Shane Vereen is one of the more hyped role players coming into the 2013 season. Injuries set him back in him rookie season in 2011, and Stevan Ridley stepped in, seized the starting running back role and has not let up since. So what can redraft and dynasty owners expect in 2013?
It was never a question of talent for Shane Vereen. Vereen has learned to pick up the blitz, and that is an underappreciated factor in why the Patriots felt they could let Danny Woodhead go. Now, a lot of people project Vereen to take over Woodhead’s role in the hurry up offense and on third downs this season. While all indications are that is true, let’s take a closer look.
Danny Woodhead averaged roughly 10+ yards per catch while in New England, catching almost 70% of the passes thrown to him (.6923). While Shane Vereen is a good receiver out of the backfield I’m not sure he can match Woodhead’s efficiency receiving. As a baseline, let’s credit Vereen with a 60% reception rate. Anything less and we wouldn’t be having this “conversation”. A next natural question might be along the lines of ” What’s the upside?”. This is where we get deeper into Shane Vereen’s true value.
Shane Vereen offers more big play potential. He can be split out or stay in the backfield in one back, third down sets and once the ball is in his hands he can churn out big yardage. He won’t do that every game, but with an expected 45-55 targets coming his way he can turn a two reception day into 85 plus receiving yards. Include his ability to run inside or outside and you have a RB3/flex in standard scoring formats, but there is more.
The New England offense is in flux this season with the departure of Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski’s operations and the general health of their tight ends. One potential twist I anticipate this upcoming season, and it’s purely my own conjecture, is that we will see a lot of Ridley and Vereen together in the backfield. New England always throws in a new wrinkle to their offense. Teams will adjust to seeing Ridley alone or with a blocking back. Playing Ridley and Vereen together would give the Patriots a different configuration of playmakers on the field than what teams are used to seeing in the past. This would expand Vereen’s potential role far beyond his expected 130 or so rushes, increasing his fantasy value.
Another long term consideration for dynasty owners; New England is notorious for setting a value to a player and not overspending. Both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are free agents in 2015. We can expect Ridley to get a first round tender, worth 110 percent of his 2014 base salary, which works out roughly to $1,568,648. Ridley could want much more than that, and if he avoids injury while continuing to produce as he has things get interesting. Enter Vereen who is capable of being a three down back and who will come much cheaper without any drama or distractions. Now New England could pony up the money as Tom Brady will be much closer to retirement but Vereen,s long term potential is enticing.
Fantasy owners recognize Shane Vereen’s value in ppr leagues, whether dynasty or redraft. In those leagues Vereen has mid-RB3 value with RB2 potential. It is in standard scoring leagues where Vereen’s value may surprise due to his big play potential.
Shane Vereen is currently being draft in the middle of the 9th round in twelve team standard formats and at the 8/9 turn in ppr leagues. That’s low end RB3 territory and great value! In dynasty start-ups he’s a 14th/15th round pick.
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