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Fantasy Football Week 10: Wandering the Waiver Wire

By Alexander Hough in News on Nov 8, 2011 5:00PM

On some lazy Sunday afternoons, we sit on our couch and fondly reminisce about Arian Foster's hamstring injury. Oh, Ben Tate, what might have been?

Every now and then we catch sight of Tate and feel the same passion of fantasy football glory that burned so fiercely in the opening weeks of the season when Foster wasn't playing, a fire that then gets quickly snuffed out by the regret of leaving him on our bench. Like last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns: Tate, working as Foster's back-up, racked up a whopping 115 yards on 12 carries, including a 27-yard TD run. Just think of what he would've done with 25 carries!

Which got us thinking. Could we make it work with Tate without another Foster injury? We know it sounds crazy. We're gambling with our emotions. But...couldn't we give Tate one more shot?

In the past three games, Tate has averaged 8.2 yards/carry and 10.7 carries/game, which works out to 87.7 yards/game. That alone makes him a possible flex play, and depending on what your roster looks like, starting him may be worth the risk.

For those who are less risk-averse, let's take a closer look at those three games. The down performance in there, where Tate ran for just 42 yards, came against the Jaguars' under-the-radar good defense. The other games came against teams that are much worse against the run, the Titans (24th) and the Browns (30th). But just as important as the low quality of those teams' rush defenses is the discrepancy between how they play the pass: Tennessee is 15th and Cleveland is - brace yourself - 1st.* In those games the run/pass split was 40/23 and 47/23 (the Jacksonville game was 39/30).

In addition to an opposing team's particular talents (or lack thereof), the Texans' emphasis on running the ball has also been directly related to whether or not they won: the only games where the Texans have passed more than rushed were their three losses.

So to pick the proper match-up for Tate, we're looking for three things: teams we think the Texans will beat, teams with crappy rush defenses, and teams who have relatively better pass defenses. Three upcoming match-ups fit at least two of these criteria:

  • This week against Tampa Bay (4-4 record, 26th against the run, 27th against the pass, and whose DT Gerald McCoy is now out for the season)
  • Week 15 against Carolina (2-6, 27th against the run, 13th against the pass)
  • Week 16 against Indianapolis (0-9, 31st against the run, 24th against the pass)

It'll still be a gamble, but in a season that's starved for quality fantasy RBs, Tate might provide some strong weeks even with limited touches, especially come fantasy playoff time. If Tate happens to be out there, pick him up posthaste. If not, here are our other waiver wire pick-ups of the week:

DeMarco Murray (RB, DAL)
This guy might not be available in your league either, but if he is, grab him. Before last week, we were cautiously optimistic: we enjoyed his romp over the hapless Rams, and he didn't really get a chance against Philly's questionable rush defense after the Eagles came out with a strong nut-kick and kept rolling. But after his performance against a Seattle team that has allowed a stingy 3.4 yards/carry (139 yards on 22 carries, which is 6.3 yards/carry), we're believers. Felix Jones might return this weekend, but even if he does, expect Murray to have more touches.

Chris Ogbonnaya (RB, CLE)
OK, so he didn't look good in his first start (2.2 yards/carry). And he plays on one of the worst offenses in the NFL. And he was on the Texans practice squad until less than a month ago. But Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty have both been ruled out for Week 10 already, so Ogobonnaya will be the unquestioned starter this Sunday against the Rams' league-worst run defense. He's a promising one-week solution.

Roy Helu (RB, WAS)
Play Shanahan Roulette. His post-game comments after Helu's heavy workload against the 49ers were pretty clear about Helu being the man going forward, but Shanahan is an opaque motherhubbard. Keep in mind that this was one game - Helu didn't get any carries the week before - and newly signed Tashard Choice is going to start practicing soon. But the rookie Helu has them sprightly young legs, and he's good at catching passes from John "I'd Rather Not Throw Farther Than 5 Yards" Beck.

Chris Ivory (RB, NO)
With Mark Ingram sidelined, Ivory got almost twice as many carries as the next Saints back. What the hell was that all about? Yes, I'm pissed because I'm a Pierre Thomas owner. Anyhow, Ingram's injury is obviously worse than originally thought, so even with a bye week looming, Ivory is worth a roster stash.

Kevin Smith (RB, DET)
This recommendation is sourced by a combination of a hunch and memories of fantasy yesteryear, specifically 2008 when Smith put up some nice numbers (1,262 total yards and 8 TDs) for an 0-16 Lions team. Smith getting re-signed doesn’t bode well for Jahvid Best’s health, and the Lions need to get some kind of running game going. Supposedly he’ll play behind Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams, but Smith can’t be worse than those guys, right?

Ball So Hard University
This isn't a fantasy recommendation, but if you're looking at colleges, check this place out. They apparently have a good football program.

Laurent Robinson (WR, DAL)
The good news for Miles Austin is that he's now out of legs to pull hamstrings in 2011. This latest one - his right, if you're trying to keep track - is expected to sideline him for 2-4 weeks, which opens up the door for Robinson. In the past two weeks, Robinson has scored twice and caught 10 of the 13 passes thrown his way.

Austin Pettis (WR, STL)
Slot receiver Greg Salas broke his leg and is done for the season and Pettis will take over. After Salas went out at the end of the 4th quarter, Pettis caught 3 passes in about 5 minutes. So, here's to hoping.

Antonio Brown (WR, PIT)
If he's still available, pick him up. He's a rising star in the pass-heavy Steelers offense, and he'll get even more opportunities if Hines Ward misses time after getting Ray Lewised in the head on Sunday night.

Jacoby Ford (WR, OAK)
We don't like to go stat-chasing, particularly when they come against a Denver defense that allows the second most fantasy points to WRs, but Ford's 105 yard, 1 TD day reminded us of the flashes of talent he showed last year. It's also worth noting that Ford was a starter.

And speaking of the Raiders, don't forget that Oakland and San Diego play on Thursday night, kicking off a string of Thursday games that go through Week 16.

*Although this may largely be because no one has to pass against the Browns; once a team goes up, Cleveland's anemic offense is completely unable to mount a comeback.Return to post