Former Houston running back Ben Tate proclaimed earlier in the week that he was an elite NFL running back. According to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, Tate will get his opportunity to prove it. He and the Cleveland Browns agreed on a deal Saturday. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but a source reported to Schefter that it was for two years and $7 million.
While only playing in 14 games, Tate led the Texans with 771 yards rushing and four touchdowns, while adding 34 receptions for 140 yards. Cleveland's rushing leader was Willis McGahee with 377 yards.
The good news... 4.7 - That's the number you need to remember. Tate has averaged 4.7 yards per attempt in his short, three year career in Houston. If he gets a full dose of carries in 2014 (Trent Richardson got 267 carries in 2012, but only averaged 3.6 yards per carry), Tate could eclipse 1,200 yards on the ground. Only seven backs did that in 2013. Obviously, that depends a lot on the offensive line. But, he has proven that with a heavy workload, he can produce. And, he should definitely get that. The Browns ranked 27th in the league in rushing with only 86.4 yards per game, and dead last with four touchdowns.
The bad news... It's true that Tate could be a solid fantasy player in 2014. However, their quarterback situation is similar to the one Tate had to deal with in Houston last season with Matt Schaub and Case Keenum. After cutting Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden, the only QB's under contract for the Browns are Brian Hoyer and Alex Tanney. If you don't have at least a decent quarterback, defenses can shut down a running game easily. (See Cleveland Browns 2013 season).
I see Tate as a running back who will rack up a lot of yards, but be a disappointment because he won't get in the end zone much. Probably a mid to low-end RB2.