Running backs usually find it easier to make an immediate impact in the NFL, and generally speaking fantasy football owners should follow suit and keep an eye on rookie running backs as draft day approaches. Two notable names in this year’s group of rookie running backs are Terrance West of the Cleveland Browns and Andre Williams of the New York Giants, who both look likely to have a prominent role right out of the gate.
So let’s take a closer look at each guy, and I’ll make a decision on who I’d prefer to target on draft day.
The Case for Andre Williams
Williams had a big senior season at Boston College in 2013, with 355 carries for an FBS-leading 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns on his way to winning the Doak Walker Award. He has the build of an every-down workhorse (230 lbs.), and he is line to at least be the Giants’ primary goal line back this year.
Rashad Jennings is New York’s No. 1 running back right now, but he has never played all 16 games in a season and if the Giants go with a backfield committee Williams could see more work than initially expected.
The Case For Terrance West
West’s level of play in college, at FCS-level Towson, should be noted but his production in 2013 (2,509 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns) is hard to ignore even with that in mind. He seems to be making the transition to the next level smoothly, drawing praise from Browns’ coaches, and West could continue to narrow the gap between himself and starter Ben Tate between now and Week 1.
Tate was signed in free agency to be Cleveland’s No. 1 running back, but he has missed 24 games in four NFL seasons and has also been fumble-prone (10 career fumbles).
As could be expected, West is being drafted a bit earlier (10th round) than Williams (12th round; via Fantasy Pros.com) and that won’t change. West had a chance to be greatly overvalued by this point, but that has not come to fruition and his upside relative to draft position still remains. Williams has solid value in touchdown-heavy leagues immediately, and if he can score at a proficient rate he may narrow the gap, but West is the choice for me here.