It’s always hard having an injured player take up a spot on your fantasy bench for an extended period of time. We’re forced to make moves throughout the season for a variety of reasons and occasionally struggle when trying to decide who to drop. That can be all the more frustrating when you have a guy you just have to hang onto in spite of the fact that he’s not even playing, especially when there isn’t even a set timeline for his return. Still, we all do it when we have to and sometimes it proves to be well worth it. Such will be the case for those who stuck it out with Shane Vereen, as he’s about to reward their patience in a big way.
The feeling was that Vereen would be eased back into action when he returned against the Carolina Panthers last week. Shows how much we all know, because he was on the field for the second play of the game and wound up leading the New England Patriots in catches, targets and receiving yards. Tom Brady made it clear earlier in the week that Vereen is going to be a big part of the offense going forward and it’s easy to see why. He’s an excellent pass-catcher out of the backfield and Brady obviously trusts him. He finished with eight catches for 65 yards last week despite a couple of drops, which we’ll attribute to some rust. After all, he hadn’t played since Week 1.
Stevan Ridley still figures to be the early-down guy for the Pats but Vereen will be far more than just a change-of-pace back. At the very least he’ll be out there in passing situations and he’ll likely get his fair share of carries as well. New England intends to use him in a number of different ways so he should be a very solid RB2/flex going forward. His ceiling is much higher in PPR leagues but he’ll still be valuable in standard formats as well.
The Pats take on the juggernaut Denver Broncos this week, which means plenty of passing from both sides in what could easily turn into a shootout. That bodes well for Vereen, who could even wind up out-touching Ridley if New England falls behind early. Given their injuries on defense, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Peyton Manning shreds them from the get-go.
If you held onto Vereen all this time, kudos and well done. He’s got great fantasy potential in an offense that should continue to get stronger each week and you’re going to see him shine on Sunday Night Football.