Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa's Fantasy Outlook After Rashad Jennings' Injury

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2016

New York Giants running back Shane Vereen (34) warms up before playing against the Buffalo Bills in an NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

The New York Giants announced that starting running back Rashad Jennings will miss Week 3 with a thumb injury, which means Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa figure to receive more playing time moving forward.

Fantasy football players everywhere looking for running back depth may jump at the chance to pick up Vereen or Darkwa as they ascend the New York depth chart, but it would be wise to exercise some caution—especially with Darkwa.

The Tulane product was yet to establish himself at the NFL level entering the 2016 season with a mere 45 career carries. He did flash some potential in 2015 with an average of 4.3 yards per carry, but his overall totals leave much to be desired in fantasy circles:

Orleans Darkwa's Career Stats
SeasonTeamGamesCarriesRushing YardsRushing TouchdownsCatchesReceiving YardsTouchdown Catches
2014Miami Dolphins/New York Giants1192315480
2015New York Giants163615313310
2016New York Giants21-10130
Source: ESPN.com

Durability is also something of a concern considering he dealt with leg, tailbone and hamstring problems last year, per Jordan Raanan of NJ.com.

Darkwa isn’t much of a receiving threat either and didn't find the end zone through the air in the first two seasons of his career. That is not the recipe for sustained success, which means he is still not worth a fantasy start even if he will see more playing time without Jennings.

As for Vereen, there is more value there because of his ability as a pass-catcher.

The veteran has made a career of playing receiver out of the backfield for the Giants and New England Patriots and offers far more upside in points-per-reception leagues than Darkwa.

What’s more, Vereen’s production wasn’t just a product of New England’s high-octane attack considering he finished with career-high receiving numbers in 2015:

Shane Vereen's Career Stats
SeasonTeamCarriesRushing YardsRushing TouchdownsCatchesReceiving YardsTouchdown Catches
2011New England Patriots15571000
2012New England Patriots62251381491
2013New England Patriots442081474273
2014New England Patriots963912524473
2015New York Giants612600594954
2016New York Giants208006470
Source: ESPN.com

Whether your league is a PPR or a standard scoring one ultimately determines whether you should play Vereen consistently after Jennings’ injury. If you do receive the full benefits of him being a superior pass-catcher at the running back spot, he brings upside as a possible No. 3 back in your lineup.

However, this is also a running back who has never run for more than 391 yards in a single season. Without the PPR safety net, he isn’t worth utilizing as a fantasy starter.

As with many pass-catching running backs who aren’t heavily featured in the rushing attack, there is an element of risk and reward with Vereen. The PPR option mitigates the risk involved and makes it a much easier decision.