It’s never easy to trust a New England Patriots RB in fantasy football. That’s because head coach Bill Belichick goes through RBs like Derek Jeter goes through girlfriends. But here’s why Shane Vereen is a value pick for the 2014 fantasy football season.
Vereen had a disappointing 2013 after breaking a bone in his wrist during the very first game of the season against the Buffalo Bills. He had over 150 total yards that game. Overall, even if he had stayed healthy, Vereen only put up pedestrian rushing numbers, finishing the season with 44 carries for 208 yards and one TD. But you’re not drafting Vereen for the rushing.
Let’s be honest here. Vereen isn’t going to ever be a 300-touch guy while he’s in New England. However, I do think he has the amazing opportunity to be a 100-reception guy in 2014. For those of you scoffing right now, let’s break down his receiving stats last year.
In 2013, Vereen had 47 receptions for 427 yards and three TDs despite playing in only eight games. Vereen was also the seventh-best RB in terms of yards per catch, averaging 9.1 YPC. Only LeSean McCoy, Joique Bell, Jamaal Charles, Andre Ellington, Reggie Bush and Giovani Bernard averaged a higher YPC than Vereen last year. This is why I’m so high on Vereen going into this coming season. His receiving stats show two very promising trends.
First, he caught his 47 passes out of 69 targets, which is about a 68 percent catch rate. This would likely have been even higher had he not dropped more than a few passes due to the cast on his wrist after coming back from his injury. Second, Tom Brady had a total of 628 pass attempts in 2013, and 69 of those went to Vereen. That’s almost 11 percent of all of Brady’s passes despite Vereen missing half the season.
Let’s do the simple math here. If Vereen can stay healthy and play in all 16 games in 2014, let’s double his 2013 stats and see what we’re getting for our investment. Extrapolating his 2013 stats for this season, Vereen could have about 400 rushing yards and two rushing TDs along with 94 receptions for about 1,000 yards and six receiving TDs.
Those numbers amount to 188 points in standard leagues and 282 in PPR formats. Last year, that would’ve made Vereen a top-10 RB in standard leagues and a top-5 RB in PPR. Before you draft him in the first round though, that’s a very lofty estimate of what he will actually accomplish in 2014. It’s likely that Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola will both eat into Vereen’s potential targets if they can stay healthier this season. Aaron Dobson should also improve on his rookie errors and haul in more catches this year.
We should temper our expectations for Vereen in 2014, but I still think he can come close to 1,000 combined yards and about six total TDs. And if the stars align and Vereen stays healthy throughout the season while Gronkowski and Amendola can’t, well, then the sky is the limit for Vereen.
Vereen’s ADP is currently in the sixth round, which is a cheap price to pay for a RB3 or flex in standard leagues and a solid lower-end RB2 in PPR. Vereen is a RB pick who has a potentially huge ceiling with a high floor. I think Vereen will be on more than one of my fantasy teams this year, and he should definitely be on yours as well.