It’s become obvious that Shane Vereen is the only player in the New England Patriots backfield that you can rely on.
Stevan Ridley was a healthy scratch last week after he lost fumbles in three straight games, and it’s anybody’s guess as to who is going to get more work in any given week between Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount. Vereen has emerged as not just the most reliable running back on the Patriots, but as one of the most dependable backs in fantasy football — and a top back in PPR leagues.
Vereen has carried the ball 10 times now in back-to-back games, but that’s just gravy on top of what’s already a fantastic meal. Vereen’s ability to rack up fantasy points for your squad comes from his ability to make catches out of the backfield. Vereen has caught at least five passes in every game he’s played in this season. He’s been targeted at least 10 times in three out of four games, and he’s had at least 58 receiving yards in three out of four as well.
He caught a touchdown from Tom Brady last week, and he should have had a second one — he clearly caught a touchdown along the sidelines, but was called down at the one-yard line and the Patriots decided to not challenge it.
Vereen was on the field last Sunday for 41 out of 70 snaps, and no other Patriot running back saw more than 20 snaps. If he is going to continue to get double-digit carries to go along with double-digit targets, then he is a must start in all fantasy leagues. He is currently starting in just 13.7 percent of ESPN leagues and in 49 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Those numbers need to rise because Vereen is easily one of the 20 best options at running back for fantasy football teams.
I would much rather start Vereen this week than Pierre Thomas, Lamar Miller, either Oakland Raiders running back, Darren Sproles, Zac Stacy, Trent Richardson, Ray Rice and a bunch of other backs too. Vereen is going to be a fantasy star during the playoffs — don’t let him flame out on your bench.