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Don’t sleep on Terrance West

Terrance West has the potential to be a difference maker in fantasy this year.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Saints flipped the script by regularly featuring their running backs in weekly game plans while diverting production away from their typically potent receiving corps.

Take a look at NO’s rush vs. pass attempts over the last 3 years:

Saints’ Rush vs Pass Attempts

Year Rush Attempts (Rank) Pass Attempts (Rank)
Year Rush Attempts (Rank) Pass Attempts (Rank)
2015 397 (20th) 667 (2nd)
2016 404 (19th) 674 (2nd)
2017 444 (13th) 536 (19th)

Furthermore, the raw figures don’t tell the full story: Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara absorbed 171 of the 536 pass attempts – an increase from Ingram and Travaris Cadet’s 2016 (112 combined targets) and 2015’s Ingram and C.J. Spiller (104 combined targets).

It’s safe to assume that New Orleans’ loaded pass catching corps will wrestle touches away from the Saints backfield in 2018, but even a substantial touch regression would still yield enough production for two fantasy relevant running backs.

With Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games, the No. 2 role is up for grabs. Those vying for the job are as follows: Shane Vereen, Terrance West, Boston Scott, and Jonathan Williams. If I were building a team for long term success, I would hope Jonathan Williams or Boston Scott take the job, as both are young, highly athletic playmakers (especially Scott). However, the Saints already have the back of the (present and) future in Alvin Kamara. Pairing him with a steady, north/south veteran banger makes more sense as the Saints gear up for a Super Bowl run. Vereen check the “veteran” box but his skillset revolves around his pass-catching prowess. Terrance West looks like the man for the job.

A 5th year veteran out of Towson, the 5-foot-9, 225 pound back has produced 3.9 yards per carry on 465 career rushing attempts, good for 1,816 yards and 11 touchdowns. His pass-catching ability leaves us wanting more in today’s high octane NFL, yet 344 receiving yards at 6.7 yards per reception and 2 touchdowns might be enough to keep the defense somewhat honest. That being said, Alvin Kamara will handle the bulk of the backfield receiving work.

In 2017, Kamara handled 12.6 regular season touches to Ingram’s 18. It’s reasonable to assume the Saints would attempt to keep the work distribution at a similar variance between the No. 1 and 2 backs – perhaps closer to a 16/10 split, as we do expect some backfield volume regression. Kamara will assuredly handle the 16 of that split, but 10 touches per game in the New Orleans offense is nothing to shake a stick at. Couple that with NO’s first four opponents (Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Atlanta, and the New York Giants), it’s clear that the Saints will be scoring at a high rate, and frequently be playing with a lead. That bodes well for the run game and would put Terrance West in position to convert at least one the 10 touches into a touchdown in each contest.

As Jon Oliver, over at Canal St. Chronicles noted, Sean Payton has repeatedly vocalized his displeasure with Mark Ingram’s decision to skip offseason workouts. When Payton gets angry, he tends to be unforgiving. After posting back-to-back productive seasons (984 and 895 receiving yards) in 2015 and 2016, Willie Snead was expected to take the leap into fantasy stardom in 2017. Instead, Snead worked his way into Payton’s doghouse last summer with a DUI resulting in a 3-game suspension. His totals last year? 8 receptions on 16 targets for 92 yards and 0 touchdowns. If West puts on a show during September, Ingram’s days may be numbered, giving West potential season-long value.

New Orleans boasts a dominant offensive line, infused with youth at both tackle and guard positions, led by 32 year old former Pro Bowler/All-Pro center Max Unger. The big men upfront excel in both pass protection and run blocking. It’s possible this is the best offensive line in the NFL.

Currently, West is RB106 in standard and PPR leagues, which means he can be taken after D/ST and kicker. A potential season-long RB2/FLEX starter at that draft position is absurd. If drafting today, I would be hammering West in both Best Ball and redraft leagues. At the end of the draft, you’re best off trying to catch lightening in a bottle – Terrance West is a great place to start.

Poll

Where would you feel comfortable drafting Terrance West?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Rounds 5-7
    (3 votes)
  • 10%
    Rounds 8-10
    (4 votes)
  • 15%
    Rounds 11-13
    (6 votes)
  • 27%
    Rounds 14-15
    (11 votes)
  • 40%
    Rounds 16-17
    (16 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now