Ben Tate Likely Out For Season

It was not a good day for rookie halfbacks.

Texans halfback Ben Tate will likely miss the entire season after fracturing his ankle.

Meanwhile, Titans halfback Stafon Johnson suffered a career-threatening injury when he dislocated his ankle last night.

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11 comments, Last at 17 Aug 2010, 8:31pm

1 Re: Ben Tate Likely Out For Season

meh, Schaub and AJ will just break the single season touchdown record without him.

That's a scary offense this year.

2 Re: Ben Tate Likely Out For Season

Yes, a WR who has never caught double-digit TD's and a QB who has only played a full season once will break whichever touchdown record you speak of.

3 Re: Ben Tate Likely Out For Season

If they can both stay healthy I think it's a very reasonable chance they break the Texans franchise record for most TDs for a QB/WR combo. That's the only record I can think of that makes sense in context.

5 Re: Ben Tate Likely Out For Season

Foster was already very likely to be the opening day starter; he now has a reasonable chance of getting the lion's share of the carries (including almost all the goal-line work) in a way that no one back would have with Tate healthy. He is potentially a major steal in most fantasy leagues.

In real football, as a Texans fan, this is a blow, but it's only really a big deal if Foster goes down at some point in the season. The team would then be left with (the apparently still fumble-rific) Slaton, Chris Henry, and Jeremiah Johnson (a second year undrafted player who has yet to play in a regular season game and will probably end up on the practice squad again). I would not like that.

7 Re: Ben Tate Likely Out For Season

Fungible up to a point.

2009 Texans ALY: 4.10 (15th)
2009 Steve Slaton: 131-448 3.42ypc 3TD 5fum -118DYAR -30.8%DVOA 35%suc
2009 Chris Brown: 79-267 3.38ypc 3TD 1fum -3DYAR -9.5%DVOA
2009 Ryan Moats: 101-390 3.86ypc 4TD 2fum 45DYAR 1.5%DVOA 57%suc
2009 Arian Foster: 54-257 4.76ypc 77DYAR 3TD 0fum 24.8%DVOA

Brown and Foster didn't have enough carries for FO to list their success rate, but I feel it might provide some additional enlightenment to note that Slaton was dead last among qualifying backs in success rate (as he was in both the other two categories) and Moats was second. Behind exactly the same line (actually if anything, Slaton's line was better as it featured Chester Pitts for a game or two before his injury). Ryan Moats is, I'm sure we can all agree, not an elite talent - or even a league average starter. In fact, marginally above average production last year, behind the Texans line with Andre Johnson keeping safeties out of the box, was enough to get him cut (along with Brown). Slaton was retained on the assumption that his awful play was the result of injury, in the hope of a rebound to something like his excellent 2008 level.

Yes, there is some sample size theatre going on with Foster, and yes, many of his carries were against Patriots back-ups. He may well not be anything terribly special. But the likes of Ron Dayne, Wali Lundy, Sam Gado, Brown and 2009 Slaton have convinced me pretty comprehensively that running backs are only kinda fungible. Your granny really couldn't run for 1000 yards on the 2004 Chiefs, and neither could Samkon Gado. A competent, healthy NFL running back could probably have racked up a lot of yards on the 2009 Texans, but they didn't have one (or if they did he spent almost the whole year on the practice squad). If Foster is reasonably good (and I think he probably is) and if he can handle the workload and stay healthy (and there is some reason to have doubts in this regard) he could be very productive indeed in 2010.

11 Re: Ben Tate Likely Out For Season

Fair point. On the other had, one might note that the two most recently drafted backs to enter the Hall of Fame (Sanders and Smith) and the two currently ineligible players who are mortal locks for it (Faulk and Tomlinson) were drafted 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 17th overall. In fact, the only running back drafted since the merger currently in the Hall of Fame who was not a first round picks is 1988 second rounder Thurman Thomas. Subjectively, the standout backs in the league today are Johnson, Peterson, Jones-Drew, DeAngelo Williams, Stewart, Steven Jackson, Rice, Gore and (when healthy) Ronnie Brown. 6 of those 9 guys were first round picks. Two were second rounders and one a third. You can get by without great running back play, but if you want great running back play you'd best draft it early.