It may seem like I talk a lot about the New England Patriots’ backfield. That’s because it’s true. I do talk a lot about the Patriots’ running backs. Part of that is because I’m a Patriots fan (it says so in my twitter bio and the Malcolm Butler tattoo on my arm also gives it away) but mainly because I find what the Patriots are constructing so confusing and intriguing.
To quickly recap, the Patriots added ex-Bengals back Rex Burkhead and ex-Bills Mike Gillislee during the offseason, joining a backfield of Dion Lewis and Super Bowl hero James White. They also just recently slapped a little used tender on LeGarrette Blount, showing they have interest in keeping him around as well. That’s five running backs all of whom have shown the ability to start for any given NFL team.
For a team that doesn’t love to run the football and has the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, I find it rather odd that they are stockpiling on running backs. I also find it completely annoying as I’d like to be able to draft one of these backs to my fantasy team will some sort of assurance that they’d actually end up getting me points.
My rationale for this—unless Bill Belichick is about to unearth the most revolutionary new formation since the Wildcat, involving four running backs on the field at any one time—is that the Patriots are planning to have an intense competition at running back this preseason. And like any good competition, once it’s done, someone’s going home empty handed.
Don’t be surprised if that man is Dion Lewis.
The Patriots signed Burkhead to a one year, $3.15 million deal and Gillislee to a two year, $6.4 million deal (plus giving up a 5th round pick to Buffalo). They also signed White to a three year extension worth $12M base after he scored almost every point in Super Bowl 51. Those are all contracts that to me mean the Patriots have a plan for each player and a role on the team.
Lewis on the other hand has been injury prone with the Patriots—he’s played in 14 games in the last two years—and if cut, will save the team $1.28 million in cap space. If you had to pick one of these guys on paper to cut, all the signs seem to point to Lewis.
Now I could be totally off in my rationale. Maybe the Patriots do want to roll into the season with four, maybe five, starting caliber running backs and just cycle them weekly to keep them healthy, defenses unprepared and fantasy owners infuriatied.
What I do know is that I’m not picking Lewis in any of my drafts and won’t be shocked if he’s on another team come the start of 2017.
Which Patriots’ RB would you draft to your fantasy team?
This poll is closed
LeGarrette Blount (if he ends up on the team)