Shark Bites

Bill Belichick's roulette wheel stopped on RB Dion Lewis for Thursday night's opener against the Steelers.  Lewis operated as the Patriots' feature back, carrying 15 times for 69 yards (4.6 YPC) and catching 4 balls for 51 yards.  RB Brandon Bolden totaled just 6 touches; James White 0.  Lewis was on the field for 46 of New England's 61 offensive snaps (75.4%).  He displayed impressive quicks and surprising power on the ground.  Pro Football Focus credited Lewis with 5 missed tackles forced and 3.2 yards after contact per carry.  He got involved in the passing game from the backfield and split out wide.  Lewis' night wasn't perfect -- he fumbled near the goal line and dropped a swing pass -- but Belichick stuck with him.  Of course, there weren't any other good options with LeGarrette Blount out.  We're still expecting Blount to return in Week 2 as New England's primary ball-carrier.  Lewis looks like a good bet to stick in the old "Shane Vereen role," though.  That produced 5.8 carries and 4.1 catches per game over the past 2 seasons.  Lewis is worth rostering in all PPR leagues and deeper non-PPRs.

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3 weeks ago

Patriots RB Travaris Cadet is inactive for tonight's opener against the Steelers.  RB LeGarrette Blount is suspended, so Brandon Bolden, Dion Lewis and James White will handle backfield duties.  Our best guess is that Bolden will be the primary early-down back, Lewis will play in passing situations and White will mix in for a handful of touches.  That's just a guess, though.  Your best bet is to avoid Patriots RBs in fantasy lineups this week.

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1 month ago

The Patriots have released RB Jonas Gray.  It's a surprising move because Gray had been running with the 1st-team offense this preseason and was widely expected to serve as New England's lead back with LeGarrette Blount suspended for the opener.  The Pats are now left with RBs Brandon Bolden, Dion Lewis and James White for Week 1.  It's a situation to avoid in fantasy football.  Blount, meanwhile, will return in Week 2 as New England's clear early-down runner.

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RB Dion Lewis has won the Patriots' 3rd-down job, according to insider Erik Scalavino.  The supposed favorite for that job has been a carousel all summer, and we still wouldn't consider Lewis a lock to hang on to the gig all season.  But he's the guy to target as a late-round flier in PPR leagues if you're hoping to land New England's passing-down back.  Remember that RB Shane Vereen averaged 4.1 catches per game in that role over the last 2 seasons.

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Brandon Bolden operated as the Patriots' 1st-team passing-down back in Friday night's preseason game.  He finished with 5 carries for 12 yards and 0 catches on 1 target.  Dion Lewis was the change-of-pace back with QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the 2nd-team offense.  He looked good in hauling in all 4 of his targets for 20 yards and a score.  RB James White, meanwhile, didn't get on the field as far as we could tell.  This situation remains as muddy as even with less than 2 weeks until New England's opener.  Avoid all 3 guys in fantasy drafts.

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Patriots RB James White is getting the "majority" of the 1st-team reps, according to insider Phil Perry.  White appears to have the early lead to replace Shane Vereen as New England's passing-down back.  He'll need to hold off Travaris Cadet and Dion Lewis for the gig over the next month.  If he can, White will be a prime sleeper for your PPR drafts.

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