Shane Vereen: Updated Fantasy Outlook & Analysis for Patriots RB

John RozumCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2012

October 9, 2011; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA;New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen (34) after defeating the New York Jets 30-21 at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Shane Vereen of the New England Patriots has a slightly increased fantasy football value.

Per Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston:

[Brandon] Bolden had been on the injury report with a knee injury, which had limited him in practice. He was spotted after the game walking under his own power. 

That said, Bolden had just 28 rushing yards on six carries versus the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. As for Vereen, he is part of an array of ball-carriers the Pats use in Tom Brady's backfield.

Therefore, let's move ahead and see if Vereen's fantasy value is worthy of consideration as we near the second half of the season.


Favorable Game Situations

Because Vereen is similar in size to that of Danny Woodhead and smaller compared to Bolden and Stevan Ridley, he's better-suited as a third down/pass situation back.

For one, he's quick and small enough to knife through the defensive front on any long down-and-distance. If anything, that impact alone allows the Pats to not lose the field position battle which is key with a vulnerable pass defense.

Vereen then also makes for a solid checkdown/screen pass option. Considering how many reliable targets Brady has at the intermediate and deep level, Vereen's presence only helps when the coverage blankets downfield.

He could also be a key factor near the goal line. Not so much for slammer between the tackles, however, slipping out into the flats for a quick pass can result in catching any edge defender off guard.

Contribution Potential

Herein lies the concern regarding Vereen's fantasy footbal value.

Despite all the various game situations where he can make an impact to produce, New England is so deep at running back he'll be lucky to see the field—which has rarely occurred at a consistently high rate since 2011.

Plus, Vereen didn't receive a carry in Week 6 and has just two for one yard and a touchdown on the year. Exclude Bolden from the Pats backfield and Brady can still rely on Ridley and Woodhead to make plays regardless of the game situation.

Lest we forget about rookie Jeff Demps who, despite not getting any opportunities yet, still presents a greater threat to any defense courtesy of his versatility. After all, Demps was a dual-threat back in college and competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics. If there's a true future third-down back in New England, it's Demps.

Impact From Schedule

Even if Vereen sees an increase in opportunities to impact the Pats offense, the schedule doesn't appeal to a run-oriented philosophy.

New England still faces the Miami Dolphins twice who are well-versed against the run. Then there are the St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans outside the division. Include another team on the rise in the Indianapolis Colts and the Pats' remaining games are not cakewalks each week.

So as usual, Bill Belichick will have to rely on Brady and his numerous receiving options like Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker. And why would the Pats rely on anyone else other than Brady?

As one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, there's no reason to feed backup running backs. Keep the rock in Brady's hands and let him do what he does best: win games. So, Vereen's fantasy football ultimately remains insignificant.


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