Ben Tate’s season is over — grab Arian Foster

HOUSTON - JANUARY 03:  Running back Arian Foster #37 of the Houston Texans slips past a diving line backer Gary Guyton #59 in the third quarter at Reliant Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Per the Houston Chronicle

Tate suffered a broken ankle in the 19-16 preseason loss at Arizona. He’s expected to undergo surgery on Tuesday.

Tate, the second-round pick from Auburn, was third team behind Foster and Slaton. Kubiak wanted to see him play for two quarters against the Cardinals. Tate was injured at the end of a 12-yard run when he was tackled by rookie linebacker Daryl Washington.

Tate will be placed on injured reserve.

I was already a fan of Arian Foster this summer, but with Tate out, I like his chances even more. Here’s what I wrote in my sleeper RBs piece.

Of everyone on this list, Foster could very well turn out to be the best value if things break his way. Houston’s offensive line is decent, and Foster had a couple of nice games late last season — 19 carries, 97 yards, TD versus Miami and 23 touches, 145 yards, 2 TD against New England — giving him some momentum heading into 2010. His head coach called the 23-year-old ‘mature beyond his years’ and says he’ll be tough to unseat atop the Texans’ depth chart. Meanwhile, rookie Ben Tate ‘has a long way to go’ while Steve Slaton is spending time in camp working on his kick return skills. This points to Foster as the opening day starter. As long as he doesn’t fumble away the job, Foster’s ADP is bound to move into the middle rounds as the preseason wears on.

With Tate out, I’m now targeting Foster in the 7th or the 8th round. He should make a solid third RB and could be a RB2 in a pinch in a flex league that only requires two RB starters. Kubiak lost confidence in Slaton last season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Foster crack the top 20 assuming he stays healthy and doesn’t start coughing up the ball.

Here’s a quick look:

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Fantasy Football Quick-Hitters: Peterson, Benson, Slaton and Julius

Adrian Peterson limited in practice. His ankle is bothering him. This could just be precautionary or there might be a real possibility that he’ll miss Week 12. Keep an eye on the Vikings injury report. If he’s listed as “probable” his owners can breathe a sigh of relief. Chester Taylor obviously becomes starter-worthy if AP sits.

Cedric Benson “ready to play” but still iffy? Marvin Lewis said he was ready to play but was noncommittal about Benson’s availability for Sunday. The Bengals face the Browns, so if Benson sits another week, then Bernard Scott becomes a terrific start. Cincy may want to give Benson another week of rest if they think they can win with Scott carrying the load.

Slaton continues to start; Chris Brown will see time. So much for Ryan Moats turning into a stretch-run starter. It appears the Texans benched Slaton for motivation, but know that he’s their best RB. The Indy rush defense is so-so, which makes Slaton a decent RB2 start this week.

Julius Jones back at practice, but limited. Justin Forsett will get some work whether or not Jones returns this week, but he’s obviously a much better play if Jones sits out. The Rams are pretty bad against the run, so if the two share RB duties, they’re both decent flex starts.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Kris Brown blows another chance for Texans

For the second week in a row, Texans’ kicker Kris Brown blew an opportunity for his team to tie a game and force overtime. This time, Browns’ miss came in a 20-17 loss to the Titans on Monday night.

Brown missed a 49-yard field goal with six seconds remaining, which would have tied the game and forced overtime. Granted, a 49-yard attempt is no chip shot but he also missed a 49-yarder early in the second half that could have given Houston the lead, not to mention he blew a 42-yarder last week against the Colts as time expired that could have forced overtime.

Again, 49 and 42-yarders are no gimmies. But Matt Schaub and the offense put their team in position to at least force overtime the last two games and their kicker couldn’t convert. One could make the argument that Schaub and the offense should have done more before that point, but the bottom line is that Brown needs to be more clutch if Houston wants to reach the next level.

As for the Titans, they’ve now won four in a row since Jeff Fisher made the switch from Kerry Collins to Vince Young. VY was once again far from explosive as a passer, but he kept drives alive with his legs (11 carries, 73 yards) and also did a fantastic job of getting the hell out of the way of Chris Johnson, who rushed for 151 yards on 29 carries.

Tennessee’s defense also did a great job bottling up Steve Slaton and Houston’s running game, limiting the Texans to just 57 yards on the ground. The Titans also pressured Schaub throughout the night and forced him into some inaccurate throws.

Tennessee held the Texans to only a field goal in the second half after allowing 14 points in the first two quarters. It was a complete effort from the Titans, who have damn near erased their 0-6 start.

Jekyll and Hyde Texans strike again

If the Houston Texans could ever find some consistency from week-to-week, there’s no doubt they would be a playoff team. But one week they’re losing to the Jaguars at home and the next they’re beating a red-hot Bengals team in Cincinnati.

Matt Schaub dissected the Bengals for 392 yards and four touchdowns in Houston’s 28-17 victory on Sunday. It might have been the best performance of his career, as he used multiple receivers and was incredibly patient while waiting for receivers to come out of their breaks. He was also extremely accurate, hooking up with Andre Johnson eight times for 135 yards, including once for 59 yards.

The Texans have a good enough offense to hang with any opponent in the league. But it will be the play of their defense that decides whether or not they’ll make the playoffs. Today their defense was excellent, limiting the Bengals to only 46 yards on the ground and forcing three turnovers. But next week, who knows?

One factor that could help Houston down the stretch defensively is the emerging play of rookie Brian Cushing. He has shown the ability to shed blockers, hang with backs and receivers in coverage and has displayed a knack for making the big play. He was outstanding on Sunday, intercepting Carson Palmer and forcing two fumbles. Houston has found a special player in this year’s first round pick.

Cincinnati suffered today when defensive end Antwaan Odom left the game with an injury. The Bengals were also without Domata Peko, who has been their best run-stuffer. Without those two defenders, Schaub, Steve Slaton and Chris Brown were able to move the chains with consistency and the Bengals were in catch up mode the entire game outside of when they added a late field goal to take a 17-14 lead into halftime.

This loss might wind up being good for the Bengals. They may have started to read their own press clippings after beating the Ravens in Baltimore last week and Marvin Lewis can use this loss to remind his team that there are 16 games in a NFL season.

Edgerrin James to be released soon – are Texans an option?

After drafting Chris “Beanie” Wells in the first round of the NFL draft on Saturday, the Arizona Republic expects the Cardinals to release running back Edgerrin James soon, possibly even as earlier as this weekend.

James started clamoring that he wanted out of Arizona last season when he started losing carries to Tim Hightower. James carried the ball only 133 times (his lowest total since an injury-plagued 2001 season) for 514 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last season. He did rush for 236 yards on 61 carries in the playoffs last year (including the Super Bowl), but even then the writing seemed to be on the wall that he was done in the desert.

If he is released, James will get what he wants, although his market value will be extremely low now that the draft is over. At 30 years old, he’s at the age where teams stop looking at you as a starter and more as a backup in a platoon.

This is just speculation on my part, but one team that could be interested in James is the Texans. Steve Slaton emerged as a quality starter last year, but like most backs in the NFL, he wouldn’t be able to sustain the pounding of a full 16-game season. The team also still has Chris Brown and Ryan Moats on the roster, but Brown spent the entire 2008 season on IR due to a back injury and Moats rushed for just 94 yards on 26 carries last season.

Some speculated that the Texans would pick a running back in the first round of last week’s draft, but they decided to once again address their defense with the selection of linebacker Brian Cushing. Houston then went then entire weekend without taking a running back in any of the seven rounds.

James wouldn’t get more than a one or two year deal at this point, but he could make a nice complement to Slaton as long as he’s motivated. I know James still wants to be a starter, but at this point he better be willing to take a role in a platoon.

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