Ben Tate considers himself an ‘elite’ running back

Tate says he’s ‘elite': It’s the offseason and free agency is approaching. That means we’ll soon be inundated with conversations about which players are considered the cream of the crop. Ben Tate is inserting himself in that discussion by describing himself as “an elite running back” to a Houston television station. The merits of his statement can be debated, but it’s hard to deny that Tate will be one of the coveted running backs once free agency officially opens. As the understudy to Arian Foster during his first three NFL seasons, Tate has done well with his numerous opportunities. He’s likely to land somewhere as a No. 1 back for the upcoming season and should earn looks from fantasy owners as a RB2 in most formats.

Texans playing QB shuffle?: As for Tate’s likely-to-be former team, there are plenty of questions swirling at the quarterback position. With the Texans holding the top spot in the draft, many wondered if the pick would be a quarterback. Last week, there was speculation that Houston was interested in veteran Matt Cassel. This week, the talk is that the Texans could pursue another of Tom Brady’s backups — Ryan Mallett. In three NFL seasons, Mallett has thrown a grand total of four passes with one completion and one interception. If he goes to Houston, he would be a fairly unknown quantity, which is likely to throw off the draft values of any of the team’s pass-catchers. Then again, there’s also the issue of releasing Matt Schaub first.

Finley hoping for clearance: Among the list of free agent tight ends, Jermichael Finley ranks as the most talented. But before Finley can continue his football career after a frightening spinal injury last season, he needs to receive a full medical clearance. The veteran was having one of his best starts to a season before the injury ended his 2013 campaign and is likely to have a number of suitors — including potentially the Packers — once he’s available. While the reports about Finley’s rehabilitation have all been positive, fantasy owners would be wise to take a cautious approach when it comes to drafting him.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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