LeGarrette Blount beat up the Philadelphia Eagles defense in his first preseason game in a New England Patriots uniform when he rushed 11 times for 102 yards and two scores. This rumbled through the fantasy world over night as talk of the former featured back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers becoming a hot sleeper for the 2013 season.
This is a good opportunity for us to take a closer look at Blount to see if there is anything to this performance or if this is just another case of a guy gashing second stringers on a second rate defense.
Before the 2010 NFL Draft, speculation about Blount was that he would have graded out and been drafted in the first round had it not been for “The Punching Incident.” After a game where Oregon State Ducks lost to the Boise State Broncos, Blount punched one of the opposing players, which drew a complicated suspension issue that caused his NFL draft value to sink like a stone.
As a result, he declared for the NFL Draft in 2010 and sadly went. He signed as a Rookie Free Agent with the Titans and attended their training camp but was waived during final cuts. He landed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and eventually through injury and opportunity he landed the starting job!
In the 2010 season Blount rushed for 1007 yards, leading all rookie rushers. He was handed the starting job right out of the gate in 2011.Unfortunately the season turned out to be a disaster for the Buccaneers which prompted a complete coaching change that included the hiring of Greg Schiano and the drafting of Doug Martin in 2012.
Blount found himself in the 2012 season warming the bench while Martin soared to fantasy heights. During the offseason he was shipped to the New England Patriots in a trade for a seventh-round draft pick.
In New England, Blount has started out behind Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. This is a bit of a mixed up battle, in that Blount has never been much of a pass catching back and the Patriots offense uses the short passing game as an extension of the running game. The Patriots offense is one based on chemistry and an understanding of verbiage. This often causes a slow learning curve for players during their first year in the system.
When it comes to the act of running between the tackles Blount is a talented and punishing a runner who could outshine Ridley or Vereen if given the opportunity. Knowledge of the offense is probably the biggest hurdle keeping Blount from fantasy relevance this year. Vereen has had problems with durability and it could open up an opportunity late in the year for Blount.
Blount will likely go undrafted in many fantasy drafts but I would grab him and stash him with one of my last two picks. He’s got the kind of underdog talent that could show up when you need him most and I wouldn’t want to leave that kind of potential floating for the waiver wire.
Eric Beuning is a Fantasy Football writer for RantSports.com.