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Ryan Williams, Terrance West, and Two More Observations

Ryan Williams, RB: So the Cowboys signed all-injury team all-star Ryan Williams.

We didn’t like Randle last year. But we have had some positive vibes about last year’s backup, Lance Dunbar. Not only did we like Dunbar himself, the Dallas backfield represents a great opportunity this season. But what about Williams? Shawn Siegele profiled him as a 2014 sleeper when he was still in Arizona.

I won’t get into a full on analysis of Dunbar v Williams here,1 but suffice it to say that this situation is worth monitoring. Whichever one wins the backup RB position will likely be fantasy relevant in his own right (think Joique Bell under Scott Linehan in Detroit), and if DeMarco Murray were to miss time, both will be fantasy relevant. Of course Williams has to prove he can stay healthy first, but he’s still only 24 (3 months younger than Dunbar).

Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB: One of my twitter BFFs pointed this out recently:

Ravens coach John Harbaugh also had good things to say about him:

“I thought Lorenzo was very smooth running the ball,” Harbaugh said. “He did a nice job picking up the aiming points and the reads. He looks like he is a big guy, a downhill guy. I was very impressed with what kind of shape he is in. There is not an ounce of fat on him, and he is 230 pounds. Very good at pass protection.” Emphasis added.

Taliaferro also excelled in pass protection drills at the Senior Bowl, so Harbaugh’s comment serves as an early second data point to confirm his ability in this regard. Pass pro ability, or lack thereof,  is one of the most frequently cited reasons that rookie RBs do or don’t get on the field.

Put Taliaferro’s apparent pass protection skills together with his impressive RB projection score of 63 using the RB Prospect Lab and he becomes an intriguing prospect. For reference, Jamaal Charles scored a 65 and Giovani Bernard a 64 in the Prospect Lab. Whoa.

Then there’s the fact that Ray Rice had a horrible season on-field and a worse one off-field, and backup Bernard Pierce is coming off injury. Things could be lining up nicely for Taliaferro to make an immediate impact. I say could because as you probably know, Taliaferro got himself arrested this weekend.

Here’s what I think. Bernard Pierce didn’t exactly distance himself from Ray Rice last season, and his injury is a concern. But dynasty owners are still likely holding on to him. Ray Rice’s likely suspension diminishes the value of any potential on-field return to form. Taliaferro’s arrest is its own red flag, but in the grand scheme of things his mistake is forgivable. So of the three Ravens RBs, I much prefer Taliaferro. He’s a legit prospect in his own right, with two underperforming, injury recovering players (one of whom will be suspended) in front of him. And he’s the cheapest to acquire.

Jarvis Landry, WR: Early reports from OTAs suggest Landry has been performing well:

no one should write off Landry playing meaningful offensive snaps this fall…On the job for just two weeks, he has already worked at all the receiver positions — both on the outside and in the slot.

I realize that Landry has an uphill battle to be fantasy relevant. The Dolphins have their top 9 pass catchers from last season still on the roster, after all. I also realize that OTA chatter should be taken with a grain of salt. But here’s someone whose opinion is a little more meaningful than mine:

Also, Rich Hribar explained yesterday why Brian Hartline isn’t really very special, and Mike Wallace may be a cap casualty. Might Landry have more opportunity than we think? For what it’s worth, the Miami Herald article referenced here also reports that the Dolphins new offensive scheme is “nearly identical to what Landry ran at LSU”, which suggests he might have a smoother transition to the NFL than many rookies typically experience. Landry’s also taken a crack at returning kicks in OTAs, another area where he could make an impact.

A common theme in all the mainstream articles you’ll read about Landry is that “he isn’t fast, but he plays fast”. I honestly think the narrative about Landry’s horrible 40 time at the combine has seeped into our collective consciousness. As I said before, what’s more likely? That an unathletic 4.77 Landry outproduced an athletically superior Odell Beckham Jr, or that Landry is really a better athlete than we think?

Landry’s pro day 40 time was much better for one thing, but then there’s also this: Rueben Randle (bargain), Jarvis Landry, and Odell Beckham Jr were all on the same 2011 LSU team. Randle led the team in targets, Beckham Jr was second, and Landry was hardly used at all. In 2012, Randle was gone…and all of his targets went to Landry, not Beckham.


Yes, Beckham gets credit for being more heavily utilized right out of the gate. But if Landry were really the horribly unathletic, awful prospect he was made out to be, wouldn’t this chart look different? I mean, there’s basically the same number of targets being distributed in 2011 and 2012. Landry was the Randle replacement, not Beckham. Landry is currently WR66 in dynasty startups. A worthy flyer.

Terrance West, RB: Yesterday RotoViz rightly spilled some ink on why Jeremy Hill could be 2014s #1 rookie. I totally agree with that sentiment. But here’s another rookie runner who might surprise. This 5 minute podcast is well worth listening to. In it, Browns GM Ray Farmer provides some pretty candid answers to some pretty direct questions. Around the 2:40 mark you’ll here this:

Q: When the regular season rolls around in September, the one rookie player Browns fans will be most surprised about is…

A: [aside about a previously discussed player] Watch Terrance West and/or Isaiah Crowell. 

OK, Mr. Farmer, message received. How are these guys doing so far?

You can put Team RotoViz firmly on the Terrance West side of this debate. Post draft, we pumped out not one, but two articles explaining why West is the guy most likely to succeed in the Browns backfield. We’ve also got West 5 spots ahead of Crowell in our rookie RB rankings. But in dynasty startups, the roles are reversed, with West going 16 spots after Crowell. Monitor throughout the offseason of course, but the early money should be on West (not Tate or Crowell) in the Browns backfield.

Submitted without comment:


  1. maybe Freedman and Siegele can have a rap battle  (back)

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