2014 Fantasy Football Face-Off: Danny Woodhead vs. Shane Vereen
A move to San Diego agreed with running back Danny Woodhead last year, as he had over 1,000 total yards with a career-high in receptions (76) and eight total touchdowns (six receiving, two rushing). Shane Vereen had a big game for the New England Patriots in Week 1 last season (14 carries for 101 yards and seven catches for 58 yards), but then he missed eight games with a wrist injury and finished with 47 receptions and four total total touchdowns (three receiving).
Which productive pass catcher out of the backfield is the better fantasy option this year?
The Case For Danny Woodhead
After having just two catches and no carries in Week 1, Woodhead had double-digit touches in all but two games the rest of the season. He also had at least 50 combined rushing and receiving yards in 11 of 16 games last season.
Even with the offseason signing of Donald Brown, Woodhead’s role as a primary pass target should not go away at this year. Woodhead is not an imposing physical presence (5’8″), but he has played all 16 games in each of the last two seasons and he has only missed two games in the last four seasons.
The Case For Shane Vereen
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss has speculated that Vereen will lead the Patriots’ backfield in snaps this year. Since he played close to as many snaps as Stevan Ridley (24.7 percent vs. 28.2 percent) last year, despite missing half the season, that is not as far-fetched as it seems with LeGarrette Blount gone as a free agent.
Vereen said in May that his fractured wrist was not fully healed, which surely contributed to his nine drops last season. A groin issue also limited him late in the season, but his pace of 94 receptions in a full season would have led all running backs in that category and put him in the top-10 of the league overall. Vereen also averaged 4.7 yards per carry in 2013, so it’s safe to say he’ll get more than 5.5 carries per game this year if he can stay healthy.
Woodhead and Vereen are both very good options as a RB2 or RB3 in PPR leagues, and the durability edge clearly goes to Woodhead since Vereen has missed time in all three of his NFL seasons. But I expect Woodhead to put up numbers more along the lines of 2012 (301 rushing yards, 40 receptions and seven total touchdowns) than last year (429 rushing yards and 76 receptions for 605 yards), and his career-high 106 carries in 2013 will not be repeated with Brown in the mix for the Chargers. So Vereen is my choice here based on upside, even with an average draft position a few rounds earlier than Woodhead and an injury history that adds risk.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.