Saturday, August 15, 2015, 4:52pm
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount participated in 11-on-11s for the first time since injuring his knee Aug. 7. He slowly worked his way back by running uphill sprints Monday and taking more practice reps Tuesday.
Blount continues to trend upward from a knee injury. He'll be out Week 1 because of a suspension, which may help his progress. He remains one of our RBs to target in the early middle rounds.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 8:49pm
Pats seem to be taking slow with him. Blount had no damage to his knee a report stated on Monday.
The Patriots got some good news on the medical front, apparently avoiding a major injury to a key part of their offense.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, running back LeGarrette Blount’s MRI came back negative, meaning there’s no structural damage to his right knee. Blount was apparently well enough to be running sprints on a hill today, so last week’s injury turned out to be a false alarm.
It was previously reported as an MCL sprain, so it’s reasonable to assume he’s going to be ready to start the regular season when he’s eligible. He’s suspended for Week 1 because of last year’s marijuana arrest from his Steelers days, the story added.
The source said Blount will be ready for the start of the regular season. The NFL suspended Blount for the first game, against Pittsburgh, because of an incident last season while he was a member of the Steelers.
Blount has an extra week to heal due to the one-game suspension. Blount was reportedly practicing very well prior to the injury, so this injury does not change our opinion of him. He's a great value in the 6th/7th round. For more about his value, be sure to read Senior Editor John Paulsen's spotlight on Blount.
Bad news for the Patriots as LeGarrette Blount left the field very slowly. Blount has been far and away their best RB all week. I can't overstate how good Blount had been all week. Practiced way above my expectations, for whatever that's worth.
Blount had failed the team's conditioning test, according to the Boston Globe. He missed the team's first two practices.
Blount ranks 21st on our list as a low-end RB2 in 12-team leagues who has an ADP of the seventh round. He certainly has a chance to present nice value around that time of drafts, perhaps maybe even as an RB3 or flex play in 10 team league. Of course, he is suspended for Week 1, which drops his value a bit on our list.
No reason was given for the move, but players who have been placed on NFI prior to the start of camp in year’s past have often found themselves there because they have failed the conditioning test and/or their physical.
Update: Ben Volin reported that Blount ended up on the NFI after failing his conditioning test.
This is probably nothing to worry about, but we'll monitor the situation throughout camp. It’s always dicey to buy into the New England running game, but Blount has been good while toting the ball for the Patriots. Since 2013, he has averaged 11.3 touches for 57 yards and 0.65 TD in 26 games. Those are solid RB2 numbers in standard (low-end RB2 in PPR). However, in his last 15 games with the Patriots (including the postseason), he has turned 14.2 touches into 73 yards and 1.0 TD; those are strong and low-end RB1 numbers in standard and PPR formats, respectively. Granted, he tends to score his points in bunches -- e.g. 30 carries, 148 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts in January -- but he’s been getting pretty consistent run since December of 2013, registering at least 10 carries in 11 of his last 15 games with the Patriots. Given his 6th round ADP, he should be a fine target as a RB3, or as a RB2 for the “wait on RB” crowd. For more on Blount, check out this article by Sr. Editor John Paulsen.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported earlier Tuesday that Bell was negotiating a settlement with the NFL to reduce his suspension to one or two games.
Bell was suspended in April for his August 2014 arrest on charges of driving under the influence and marijuana possession. Bell was arrested while driving to the airport for a preseason game with then-teammate LeGarrette Blount.
Blount, who now plays for the New England Patriots, was also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and will be suspended for the first game of the 2015 season. Bell was suspended an additional two games because of the DUI charge.
Bell is now our #1 RB in PPR formats and is coming in at #2 in standard formats, though brave owners should probably still take him first overall knowing that they can pair him with a replacement back. Maybe more importantly, Bell was a full go at training camp. There was some concern about a lingering knee injury, though it looks like that’s behind him now.
The Boston Herald broke down the Patriots RBs:
LeGarrette Blount will miss the opener on the suspended list, but should be viewed as a lock because the Patriots made no obvious attempt to replace him in the draft or free agency. Brandon Bolden signed a contract extension last season and is one of their most trusted special teamers. The Patriots believe James Develin is the best fullback in the league, so he is safe as long as the Pats continue to value the position.
We still don’t know for sure much about Travis Cadet, Tyler Gaffney, Jonas Gray and James White really. Cadet has an intriguing set of skills, but could he provide more than Bolden or White? And White just had his second strong spring of OTAs, but can he do it wearing pads? Is Gray the bulldozer we saw against the Colts or the guy Bill Belichick preferred to keep in the doghouse? And the thinking here is that Gaffney’s best work must come in pads, which is why he had a somewhat quiet spring.
The story went on to say that White, a 2014 fourth-round pick, dazzled at the start of training camp last season before falling off the map with 16 healthy scratches in 19 games. He was strong again during the nine-week OTAs program and appeared to be the Pats’ best back in passing situations. White could monopolize that role if he keeps it up and earns more trust, the story went on to say. But if he disappears again midway through camp, he might even get cut. We had news articles last year that stated White could be a potential Shane Vereen replacement, but the team signed Cadet in the offseason and right now is a bit more proven after filling in for Pierre Thomas at times last year in New Orleans. With Blount seemingly the early down back, the winner of the third down, passing situation job could potentially have PPR value in fantasy leagues.
Patriots beat writer Ben Volin discussed the pecking order in the team's backfield:
“LeGarrette Blount certainly has the leg up for the primary first down power back. He clearly has an edge over Jonas Gray and anyone else. Besides Blount, it’s kind of a hodge podge of guys who don’t have experience. [Offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels thinks that’s okay, because he doesn’t mind having a little competition,” Volin said.
“[Cadet] has more experience in the NFL. He caught 38 passes in the Saints system and is really an explosive runner. James White is coming into his second year, so we’ll see what he can do in training camp,” Volin added. “[White] redshirted last year after having a productive career at Wisconsin, so maybe he wasn’t picking up the offense as quickly as he could have been.”
Regular readers know we're very high on Blount given his ADP. In his last 15 games with the Patriots (including the postseason), he has turned 14.4 touches into 75 yards and 1.0 TD; those are strong and low-end RB1 numbers in standard and PPR formats, respectively. Whoever wins the "passing down" role will become fantasy relevant in PPR formats, but if Cadet and White share the role, neither will be particularly attractive.
The Steelers will begin the 2015 season without their top running back. The NFL has suspended RB LeVeon Bell for three games without pay for violating its substance-abuse policy, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.
Bell has appealed the ruling, ESPN reported. The tailback has also been docked a fourth game check by the league, per Schefter.
If the suspension holds, Bell can take part in preseason games and training camp before serving his ban away from the club.
Bell’s suspension stems from a DUI charge last summer. He was sentenced to probation, and the charge, along with a marijuana possession count, can be removed from his record if he completes 15 months of service. His former Steelers teammate, LeGarrette Blount, has garnered a one-game suspension for the incident.
Obviously losing Bell for any stretch is a major blow to the Steelers offense. Bell emerged as one of the game’s star dual threats at the position in 2014, racking up more than 2,000 rushing-receiving yards. Ex-Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams figures to have a bigger role with Bell out of the Pittsburgh lineup to begin next season. This could drop Bell a few slots come draft time, but given his workload and last year's success, he should still be a very desirable draft-day selection.
LeGarrette Blount will begin next season on the bench.
A league spokesperson informed NFL Media on Tuesday that the New England Patriots running back has been suspended without pay for the first game of the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse.
The sixth-year back played a core role during New England's Super Bowl run after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers in mid-November. After running for just 266 yards over 11 games with the Steelers, Blount hammered defenses for 281 yards over New England's final five games of the regular season. He blasted opponents for another 189 yards over three playoff tilts under coach Bill Belichick.
Blount is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices. He'll be permitted to make his season debut Week 2, the story added. It's a brief suspension, but Blount's absence puts New England in a pinch out of the gate. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are gone, leaving Jonas Gray, James White, Brandon Bolden and James Develin next up to get work.
LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, who excels on special teams, are going to be on next year's roster. There will be one pass-catching back; whether that player is Shane Vereen or James White or someone else remains to be seen. If Stevan Ridley is re-signed, that's four running backs. There will also be competition from Tyler Gaffney, a 6-foot-1, 227-pound back who spent his rookie season on injured reserve. So Gray will probably have to prove himself in the offseason.
Vereen, who had 11 receptions in the Super Bowl, is a free agent. He probably won't cost the team a ton (for reference, Danny Woodhead got a two year, $3.5 million contract from San Diego in 2013).
The Patriots let Woodhead walk because they also had Vereen, so their decision may be based on their depth at the position. If they feel confident that rising second-year pro James White can fill Vereen's spot, you might not see No. 34 in a Pats uniform come next fall.
Part of Vereen's appeal is that he plays in a friendly system, but he lacks consistency, even in PPR formats. The team's willingness to re-sign Vereen will likely come down to price.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeVeon Bell will spend 15 months on probation in a first-offender's program stemming from his arrest on marijuana possession and DUI charges with former teammate LeGarrette Blount.
Bell may face a two-game suspension from the league as a first time DUI offender.
Jonas Gray is a surprise inactive. It's an indicator that the Patriots are likely to go pass-heavy and use LeGarrette Blount as their primary between-the-tackles running back. Baltimore is a bad matchup, so Blount is not an especially attractive play in daily formats, though his 12-14 carry workload should be safe.
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