running backs that have averaged at least eight points a game this season. And wide receiver? Well, there are 30 in the same category.

Here’s another stat for you. Of the top 40 flex options this year (based on average scoring per week): 17 are RBs, 17 are WRs, 6 are TEs.

Just remember your flex spot is a FLEX spot! It is not a RB3 spot. Receivers are being more utilized every passing year, so now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. Yes, wide receivers may seem more sporadic but in reality, you’re looking at the same stats as the running back position. So use that flex spot for the receiver you keep ignoring; he just might surprise you.

As we look forward to this weekend, don’t forget the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both on bye so feel free to let Mike Glennon and Riley Cooper hang out on your bench. Lastly, the Patriots take on the Jets tonight in an AFC East battle. Set your lineups accordingly. Onto the rankings!



1.     Aaron Rodgers

2.     Philip Rivers

3.     Andrew Luck

4.     Peyton Manning

5.     Jay Cutler

6.     Tom Brady

7.     Russell Wilson

8.     Drew Brees

9.     Carson Palmer

10. Cam Newton

11.  Colin Kaepernick

12.  Matthew Stafford

13.  Brian Hoyer

14.  Joe Flacco

15. Kirk Cousins

16.  Matt Ryan

17.  Tony Romo

18.  Jake Locker

19.  Ben Roethlisberger

20.  Eli Manning


1.     Arian Foster

2.     Demarco Murray

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Le’Veon Bell

5.     Marshawn Lynch

6.     Jamaal Charles

7.     Giovani Bernard

8.     Eddie Lacy

9.     Ben Tate

10. Andre Ellington

11.  Branden Oliver

12. Lamar Miller

13.  Alfred Morris

14.  Justin Forsett

15.  Andre Williams

16.  Ronnie Hillman

17.  Frank Gore

18.  Shane Vereen

19.  Fred Jackson

20.  Joique Bell

21.  Fred Jackson

22.  Chris Ivory

23.  Mark Ingram

24.  Bishop Sankey

25.  Jonathan Stewart


1.     Demaryius Thomas

2.     Antonio Brown

3.     Julio Jones

4.     Jordy Nelson

5.     Dez Bryant

6.     Alshon Jeffery

7.     Brandon Marshall

8.     Randall Cobb

9.     Steve Smith

10.  Golden Tate

11.  Emmanuel Sanders

12.  Andre Johnson

13.  Kelvin Benjamin

14.  Mike Wallace

15.  Mohamed Sanu

16.  Julian Edelman

17.  T.Y. Hilton

18.  DeSean Jackson

19.  Michael Floyd

20.  Percy Harvin

21.  DeAndre Hopkins

22.  Pierre Garcon

23.  Reggie Wayne

24.  Rueben Randle

25.  Keenan Allen


1.     Rob Gronkowski

2.     Julius Thomas

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Jordan Reed

5.     Antonio Gates

6.     Martellus Bennett

7.     Jordan Cameron

8.     Delanie Walker

9.     Travis Kelce

10.  Larry Donnell

11.  Vernon Davis

12.  Dwayne Allen

13.  Jason Witten

14.  Jared Cook

15.  Heath Miller


1.     Seahawks

2.     Bills

3.     Patriots

4.     Texans

5.     Browns

6.     Cardinals

7.     Lions

8.     Broncos

9.     Ravens

10.  Bears

11.  Cowboys

12.  Chargers

13.  Titans

14.  49ers

15.  Packers


1.     Arian Foster

2.     Demarco Murray

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Le’Veon Bell

5.     Marshawn Lynch

6.     Demaryius Thomas

7.     Antonio Brown

8.     Jamaal Charles

9.     Giovani Bernard

10. Julio Jones

11.  Jordy Nelson

12.  Eddie Lacy

13.  Dez Bryant

14.  Rob Gronkowski

15.  Ben Tate

16.  Andre Ellington

17.  Branden Oliver

18.  Julius Thomas

19.  Alshon Jeffery

20.  Lamar Miller

21.  Alfred Morris

22.  Brandon Marshall

23.  Randall Cobb

24.  Justin Forsett

25.  Andre Williams

26.  Steve Smith

27.  Golden Tate

28.  Emmanuel Sanders

29.  Ronnie Hillman

30.  Frank Gore

31.  Shane Vereen

32.  Andre Johnson

33.  Kelvin Benjamin

34.  Mike Wallace

35.  Mohamed Sanu

36.  Greg Olsen

37.  Julian Edelman

38.  Fred Jackson

39.  Joique Bell

40.  T.Y. Hilton

41.  DeSean Jackson

42.  Chris Ivory

43.  Mark Ingram

44.  Bishop Sankey

45.  Jonathan Stewart

46.  Michael Floyd

47.  Percy Harvin

48.  Jordan Reed

49.  Antonio Gates

50.  DeAndre Hopkins

Send in your lineup questions, waiver wire wonders, or trade help to


Free agency is always fun, especially the fantasy implications that come with it. If you don’t realize that it has fantasy implications, let me refresh your memory.

Last year, here is what we saw:

  • Stephen Jackson signed with the Atlanta Falcons (fantasy bust)
  • Mike Wallace signed with the Miami Dolphins. (solid fantasy year)
  • Danny Amendola signed with the New England Patriots (fantasy bust)
  • Wes Welker signed with the Denver Broncos (fantasy stud)
  • Martellus Bennett signed with the Chicago Bears (fantasy sleeper)
  • Reggie Bush signed with the Detroit Lions (fantasy sleeper)
  • Rashard Mendenhall signed with the Arizona Cardinals (bust)
  • Percy Harvin signed with the Seattle Seahawks (injuries made him a total bust)

See what I mean? Clearly, free agency impacts our fantasy squads. That was last year, though. So let’s take a look at just some of the many moves thus far for 2014, as many teams wasted no time signing big names.

Knownshon Moreno

(Denver Broncos -> Miami Dolphins)

From Super Bowl contender to a locker room full of bullies, Moreno is joining the tandem of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas in South Beach. This is not promising for Moreno’s fantasy value. With Peyton Manning, he finished fifth last year in total yards and topped it off with 13 touchdowns. Now, he goes to a Dolphins team with two other running backs that will get significant playing time, limiting his rush attempts. However, this could give Montee Ball a boost in Denver and make him a sleeper in 2014.

Maurice Jones-Drew

(Jacksonville Jaguars -> Oakland Raiders)

Jones-Drew will join Darren McFadden, an all-time fantasy bust, in the Raiders backfield. It looks nice on paper, but Jones-Drew is not the same running back he once was. In Oakland, he will likely enter the season as the starter and be solid. He won’t be the Jones-Drew we used to know, but he should improve over his past two years.

Emmanuel Sanders

(Pittsburgh Steelers -> Denver Broncos)

It doesn’t get much better than catching balls from Peyton Manning. Sanders’ fantasy value is definitely up, and I expect a big year out of him. He will replace Eric Decker, who left for the New York Jets.

Eric Decker

(Denver Broncos -> New York Jets)

Decker is now the number one option for the Jets, and he is going to have a solid fantasy year. However, his value is definitely down from last year. Simply put, Decker just left Peyton Manning for Geno Smith and Michael Vick.

Ben Tate

(Houston Texans -> Cleveland Browns)

Tate’s value has skyrocketed. I am a fan of what Tate did in Houston when he got his carries, averaging 4.7 yards per touch over his career. He will be the starting running back, and I am boldly predicting he’ll finish as a top-12 fantasy back.

Hakeem Nicks

(New York Giants -> Indianapolis Colts)

Nicks signed a one-year deal, meaning he will have to prove he can still be a stud wide receiver after a disappointing year last year. Nicks, who failed to score a touchdown last season, is going to be playing with Andrew Luck and I expect his fantasy value will increase as a result.

Steve Smith

(Carolina Panthers -> Baltimore Ravens)

It is going to be weird not seeing him in a Panthers uniform, but Smith should step into a starting role with the Ravens and do what he does. Count on Smith, and don’t be afraid to draft him.

Darren Sproles

(New Orleans Saints -> Philadelphia Eagles)

The combination of Chip Kelly and Darren Sproles is a fantasy football dream. I expect Sproles to explode this year. I suspect Chip Kelly to use him in a variety of ways and gain a ton of yards with some scores here and there.

LeGarrette Blount

(New England Patriots -> Pittsburgh Steelers)

This is the perfect type of running back for the Steelers. A guy that can ground and pound the football, Blount is going to be a factor on the Steelers. Blount will be a goal-line back at the least, and he will be among the league leaders in touchdowns.

Golden Tate

(Seattle Seahawks -> Detroit Lions)

This definitely helps Tate because the Lions aren’t afraid to throw the ball, and Calvin Johnson will take away a lot of the coverage. If Matthew Stafford looks to his left, Tate should be open. His stock is up.

James Jones

(Green Bay Packers -> Oakland Raiders)

Jones is in a similar situation to Decker, except worse. Not only does he not have Aaron Rodgers anymore, he is going to the Raiders who haven’t had a successful passing season in a long time. His stock is down.

Texans to Watch the Rest of the Year

The Houston Texans dropped their last game against the Panthers, and with it came a much needed knock back down to reality for Texans fans who were ready to buy Super Bowl tickets. Houston achieved its first playoff berth by tackling each game one at a time, and will have to continue to do so as the season wears on. With as many injuries as its sustained, however, doing so will require an especially inspired effort from the few players the Texans have left.

OLB Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed

When Mario Williams suffered a season ending pectoral injury after only the Texan’s fifth game, few thought the linebacking corps would be able to pick up Williams’ record setting pace. But instead of regressing, the Texans defense got even better, really fast, and it has been largely due to the outside linebacker duo of Reed and Connor Barwin stepping up their games. The two have combined for 14.5 sacks (six for Reed and 10.5 for Barwin) in 11 games. Barwin even recorded a sack against the elusive Cam Newton. To secure home-field advantage in the playoffs, the Texans will need their ferocious OLB duo to rattle the Colt’s Dan Orlovsky and Tennessee’s Matt Hasslebeck in their final two games. It’s a task they can absolutely handle, but it’s imperative that they are at the center of the defensive charge.

RB Ben Tate

Speaking of the injury bug, guess who the next player bit was? Backup running back Ben Tate has been phenomenal this season, serving as the bruising complement back to the speedy Arian Foster. However,  Tate was listed as limited with a hamstring injury for Monday's practice. The coaches expect him to play Thursday against the Colts, and they better hope he does. With a rookie quarterback, the Texans offense depends disproportionately on the run game and Foster can’t take all the touches. Foster has also had troubles holding on to the ball as of late which has opened the door for more Tate touches. He was held to just 26 yards against the Panthers, but is averaging a respectable 65 yards a game given his limited touches. This perfect complement back will have to play like a starter every snap he is in for the Texans to make noise in the playoffs.

G Antoine Caldwell

Much of the Texan’s success this season can be attributed to the play of the offensive line. But as the story has gone for most of the season, the line hasn’t been without injury. With guard Mike Brisiel out, Antoine Caldwell was the next man up. He started against the Panthers, a game where the line gave up two sacks, but he played well for the most part. He has three years of NFL experience, and played for a college coach (Nick Saban) who knows a thing or two about building NFL-caliber offensive lineman. All he has to do is protect the rookie T.J. Yates and make room for his running backs, but who knows if the extra load will be too much to handle. If he proves to be a weak link on the line, it could spell trouble come playoff time. Teams are blitzing the young Yates to test him, so Caldwell will have to play his assignments perfectly to give him time to throw.

TE Owen Daniels

Well, let’s start with what we all should have just assumed was going to happen. Daniels is hurt. He tweaked his knee against the Panthers and could be out against the Colts Thursday night. The injury doesn’t look season ending, which is important for T.J. Yates. Daniels has emerged as his favorite target, as Yates is prone to send him the ball on crossing routes. He’s got 53 receptions for 637 yards and three touchdowns on the year. He had a100 yards receiving against the Bengals two games ago and possesses that “big play” ability to move the chains. If Daniels not there against the Colts, it’s no big deal. But if he isn’t healthy come playoffs, the Texans will be missing a key component to their offense that has provided them a key receiving threat all season.

Photos by Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan staff

Houston Texans running back Ben Tate carries the ball during an NFL football training camp practice Friday in Houston.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

HOUSTON — Ben Tate never got a rookie season.

A second-round pick in the 2010 draft, the former Auburn running back broke his right ankle in the Texans’ first preseason game and was carted off the field. He was placed on injured reserve, underwent surgery and watched his first year in the NFL from the sideline.

The 5-foot-11, 219-pound Tate came into this year’s training camp eager to show the Texans what he could do, but he’s hindered by an injury again. He left Tuesday’s practice with tightness in his hamstring, and he and the coaches are left to wonder how he’ll make up the lost time.

“It’s more annoying than anything,” Tate said after Tuesday’s afternoon walk-through. “I need reps. It’s bugging the hell out of me.”

Adding to Tate’s angst is the stacked competition behind 2010 rushing champion Arian Foster. Steve Slaton is looking for a bounceback season, Derrick Ward is trying to follow up a productive 2010 and former Texas star Chris Ogbonnaya has impressed coach Gary Kubiak in early practices.

“It’s frustrating, when you’ve been working so hard in the offseason to get ready for this, and you have a hamstring injury that’s just nagging right now,” Tate said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. The only thing I can do is keep going, and when I do get healthy, come back and show I haven’t missed a beat.”

But Kubiak said Tate is losing ground on the other backs.

“He’s missed a lot of time,” Kubiak said. “He came out [Tuesday] and said his hamstring is sore again, so we pulled him out. He’s missing a lot of work since he’s been out here, so we’re all just waiting on him to get back out here and get going. Those other guys are working their tails off and had another good practice.”

Tate starred at Snow Hill High School in Maryland, setting the state single-season rushing record as a junior (2,886 yards). He averaged 13 yards per carry as a senior, helping his school reach the state championship game.

He was Auburn’s leading rusher as a senior in 2009 (1,362 yards), and the Texans were happy that he was available in the second round.

Last year, Tate was competing for time at running back with Foster, Slaton, Chris Henry and Jeremiah Johnson before snapping his ankle early in Houston’s preseason opener in Arizona. He tried to watch and learn all he could as he recovered from the surgery.

“We wanted him to watch what was going on, how guys prepared for the games,” running backs coach Chick Harris said. “Those are things you sometimes don’t get unless you’re into it.”

But Harris said nothing beats actual practice, and he’s as concerned as Kubiak about how many snaps Tate is sitting out.

“He’s snake-bit,” Harris said. “You just hope that he can work his way out of it. I can understand injuries, they happen. But the guys who can stay on the field, you get more looks at them. He’s got great potential. But we’ve just got to keep him on the field. Stay on the field, that’s when you get your reps. Then you’re ready.”

Tate dismissed the injuries as “just part of football.” He said the ankle held up fine through the first week of practice, and he said the hamstring issue is minor.

But he also realizes the urgency of returning as soon as he can.

“It’s tough, because you do want to be out here with your teammates, you do want to be working hard,” Tate said. “For missing so much time last year, this is stuff that I don’t take for granted anymore, practicing.”

Houston plays its preseason opener against the New York Jets on Monday, and Tate hopes Kubiak gives him a look.

“My No. 1 thing is being able to show what I can do in these preseason games,” Tate said. “If I can get healthy and be healthy for those, that’s all that’s going to matter. I’m missing reps. But as long as I come back, and I know what’s going on, then you’ve got to get better.”