On the same day they signed Bills RFA RB Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Patriots signed RB James White to a 3-year extension. The Super Bowl star would have been facing unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2017 season but is now under contract through 2020. With White, Dion Lewis and the additions of Rex Burkhead and Gillislee (unless the Bills match), New England's backfield is looking quite crowded. It's a high-value situation, but the committee could prove tough to predict week to week for fantasy football owners. All 4 RBs carry some late-round intrigue -- especially in early best-ball drafting -- though White's new deal might threaten Lewis the most. We'll be watching this situation develop into and through the summer.
The Patriots signed RB Rex Burkhead. He joins Dion Lewis and James White in the backfield. (RB LeGarrette Blount remains a free agent.) Burkhead was mostly a special-teamer in Cincinnati but flashed when given a bigger opportunity this past year, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per catch. That included a 144-total-yard, 2-TD outing against the Ravens in Week 17. At 5'10, 210 pounds, Burkhead is the biggest of New England's top 3 backs (5 pounds heavier than White). He could be a sneaky option for early-down work, although stealing significant passing-down action from White and Lewis will be tough. As usual, we'll need to keep a close eye on the Patriots' backfield this summer.
The forecast for today's Jets-Patriots game calls for a 95% chance of rain with winds around 10 mph. That wind isn't a major concern, but it looks like this will be a sloppy game. We still don't expect the Pats to have any trouble when they take to the air, but the weather could push them further toward the run if (when?) they get out to a big lead.
Patriots RB Dion Lewis (knee) is inactive for tonight's game against the Seahawks. He was activated from the PUP list, but New England evidently doesn’t feel he’s ready to make a significant impact yet. James White remains locked in as the Pats’ pass-catching RB.
"It's not clear" if Patriots RB Dion Lewis (knee) will be active for tonight's game against the Seahawks, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "Some roster juggling to be done." We'll see if New England makes any moves this morning, but Lewis shouldn't be in your Week 10 fantasy plans. James White will operate as the primary pass-catching back regardless of whether Lewis is active tonight.
The Patriots on Saturday officially added RB Dion Lewis to the active roster. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll have a role Sunday against the Seahawks, and James White remains the play as New England passing back. But we'll be watching Lewis' participation level the rest of the way.
Patriots HC Bill Belichick suggested Friday that James White could remain the team's primary passing-down back even with Dion Lewis back in the mix. "I think James White is a good player. What he does is good. Could somebody do it better? I don't know. But it would take quite a bit, I would say, based on where he is and how consistent he's been with what he's done," Belichick said. "It would take somebody playing pretty good to be better than him." White has tallied 29 catches for 258 yards and 3 scores, adding another 107 yards on 26 carries. The Lewis we saw last year was better than White, but it remains to be seen if he'll rediscover pre-injury form. ESPN's Mike Reiss expects the Patriots to take a "conservative approach" to Lewis' return and confirms that White will play ahead of him on Sunday night. White is certainly the better Week 10 fantasy play. We'll see beyond that.
The Patriots are "holding out hope" that RB Dion Lewis (knee) is ready for next week's game against the Seahawks, according to the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe. Lewis returned to practice last week and must be activated by November 17 -- a few days before Week 11 -- or be placed on IR. RB James White has played well for New England over the first 8 weeks, but a healthy Lewis is a significant upgrade in the pass-catching role.
Patriots RB Dion Lewis (knee) is expected to return to practice this week, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. New England will then have 21 days to activate Lewis to the active roster. "He's doing well," Rapoport adds. That qualifies as the best update we've received on Lewis all year. RB James White has played well in his place, racking up 14 receptions for 142 yards and 3 TDs with QB Tom Brady over the last 3 weeks. But a healthy Lewis is an upgrade in that pass-catching role. He's worth grabbing now if he's available in your league.
Patriots RB D.J. Foster is a healthy scratch for tonight's game against the Cardinals. There was some concern that he'd steal passing-down work from RB James White after a big showing in the preseason finale. White is now a much safer fantasy play.
NFL Network's Courtney Fallon reports that Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) will not play against the Cardinals on Sunday night. It's a bit surprising after Gronk was able to get in 3 limited practices this week, but his outlook got decidedly more grim when he wasn't on the team flight to Arizona. His absence is another massive blow to an offense already without QB Tom Brady. TE Martellus Bennett gets the biggest boost up the Week 1 Rankings sans Gronk. WRs Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan and RB James White could also see a few extra targets.
Update: Gronkowski has officially been ruled out for Week 1.
The Patriots have placed RB Dion Lewis (knee) on the reserve/PUP list. That officially knocks him out for the first 6 games of the season. His availability beyond that remains in question. New England has a Week 9 bye, for what it's worth, so Week 10 could be a potential return date if he's not ready come Week 7. Lewis is only worth stashing in deep PPR leagues or leagues with an IR spot. James White will step in as the Patriots' pass-catching back for as long as Lewis is out. White ranked 6th among PPR points in that role last year.
The Patriots on Tuesday released RB Donald Brown. According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, Brown had been limited since suffering an injury in the 5th practice of camp. He always looked like a long shot for fantasy relevance after washing out in San Diego. Brown's departure at least takes 1 name out of a crowded backfield that appears ready to hit the season with LeGarrette Blount and James White leading the way.
Patriots RB Dion Lewis will need another surgery on the left knee he injured last November, according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe. There's no word yet on how long we can expect Lewis to remain out, but there were already rumors of him opening the regular season on the PUP list. Lewis now looks like a he could be a candidate for the IR designated-to-return list. We'll keep an eye out for further updates on this situation, and it would certainly be nice to get something official from the team. Of course, this is the Patriots we're talking about. In the meantime, RB James White goes from intriguing late-round option to potential steal.
With RB Dion Lewis yet to practice -- and looking questionable for the start of the regular season -- RB James White appears to be controlling the 3rd-down back job. In reviewing White's blitz-protection work during Saturday's practice, Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald referred to how important that will be on 3rd downs, "when White is in the backfield." It's not a surprising role for White, who caught 40 passes vs. just 22 carries last season as a 2nd-year pro. But it might offer some clarity in a fairly muddled backfield picture. As long as Lewis remains out, White will carry some PPR upside. At the least, he makes sense as a late-round handcuff to Lewis right now. As we get closer to the season, no Lewis would make White more of a standalone fantasy target. He's barely getting drafted right now.
Patriots insider Ben Volin hears that WR Danny Amendola (knee) is not expected to play against the Jets tomorrow. He put in 3 limited practices this week and is listed as questionable, but the Boston Herald reported earlier in the week that Amendola might be held out until the playoffs. His absence will leave New England with WRs Brandon LaFell, Keshawn Martin and Matt Slater. TE Rob Gronkowski and RB James White figure to be busy.
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (hip) will miss the rest of the 2015 season. The news was 1st reported by WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and has since been confirmed by ESPN's Adam Schefter. We still don't have any details on Blount's specific injury, but that's irrelevant for redraft leagues. New England's backfield is now down to Brandon Bolden and James White. Bolden figures to handle the majority of the ball-carrying duties. White will continue serving in a pass-catching role and might see a slight uptick in carries. Bolden looks like the better fantasy play in Week 15 against the Titans, while White might be busier vs. the Jets' tough run defense in Week 16.
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (hip) was spotted on crutches on Tuesday. We don't have any details about the hip injury that knocked him out of last Sunday night's game, but it sure looks like Blount is a long shot to play against Titans this weekend. That'd leave "big back" duties to Brandon Bolden and could also mean a bigger role for James White.
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount left Sunday night's game at Houston with a left hip injury. NBC reports that he headed to the locker room for X-rays after getting checked out on the sideline. Blount had already carried 10 times for 53 yards before leaving. We'll keep an eye on his status. His absence leaves the backfield to James White and Brandon Bolden.
Update: Blount has been ruled out for the rest of the game.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman suffered a Jones fracture in Sunday's win over the Giants, according to insider Mike Garafolo. It's the same exact injury that cost Cowboys WR Dez Bryant 6 weeks earlier this season. Six weeks would sideline Edelman until Week 17. New England is likely targeting a return in the postseason (a 1st-round bye would give him 8 weeks to heal up). Edelman currently leads the Patriots with 61 catches and sits 2nd in receiving yards and TDs. It's another big blow to an offense that lost RB Dion Lewis and is banged-up on the offensive line. WR Danny Amendola figures to see the biggest spike in targets with Edelman out. He looks like at least a weekly WR3 the rest of the way. WR Brandon LaFell and TE Rob Gronkowski will also likely see more action. We'll see if WR Aaron Dobson, TE Scott Chandler, RB James White and/or RB Brandon Bolden can emerge as fantasy assets.
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