In Week 14, fantasy owners who started Shane Vereen were rewarded with a 21-point fantasy day (standard scoring) and he showed just how versatile he can be within the New England Patriots‘ offense.
Vereen is an absolute stud in the passing game and he has replaced Darren Sproles as the quintessential receiving back in the NFL. Vereen caught 12 passes last week against the Cleveland Browns, giving him 33 catches in his last four games and 40 catches in five games this season. He is 11th among running backs this season with 52 targets despite missing eight games.
Vereen is an elite pass catcher out of the backfield and was a major threat in the Patriots’ passing attack prior to Rob Gronkowski going down with a torn ACL/MCL. Now that Gronk is going to miss the rest of the season, look for even more targets to fly Vereen’s way.
He isn’t just an asset in the passing game either, as he is also a very capable rusher. Vereen only had three carries last week, but one of them came from six yards out, and he made a nice run that got him into the end zone. Despite having just three carries in Week 14, he still has 23 total carries in his last three weeks.
Vereen was on the field in Week 15 for 45 of the Patriots’ 83 offensive snaps, which was more than Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount combined. He was also tabbed for three rushes, which will probably be the fewest total he sees for the rest of the season.
With Gronkowski out, it looks like the Patriots plan on spreading out the field with more three- and four-wide receiver sets. When the Patriots run their spread offense, look for Vereen to be the guy in the backfield; whether it’s through the air or on the ground, he should be in line for at least 15 touches this weekend and against the Miami Dolphins, which should lead to excellent fantasy production.
The Dolphins have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, and opposing backs aren’t just gaining those points through the rushing game. The Dolphins are giving up 45 receiving yards per game against opposing backfields, which is the sixth most in the NFL.
I’m expecting a monster game from Vereen this week, so if you have him on your fantasy team, make sure you get him in your starting lineup. He is currently being started in 62 percent of Yahoo! leagues and in just 20 percent of ESPN leagues. I prefer Vereen over Frank Gore, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice and Reggie Bush among many others in Week 15.
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