Terrance West has been a downright bad fantasy football option over the last few weeks, after he wrested the starting job in Baltimore away from Justin Forsett in preseason (in a formality) and then again in the regular season (in an actual turn of events). West had three massive games in the middle three of this season, going for 108 scrimmage yards per game in that timeframe.
Since that great three-game stretch, however, West has gotten 25 opportunities (targets and rushes). He turned this into 37 yards. Not 37 yards per game, 37 yards. Total. He hasn’t looked like the same back and despite plenty of opportunities, he has not produced in the slightest. He’s shown what he is: a back who will produce inconsistently, but a back who should be able to pull off useful production against meager opponents.
It’s hard to find a more meager opponent than the Cleveland Browns (unless you count the 49ers). The Browns are the yielding the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs this year, and have given up twelve rushing touchdowns this year in their nine games, an impressive clip that has only accelerated of late, with five different running backs scoring touchdowns against them in their last three games (and Zeke going for two). This ability to yield production to multiple backs will work for West, as there are rumors bubbling up that rookie Kenneth Dixon is going to start eating into West’s touches. Not only are they allowing the opposition to score, but they are giving up 4.6 yards per rush so far this season, so even with limited touches, West should be able to get production.
This could be a good week for Kenneth Dixon, as well, but I am retluctant to play a running back who hasn’t done anything thus far in his career. He’s all promise and the knowledge that we haven’t seen him be bad yet, so maybe he’s good. Dixon isn’t worth using this week unless you’re exceptionally desperate. He’s just not worth the risk at a crucial juncture in your season.
There’s also the Thursday Night Football issue. CBS Fantasy Sports last season crunched the numbers and found that this is better for running games, and especially so for teams facing bad run defense. Thursday Night Football is dangerous in that the teams haven’t yet recovered, and playing defense in this still-banged up state makes it more difficult to track down running backs. With the Browns being woeful against running backs, and with inflated running back production on Thursday Night, both West and Dixon should see better-than-average numbers. In the case of West, it might be your last chance to get him into your lineups. In the case of Dixon, it should be a wait-and-see situation, excepting any particular desperation.