The New England Patriots never seem to open the season with a clear-cut option at running back, do they? With the departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis to Cincinnati you would’ve thought that things would be a little less cloudy, but this is Bill Bellicheck & Company afterall.
The team brought in Colts’ castoff Joseph Addai to help plug the hole, giving the Patriots four potential options in the backfield. How should fantasy owners be valuing them? Let’s take a quick look at how I’d break it down:
1) Stevan Ridley
Drafted in 2011, Ridley showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season, picking up 441 yards and 1 TD over 87 carries (average of 5.1 yards per carry). He received at least 10 carries four times during the year with the following results:
- 10/02/11 (at Oakland) – 10 carries for 97 yards and 1 TD (9.7 YPC)
- 12/18/11 (at Denver) – 11 carries for 65 yards (5.9 YPC)
- 12/24/11 (vs. Miami) – 13 carries for 64 yards (4.9 YPC)
- 01/01/12 (vs. Buffalo) – 15 carries for 81 yards (5.4 YPC)
In other words, when he got the opportunity he made the most of it. Yes, Addai adds a veteran presence to the mix and yes, you never really know what the Patriots are going to do. Throw in the fact that they will likely bring a pass heavy attack to the table and there are definitely concerns. However, it’s pretty obvious that Ridley offers their best potential, both now and in the future, at the position.
Would I trust him as a RB2 at this point? I wouldn’t, because there are too many concerns regarding the number of touches (whether they go to another option or because the Patriots are throwing the ball across the field). As a RB3/depth option, however, I would definitely be looking to grab him. He has the potential to perform like a RB2 by year’s end.
2) Shane Vereen
He has potential, but he’s clearly buried on the depth chart at this point. In 2011 he had just 15 carries (for 57 yards), and why should we expect anything different? Well, according to Tom E. Curan of CSNNE (click here for the article):
“He’s been running with the starters quite a bit in the training sessions open to the media. And while first-team reps in June don’t necessarily translate into a starting role in September, the 23-year-old Vereen figures to get the ball more than 26 times in 2012.”
You would think the team brought Addai in for a reason, but it is very possible that the reason is purely depth and to push the youngsters. In deeper formats Vereen is definitely worth grabbing. However, if you are drafting him, it’s probably as a RB4 right now. Ridley’s 2011 success and the presence of Addai should put a lot of pressure on Vereen.
Plus, while June snaps could be telling they also could be completely meaningless. You don’t want to put too much stock in them.
3) Joseph Addai
The Patriots brought him in for a reason, and he feels like a typical Colts’ reclamation project. However, it’s going to take a lot for Addai to return to fantasy viability.
After posting back-to-back 1,000 campaigns to begin his career, he’s failed to surpass 550 yards in three of the past four years (828 in 2009). Part of that is due to injuries (he’s played more than 12 games just once in this span), but also due to flat out inability. In the past four years his yards/carry has been 3.5, 3.8, 4.3 and 3.7.
Last season, in 118 carries, he managed just 1 TD and failed to break a carry of more than 20 yards (Ridley had 5 long runs, despite having 30 less carries). In fact, Addai’s longest run of 2011 was just 16 yards. The last time he was able to rush for over 20 yards was on October 17, 2010, when he broke a 46 yard run against the Redskins.
Is it possible that Addai rediscovers some of his early career success? It’s possible, though I wouldn’t count on it. Barring something changing in training camp, I’d view him as nothing more than a reserve in New England.
4) Danny Woodhead
He’s a favorite in New England, but he’s nothing more than a change-of-pace back and receiving option out of the backfield. There’s just nothing of fantasy value here.
What are your thoughts of the Patriots running back situation? Who do you think will win the job? Who are you targeting on draft day?
Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings: