Terrance West has been grinding his whole life to be a starting NFL running back.
Now, with Justin Forsett and the Ravens parting ways, that could become a reality on a permanent basis.
Last week against Oakland, the former Towson Tiger gained over 100 yards and scored a touchdown. Still, West is only on less than half of Yahoo! and ESPN rosters. As numberFire’s Aaron Watson wrote, West is the top waiver wire pickup of Week 5. With players like Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware, and Christine Michael on bye weeks, adding West (if he’s still available) is a no-brainer.
According to Yahoo!’s fantasy rankings, the Redskins are the 2nd-best defense for opposing running backs to face this season. West in is line to start against Washington this Sunday in Baltimore.
Anyone that follows the Ravens will tell you that they’ve had a crowded backfield since training camp. With the departure of Justin Forsett and the impending return of Kenneth Dixon, the group will undoubtedly get younger, but the picture remains vague.
West had a very nice game against the Raiders, and has shown a willingness and mental capacity to pass protect. For my money, even with a healthy Kenneth Dixon, he’s Baltimore’s best back.
While the offensive numbers from Baltimore’s Week 4 game bear that out, NFL.com’s Matt Franciscovich shows us that Kyle Juszczyk is the Ravens’ best receiving threat out of the backfield. ‘Juice’ actually got more touches (19 percent) than Buck Allen (16 percent), even though Allen is the running back that had been the primary receiving threat from that position.
Franciscovich notes that West gained over five yards per carry against Oakland’s subpar rush defense, but he’s still worth the add if available. Dixon figures to cut into West’s workload, but since he’s a rookie returning from injury, he won’t do that substantially for at least another couple of weeks.
According to Mike Garofolo via rotoworld.com, a source ‘semi-connected’ to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said his hamstring injury isn’t progressing as hoped and is “not right.” Rotoworld points out that Gronkowski played 41 snaps in Week 4, which is a lot for someone with a bad hamstring.
But considering the Patriots were just shutout for the first time in 171 games, and considering Tom Brady returns this week, I’d imagine Gronkowski would have to be seriously injured to miss this game. He’s played through plenty of injuries before, and although he might not post an explosive stat line, I’d start him comfortably at Cleveland.
The NFL is unquestionably a league which values the quarterback above all other positions. For my money, it’s the hardest position to play in sports (with NHL goalie being a close second).
So, what are two NFC title contenders to do when their starting quarterbacks go down early in the season?
The Panthers (2015 NFC champs) and the Cardinals (2015 NFC runners-up) are both struggling right now, as they both sit at 1-3. What’s worse is that their leaders (Carolina’s Cam Newton and Arizona’s Carson Palmer) both sustained concussions in Week 4.
JJ Zachariason of numberFire.com says that “…not all hope is lost.” According to Zachariason, even with each team’s poor start and injured star, they have a decent chance to play postseason football this year. He writes that the Panthers have a 35.0 percent chance of making the playoffs and the Cardinals have a 30.7 percent chance of making the playoffs. Those odds are 16th and 17th in the league, respectively.
From a fantasy perspective, it’s obviously a wait-and-see approach with regards to the quarterbacks. I’d also avoid starting either of these defenses unless you absolutely have to (or, until they return to form).
Instead, go with studs like Arizona running back David Johnson, Carolina wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, and Carolina tight end Greg Olsen. Those guys, regardless of quarterback, should make plenty of big plays for you.
Quarterback: Joe Flacco (3,451, 15th overall)
Wide Receiver: Eddie Royal (15,168, 2nd overall)
Running Back: James White (8,811, 4th overall)
Tight End: Jesse James (2,470, 21st overall)
Kicker: Mason Crosby (18,038, 1st overall)
Defense/Special Teams: Green Bay (6,496, 5th overall)