Is Terrance West Actually Any Good?
The sky is falling in Baltimore. Kenneth Dixon has graduated from a four-game suspension to a season-ending meniscus surgery, which, according to Ian Rapoport, required a “full repair.” Not only that, but just over 24 hours later, it was reported that franchise quarterback Joe Flacco could miss up to six weeks with a back injury (Jason La Canfora has since suggested the timeline may be considerably shorter).
Regardless, the Ravens were already aware that they wouldn’t have Dixon to start the season, so Terrance West being the clear-cut favorite for early-down work to start the season is not new. Barring a free-agent signing, West should get the chance to pick up where he left off last season.
The offensive line is a huge hole for a Ravens team that struggled mightily in 2016, so how high can West’s ceiling really be—especially with Danny Woodhead in town with a newly signed three-year, $8.8 million contract?
Is early-down work enough for West to hit value? Can West fend off Woodhead in the passing game, or will West’s lack of versatility in that area limit his fantasy upside?
West's Rushing Expectation charting, which balances metrics with film evaluation (one of the toughest things to do in fantasy football), will provide some clues as to how to attack the Ravens backfield in 2017 fantasy drafts.
Rushing Expectation: Terrance West
West has average athletic ability, and solid patience when running between the tackles. His overall strength is average as well, but his power is good enough to push piles. He rarely bounces runs outside, but that may say more about his cutting limitations than his mental processing.
West has below-average pad level, which could be the cause of his merely adequate balance through contact. He finished in the 12th percentile in yards after contact, which puts him in the not-so-elite category of guys that run and fall down, like Jeremy Langford and Devontae Booker. West lacks leverage, and he breaks few tackles outside of glancing blows.
West has above-average burst and good vision, but he didn’t do much more than get what was blocked for him last season. The Ravens had an overall Expected Success Rate on rushing attempts of 43.3 percent, fourth-lowest in the league and well below the NFL average of 46.3 percent. They were much worse at blocking for running backs in the passing game, posting an Expected Success Rate of 38.3 percent, which was also the league's second-lowest mark. Given those conditions, maybe there is some room for optimism here, as West performed well in the passing game on a small sample of targets. That said, he showed minimal skills in pass protection.
As you'll undoubtedly get used to me repeating, Expected Success Rate is an insanely useful metric because it does a great job of separating a running back's performance from that of his blocking, and behind a slightly below-average offensive line last season, it reveals that West performed almost right at expectation on the ground. Among my 60-player sample, West finished with just a 31st percentile Expectation Score on the ground.
While West may be stuck in a timeshare with Woodhead in the passing game, that's where some of West’s best work came last year—he had a massive 97th percentile Expectation Score through the air. That could be skewed by a small sample of 20 targets, but it could also be an indicator of underrated versatility. On film, West displays solid receiving ability, catching balls with his hands and adjusting well to difficult angles.
West’s 70th percentile yards-before-contact average is encouraging given his below-average offensive line. That said, against eight or more in the box, West struggled in regards to efficiency—and he could definitely see more loaded boxes this season if members of the passing game continue to get banged up.
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