After learning from Kevin Faulk and then Danny Woodhead, Patriots RB Shane Vereen has moved into the role of third-down back very nicely.
“Since the middle of last year, he has really emerged and developed into that role,” Tom Brady said. “I think the best part is he really understands the importance and magnitude of that role and takes a lot of pride in it. It’s a hugely important part of our offense.”
Vereen had 21 touches back in Week 1, and he registered nine touches (including eight catches) in Week 11, playing 47% of the snaps. He projects to be a low-end RB2 the rest of the way, but has more value in PPR formats.
Who could emerge as an X-factor in the Patriots offense?
Here’s one vote for Shane Vereen.
During camp, we’ve seen QB Tom Brady utilize Vereen as he would have Kevin Faulk or Danny Woodhead in the past. If he doesn’t see anyone open, he’ll hit Vereen with an outlet pass. Or, he’ll simply swing it to Vereen and let him take off and do his thing.
Vereen, who barely played as a rookie, now appears to be one of Brady’s safety valves during passing situations along with Amendola. But there’s more. Vereen’s versatility allows him to not only line up in the backfield, but also in different wide receiver spots.
“Shane can do whatever the coaches ask him to do. Out of the backfield, or lining up at receiver, he can do it all,” teammate Stevan Ridley said earlier this week. “That’s something he had to do for Cal, and something he’s going to have to do for us.”
Vereen's stock has been on the rise, especially in PPR formats because he is expected to fill Woodhead's third-down role and possibly take over some of the routes run by Aaron Hernandez. For a breakdown of Vereen's prospects in 2013, be sure to read John Paulsen's The Case for Shane Vereen.
Patriots blogger Mike Reiss was asked about Shane Vereen vs. Stevan Ridley in a recent chat, and here's what he had to say: "I think the typecast of him as a Kevin Faulk-type back is off. He is more than a passing back in my view. A big part of him being a healthy scratch was more knowledge of the offense without the benefit of an offseason. Then he did have hamstring injury. My thought on Vereen: Don't sleep on him. Last year's RB snaps: BJGE -- 34 percent; Woodhead -- 33 percent; Ridley -- 14 percent; Faulk -- 6 percent; Vereen -- 1.5 percent. What you're looking to replace is around 40 percent (BJGE/Faulk) and I think Ridley and Vereen -- if they stay healthy -- can split up those duties."
The Patriots are the poster children for the RBBC and it looks like another frustrating year for fantasy owners. This is probably a "hands off" situation unless one RB takes the lead.