Ben Tate was given a huge vote of confidence on Wednesday when Browns RBs coach Wilbert Montgomery said Tate was “the No.1 running back” in Cleveland. Tate missed the Browns’ last two games with a sprained knee, but is expected back after Cleveland’s Week 4 bye. It appears he will slide right back in as the starter when he returns.
That is undoubtedly bad news for backups Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, but it is not the end of their fantasy value. Tate has missed 26 of a possible 67 games due to injury in his career despite being nothing more than a breather back through most of his career. He will most likely get hurt again at some point this season.
The big question is who will carry the load if (when) Tate gets hurt again? Terrance West handled the majority of the work while Tate was out Weeks 2 and 3, but as I wrote in my Stock Up, Stock Down column, Crowell seemed to be eating into that role the second-half against the Ravens. Crowell only had three fewer touches and only played three fewer snaps than West last week.
On Wednesday, the Browns confirmed Crowell’s role was growing by giving him the first-team reps in practice ahead of West. "If a guy’s been productive,” coach Mike Pettine said, “you find ways to get him on the field more.” Crowell has been productive, and it certainly seems like he will see more playing time in the future.
West is a solid running back that has a future in the NFL, but Crowell is just a better player with a much higher ceiling. Crowell is the better stash in Dynasty formats, and could be the lead-back in Cleveland before the year is through.
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In Other News…
The Vikings sent QB Matt Cassel (foot) to injured reserve on Wednesday, leaving rookie Teddy Bridgewater as the unquestioned starter in Minnesota. Bridgewater has the upside to be added in most leagues, and is an upside QB2 against the Falcons this week.
Carson Palmer said his troublesome shoulder is feeling “much, much better” and is close to being 100 percent. The Cardinals have a bye this week, but it appears Palmer will be back under center for Arizona’s Week 5 clash against the Broncos.
Jake Locker (wrist) did not practice on Wednesday. The Nashville Tennessean believes there is a “very real” possibility Charlie Whitehurst and his 54.2 percent career completion percentage starts against the Colts Sunday. Despite the plus matchup, every Titans’ skill player would be severely downgraded if Charlie “Checkdown” was forced to start.
News and Notes
Despite coach Joe Philbin’s bizarre comments to the media, Ryan Tannehill says he will start against the Raiders in London. Tannehill has not been great this season, but he gives the Dolphins a much better shot at winning than backup Matt Moore. … Coach Lovie Smith said “there is a good chance” Mike Glennon starts this week against the Steelers. Josh McCown is dealing with a sprained right (throwing) thumb. … Rod Streater is expected to miss 4-5 weeks after “minor” foot surgery. Andre Holmes should earn some snaps in three-wide sets while Streater is sidelined. … Jonathan Stewart said he is week-to-week with a knee injury. He could miss a month of action, and is droppable in 10- and 12-team leagues. … Maurice Jones-Drew (hand) says he is definitely ready to play Week 4 in London. He will split reps with Darren McFadden when he returns. Neither has much fantasy value. … The Vikings placed RG Brandon Fusco (shoulder) on injured reserve. It is a huge hit to Minnesota’s offensive line. … LT Eugene Monroe underwent “minor surgery” on his knee Wednesday, and is expected to miss at least three weeks. It is a big blow for the Ravens’ offensive line, which will now feature UDFA James Hurst on Joe Flacco’s blindside. … CB Bashaud Breeland will replace DeAngelo Hall (Achilles) as the starting left corner in Washington. … Tyvon Branch was placed on injured reserve with a broken foot. Usama Young will start at strong safety for the Raiders. … Free agent CB Champ Bailey said he is willing to play slot corner or safety in order to land a job. … Free agent RB Dion Lewis worked out for the Vikings. … The Texans signed NT Ryan Pickett and placed NT Louis Nix (wrist) on injured reserve. … The Ravens signed DE Lawrence Guy. … The Bears signed ILB Darryl Sharpton. … The Cardinals released RB Jalen Parmele.
Injury Quick Slants
DeSean Jackson (shoulder) is listed as questionable for Thursday night’s matchup with the Giants. … Vernon Davis (ankle) returned to practice Wednesday, and is on track to return this week. … Brandon Marshall (ankle), Eric Decker (hamstring), Charles Clay (knee), Delanie Walker (shoulder) and Marqise Lee (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. … Arian Foster (hamstring), Mike Wallace (hamstring), Roddy White (hamstring), Andre Johnson (ankle), Joique Bell (knee), T.Y. Hilton (ankle) and Allen Hurns (ankle) were limited on Wednesday. … Doug Martin (knee), Vincent Jackson (wrist), Toby Gerhart (ankle), Keenan Allen (groin), Antonio Gates (hamstring), Harry Douglas (foot) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (foot) are practicing in full this week. … Bernard Pierce (thigh) returned to practice on Wednesday. … DeAngelo Williams (thigh) and Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday. … Jon Beason (toe) is doubtful for Thursday night’s game against Washington. … Odell Beckham (hamstring) has been ruled out for Week 4. … Anthony Davis (hamstring) is expected to return this week.