There has been a growing debate about which running back will have the biggest fantasy football impact in 2014 for the Cleveland Browns. Many fans are in love with the potential the newly acquired RB Ben Tate, while others are 100% in the camp of rookie RB Terrance West. Here is a case for both backs, ending with a final verdict on which back to invest in on draft day.
The Case For Ben Tate:
After sitting behind Arian Foster for years, Tate finally gets a chance to begin a season as the number one back on the depth chart. Cleveland signed him in the offseason for a reason and the team has been gushing over his downhill running. On the surface, Tate seems like a true three-down back.
New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will transition the offense into a zone-blocking team, which suits Tate’s running style much better than that of West. Tate is an extremely talented north-to-south runner. He knows how to square his shoulders to run downhill and the back will likely win goal line duties no matter what.
The Case For Terrance West:
Cleveland dratted West in the third round of this year’s draft simply because he was too good to pass up. The back shockingly rushed for 2,509 yards and 41 touchdowns last season in Townson, while emerging as a legitimate dual-threat back.
West is a strong one-cut runner who could shine in Shanahan’s zone-locking system with a little patience. He is also an outstanding receiver out of the backfield and has a skill set very reminiscent of Brian Westbrook. West may not be an immediate contributor in the running game, but the rookie will instantly have value in PPR formats.
The Final Verdict:
Tate has not looked good in camp or the preseason. He continues to have fumbling problems and issues with pass protection. Tate has dealt with countless injuries throughout his brief NFL career, which means he will likely miss time this season due to injury. If West can simply stay above water until then, he could walk into a starting gig by the middle of the season.
If left to pick one back, I would take West all day long. He will come much later in the draft (ADP: Tate-42.2/West-135.3) and the youngster seems primed to emerge as a strong flex starter by the end of the year.