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The Patriots have ruled WR Julian Edelman out for Sunday's game because of a concussion. Edelman took part in limited practices this week but obviously has yet to gain clearance for full contact. His absence leaves targets on the field for TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon LaFell, RB Shane Vereen and TE Tim Wright. Vereen and Wright could be the biggest beneficiaries in a very favorable passing matchup. Vereen could be a sneakier PPR value now, though Wright remains only a fringe option in deeper leagues (or a lottery-ticket type of play). We're adjusting our Week 16 rankings to reflect Edelman's absence, but we're no less confident in QB Tom Brady's outlook.

10:35am EDT 10/26/14

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (illness) is active for today’s game against the Bears. He sat out Friday’s practice but never seemed to be in danger of missing this game. Vereen is a strong fantasy play as the top dog in New England’s backfield.

After sitting out Friday's practice with an illness, Patriots RB Shane Vereen showed up as questionable for Sunday's game against the Bears. We'll obviously keep an eye on his status come game day, but New England's notorious for overusing the "questionable" tag. Unless he suddenly came down with Jared Allen-level pneumonia, we expect Vereen to be ready to face his brother, Brock Vereen, and Chicago on Sunday.

Even with RB Stevan Ridley on IR with 2 torn knee ligaments, the Patriots chose to keep RB James White inactive for tonight's game against the Jets.  Instead, the team signed RB Jonas Gray to the active roster from the practice squad and have him active for the game.  Gray joins Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen in a backfield that fantasy owners will be itching to sort out.  We'll see what happens against the Jets, but it's tough to advocate keeping White in any redraft format when the Patriots don't seem anxious to use him.  Look for Vereen and Bolden to lead the way, with Gray's 5'10, 225-pound frame providing an interesting goal-line option.

Patriots insider Jeff Howe "guesses" that RB Brandon Bolden will start in the "Ridley role" against the Jets tonight.  Howe adds that HC Bill Belichick will rotate his RBs and stick with the "hot hand."  Rookie James White will be in the mix, and we're curious to see if Jonas Gray gets involved.  All that's clear at this point is that no one -- not even the team's top beat writers -- know what to expect out of the backfield.  Shane Vereen is the only recommended Week 7 fantasy starter against the Jets' stout run defense.

The MRI on Patriots RB Stevan Ridley’s injured knee revealed a torn ACL and MCL. He’s done for the season and will be in a race to get ready for the start of 2015 training camp. It’s a tough break for Ridley, who will be a free agent this offseason. RB Shane Vereen figures to see a bump in usage with Ridley gone, but New England will need James White and/or Brandon Bolden to step into the “big back” role. For more on those guys, check out our Week 6 Free Agent Focus.

Patriots RB Stevan Ridley is scheduled for an MRI on his injured knee tomorrow.  The team fears a torn ACL, according to NFL Network's Albert Breer.  That'd end Ridley's season and leave New England with Shane Vereen, James White and Brandon Bolden in the backfield.  Vereen would certainly see an increased role, but there'd be plenty of opportunity for White and Bolden in the "big back" role.  White has been a healthy scratch for 5 of the Patriots' 6 games, including this week.  Bolden carried 6 times for 10 yards against the Bills.

10:45am EDT 9/21/14

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder) is active for today’s game against the Raiders. He was limited in practice all week, but we’ve heard nothing to suggest that the shoulder will be an issue. Vereen has plenty of upside in a plus matchup against Oakland.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Raiders. He was limited in practice all week. This is likely a case of Bill Belichick’s injury-report games. Go ahead and pencil Vereen into fantasy lineups, and check back Sunday morning to make sure he’s active.

10:47am EDT 9/7/14

Patriots RB James White is a healthy scratch for today's game against the Dolphins.  The rookie impressed in offseason practices but fizzled in preseason action.  He's not ready for a game-day role yet.  Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden will serve as New England's top 3 RBs today.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen caught TDs of 40 and 6 yards in Friday night's preseason game against the Panthers. He finished with 5 grabs for 57 yards. That's the type of pass-catching upside that Vereen presents every week. Remember that he caught 47 balls in just 8 games last year. The concern with Vereen is his minimal rushing workload. It makes him prone to duds if he doesn't get it done in the passing game. The high weekly ceiling makes him worth drafting as a RB2 in PPR leagues. He's just a RB3 in non-PPR.

It was an interesting night in the Patriots backfield.  Stevan Ridley drew the start against the Eagles but split carries with James White with both the 1st and 2nd-team offenses.  Ridley looked good, carrying 9 times for 45 yards.  Then he put the ball on the turf (New England recovered) and didn't see the field again.  It's unclear if that was part of the game plan or punishment for the fumble.  Based on Ridley's history, we're guessing it was the latter.  We'll see if HC Bill Belichick is willing to give Ridley another chance.  For now, he's back to being a risky RB3 pick in your fantasy draft.  White, meanwhile, managed just 27 yards on his 10 carries.  But his usage is more important than his performance.  It's looking like he'll play a significant role right out of the gate.  Ridley's fumble only helps White's fantasy stock.  Then there's Shane Vereen.  He did his thing in the passing game, hauling in 2 balls for 21 yards.  But Vereen didn't see a single carry.  He now has 1 carry through 2 preseason games.  New England has been hesitant to give Vereen a significant ball-carrying role in the past, and there's been no indication that will change in 2014.  We just made some significant adjustments to our Patriots RB projections.

Patriots RB James White received "a number of reps" with the 1st-team offense in Wednesday's joint practice with the Eagles, per insider Phil Perry.  It's not a huge surprise considering all the praise White has received over the past couple months.  We're guessing that the rookie is still 3rd in the backfield pecking order, but you never know with the Pats.  White is certainly worth rolling the dice on late in fantasy drafts.

Patriots HC Bill Belichick praised rookie RB James White in a radio segment earlier this week.  "He’s a very interesting and versatile player," Belichick said. "He does a good job in the passing game and in the running game -- both inside and outside. Blitz pickup -- we have a pretty extensive offense for him to learn, but he’s working hard at it. We’ll just let him go and see how it goes, but I think he has the ability to compete on all three downs, in both the running game and the passing game."  Belichick rarely talks up players to the media -- especially rookies -- so this carries significant weight.  Of course, the New England media has been impressed by White all offseason.  He at least looks like a strong handcuff to a fumble-prone Stevan Ridley and injury-prone Shane Vereen.  We'll see if White can carve out a significant role even when those 2 guys are on the field.

Patriots insider Erik Frenz believes rookie RB James White is a "major threat for touches" this season.  New England nabbed White in the 4th round of May's draft.  He averaged a gaudy 6.2 yards per carry for his college career and posted a 39-300-2 receiving line last season.  Perhaps most importantly, White lost just 2 fumbles on 716 touches at Wisconsin.  Frenz projects White to slot in as New England's #3 RB behind Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.  (Frenz has Brandon Bolden getting cut.)  That'd leave the rookie short of reliable fantasy value, but just 1 injury ahead of him on the depth chart could change that.  We just bumped White up our RB Rankings.  He's worth a late-round flier in deeper fantasy drafts.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen told the team website that the wrist he fractured way back in Week 1 of last season still isn't back to full strength.  “It’s not going to feel great tomorrow, it’s not going to feel awful," he said.  "It won’t be 100 percent probably for a while, but it’s good enough and I’m working on strengthening it and getting it back.”  The wrist didn't seem to hamper Vereen's receiving ability when he returned, as he caught 33 passes over his 1st 4 games back.  But it kept him on the injury report through Week 15 (before a groin injury took over in Week 17).  And his role and production shrank near the end of the year.  At this point, we won't alter our outlook for a potential PPR gem, but we'll certainly keep an eye on the summer health reports.

2:03pm EST 12/29/13

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (groin) is active against the Bills today.  Make sure he's in your lineup in a PPR league ... even though we can never trust the usage pattern with HC Bill Belichick's players.

Patriots insider Mike Reiss believes RB Shane Vereen (groin) will be held out of Sunday's season finale against the Bills as a "precaution."  Reiss thinks Vereen would be able to play if tomorrow was a playoff game.  We won't know his official status until 3 pm ET.  Unless you have another viable late-game option, Vereen needs to be on your bench.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (groin) is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bills.  He was limited in practice all 3 days this week.  As usual, we’ve learned nothing from the team or the New England media about Vereen’s status.  For what it’s worth, ESPN’s John Clayton expects Vereen to play.  We won’t find out for sure until inactives are released, though.  And that won’t happen until 3 pm ET on Sunday.

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (groin) practiced again Thursday.  He'll likely be listed as limited and will almost certainly be "questionable" on tomorrow's final injury report.  Fantasy owners might be in a tough spot here with Patriots-Bills not kicking off until 4:25 pm ET.  We'll see if we can glean anything from the New England media.

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